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  • Morning Bell: Giving Thanks for the Free Market

    There is much talk these days of how conservatives need “new ideas” in these troubled economic times. And as we look at our nation’s troubled landscape, there is much work that needs to be done if we are going to return economic prosperity to the country. But as we sit down to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family, recalling the true story of the Pilgrims should remind us all that the core principles that have made this nation great are unchanging, and that we risk ruin if we abandon them.

    Most children learn that the Pilgrims’ salvation at Plymouth Colony stemmed from the generosity of local Indians. And while there is no doubt that the American natives did help the immigrants through some early tough times, it was not until the Pilgrims rediscovered the importance of private property that the colony began to thrive and was able to give thanks for their own blessings. When the Pilgrims first arrived, they attempted a form of, in Gov. William Bradford’s words, “community” or “commonwealth.” In other words, they attempted to “spread the wealth around” by destroying private property and replacing it with a communally owned property system.

    The result was disastrous. According to Bradford, this system bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers'] benefit and comfort.” Unable to produce their own food, some settlers  “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” It was not until the colony changed course and allowed the private ownership of farmland that prosperity returned. Bradford reported, “This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious. … [M]uch more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. … Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

    A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients and applauded by some of later times … that the taking away of property … would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

    Amen to that.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    21 Responses to Morning Bell: Giving Thanks for the Free Market

    1. john buck pt.pleasan says:

      as a union rank and file member who lost his job to an illegal alien and sees the unions trying to kill e-verify legislation,i have one question,are the unions trying protect me or replaxe me?

    2. Cypress, Texas says:

      Reading again about the experiment in communism in the Mayflower Colony makes one wonder how many times man must entertain this abominable experiment before realizing its futility.

    3. Kevin E. vonMoses says:

      "… Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's biggest congressional enablers, Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), have favorability ratings of 30% and 27%, respectively…"

      This means little if the voters in CT and MA continue to vote for them…

      How about publishing who funds these two 'gentlemen'? The real power of the press is the truth, not 'spin'.

    4. Ken Jarvis Las Vegas says:

      "there is much work that needs to be done if we are going to return economic prosperity to the country."


    5. Gus Owen, 10455 N. C says:

      Thank you for the work that the Heritage Foundation does. I am fearful that the new administration will try to socialize medical care along with many other area's of our economy.

      Keep up the good work and maybe our next presidential candidate will espouse a more conservative philosophy and free market ideas.

      Gus Owen

    6. Ken Jarvis Las Vegas says:

      What does the HF tell a woman that NEEDS A breast exam

      and can't afford it?

      Or, a 35 year old man, that NEEDS a nernia operation,

      and can't afford it?

      Or, a 50 year old that NEEDS Catarac surgury,

      and can't afford it?

      What does the HF and the other -

      Health Care for ALL HATERS,

      what do YOU tell them?

      LVKen7 at gmail dot com

    7. don ballew , elk cit says:

      Left out of the news during the election cycle was ACORN'S role in getting the sub-prime loans started. In the 1990s they agitated for relaxed home lending rules. They said the rules were discriminatory. Bill Clinton bought this and came down hard on lenders to make it easier to get loans. ACORN is Obama's parent organization. Obama said he learned more working with the community organizers than any other place.

      Enter sub-prime loans by the millions and chicanery at Freddie and Fannie and other lenders and leveraging.

      This led to the Sept 15 monetary collapse of 2008.

      High up democrats and militant ACORN caused the crash. Instead of pointing the finger and blaming the democrats, Bush and McCain and Sarah were blamed for this mess.

      Why was all the media silent about this?


    8. Michael J O'Bri says:

      God Bless America and the principles of freedom and individual rights that have given so many so much. Happy Thanksgiving!

    9. SUSAN NEW ORLEANS, L says:


    10. Audrie Zettick Schal says:

      As a 2nd generation American and a conservative, I can't help but see a connection between recent Russian actions and comments and our being thankful for the rights we enjoy here. I've blogged about what I'm thankful for, which includes freedom to express ourselves, freedom of religion, and freedom from government ownership—all of which are under attack. Happy Thanksgiving to the conservative blogosphere which helps to ensure we keep enjoying these rights.

    11. Michael J O'Bri says:

      Mr. Jarvis, that's an emotional argument. This country provides free health care, and yes the cost is passed along to you and I. Just visit any emergency room or ask any doctor and look at the number of patients who live off the public coffers. No one objects to everyone having health care, but there are no free rides on earth and someone must pay. Look objectively at the socialized health care in Great Britain, or Canada. The quality is poor and wait times are enormous. We have the greatest health care system in the world. You are suggesting that we ruin a gold standard model and punish everyone so we can take care of those that cannot take care of themselves. Examine the facts: look at the amount charitable donations that this country provides to those in need. We are not a selfish society, but we also expect individual responsibility. And personally I just do not want the government taking care of my health needs. Anything the socialist and government touches always is prone and expected to fail. You may want to contact those in need folks and offer to help out. But let's not speak for the rest for us.

    12. Barb -mn says:

      Thank God for all inspired by His greatness. Thank God for our founding fathers, thank God for our strength to stand and fight for the rights God bestowed upon us. Thank God for the Heritage Foundation and all they do to help us in this fight. Thank God for all organizations giving us the opportunity to be who we are by voice and person. Thank God for all of you who live the examples led by our Brother, Jesus Christ and the strength of logic He taught us to be able to survive EVIL. This could be our last thanksgiving together under the principles and freedoms of America, but we all have things to be thankful for everyday. Stay strong and don't lose sight of who you are. And thank you Mr. O'brien. Your explanation of Mr. Jarvis's concern are precise. Health care was never the problem. It's the people that don't do for themselves that caused it to become. Happy Thanksgiving!

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    14. Tony, Australia says:

      "Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

      So what you're saying is that the free market and Child Labour is waht made the colony strong. They are the values that made the USA great – exploiting the weak. First children, then slavery.

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    16. Stuart Good, Greensb says:

      "We know the insurance industry is toxic," Jacki Schechner, a spokesperson for the group, told me. "We know they're all about their bottom line.

      Ms Schechner is dead on. Insurance is not the solution to our difficulties in financing health care. It is, in fact, the problem.

      Insurance and health care simply do not mix. We pay for other insurance based on fixed agreements: Life insurance policies pay out a set amount upon one’s death for a certain premium. Automobile insurance pays an amount up to the total value of the insured vehicle after a wreck. Both figures are agreed to in advance and figure prominently in the determination of premiums. Who would buy their auto insurance from a company that never “totals” a vehicle, but instead must go to the most extraordinary lengths and expense to restore it to working condition not matter how terrible the collision or great the abuse? Conversely, what owner of such a policy would hesitate to demand that the insurer of their beloved ’65 Volvo wagon be made whole again after a run-in with a cement truck? And we wonder why premiums are going up?

      Society needs to look at health care for what it is – a commodity. When we need a commodity we have two choices. We either buy it with money saved, or, having failed for whatever reason to have accumulated enough to buy it outright, borrow the money and absorb the penalty of interest in paying it back. So it should be with our healthcare, albeit with a little help from the feds, as given the extraordinary expense and importance of this particular commodity, and the government’s stake in a healthy and thus productive citizenry, there is a role for Washington, but only as an enforcer of savings and ultimate guarantor of loans.

      Here is the way a Health Savings and Loan Plan could work: When a person is born or becomes a citizen it is mandated that a savings account be opened at an approved financial institution (a true “lock-box”) with a certain minimum deposit. The account would be tied to the individual for life, with account number combining say, the last six digits of his or her Social Security number with four additional numbers. Interest earned would be tax-exempt and withdrawals could be made only for health-related reasons. Deposits into the account could occur at any time and in any amount from any person or institution and would be tax deductible. Monies in the account could be used to cover the health care expenses of others, or transferred into the health care accounts of others. In the case of families, the parents would have control over the accounts of their children, with certain limitations, until they reach their majority. Obviously, the wise would contribute often to their accounts, enjoy the tax benefits, and have a sizable cushion against future problems, as well as funds for preventive medicine. Unfortunately, wisdom is not universal, and for even the wisest, catastrophic illnesses could occur early in life while the personal fund is still small. In a great many cases, other personal funds would not be sufficient to cover these costs. Here the second pillar of government support comes in, guaranteeing, or perhaps granting low interest loans on generous terms. The loans would be easy to secure, but very difficult to default on as repayment would be guaranteed by the possible use of payroll deductions, exemptions from bankruptcy protection, and liens against property and estates. The program would have to phased in over time in order to protect those relying on the current system.

      Obviously, this would involve the winding down of a major industry and the inevitable howling this would produce, and there would be some very thorny and expensive issues to deal with in running parallel health care systems during the 70 or so years of the phase in. However, the benefits for the health care system, and society in general would dwarf these drawbacks. A Health Savings and Loan program would bring back two crucial forces that are being slowly leeched out of the current system: personal responsibility and market forces. A person contributing to his or her account regularly and living a healthy lifestyle will be rewarded; those that do not will be penalized, but financially, and not at the expense of their health. Since the money being spent would be that which has been saved or must be repaid, the account owner will be more circumspect in his choice of providers than if under a third payer system. This will return market forces to the equation and lower prices for everyone. Medical providers will be disencumbered from a huge amount of paperwork, having only to bill and collect fees from patients. To the great relief of doctors, there will be no outside advisors directing the treatment of their patients – those decisions will return to where they should be, between doctor and patient with a careful, but not fearful, eye toward cost. The vast amounts of money being siphoned off for insurance operating costs would be redirected toward patient care and the inflationary pressure of third-party payers would cease to exist. Charitable and benevolent entities would find their conduits to those in need greatly streamlined and more secure as funds could be deposited directly into an individual’s savings account with the assurance that they would be used only for the purpose intended. The same holds true for gifting situations; for example grandparents wishing to provide more than just toys at Christmas time could help to vest their loved ones’ financial health with a simple deposit into this dedicated account.

      Ultimately, and perhaps even more importantly, placing the responsibility for their most precious possession upon the shoulders of individual citizens will heighten their sense of responsibility in other areas of life as well. For example, would it be such a terrible thing for a young couple or single person contemplating parenthood to also have to consider the immediate requirement of, say, $1000 to fund their child’s health care account? Perhaps those who need to think twice about such an undertaking would thus be encouraged to do that very thing.

      The institution of a program as outlined above would do much to change the relationship between government and citizen. Unlike other government programs, it is clear-cut, transparent and easily understood. Its reliance on personal responsibility underwritten by a benevolent but resolute government would confer on both parties the dignity that is now being eroded from both.

    17. W Howard Baker, Bard says:

      As we plunge our country into a major depression by listening to politicians that put politics above their country, a Democrat Secretary of the Treasury was supposed to deliver the October surprise which has gotten out of hand, and then compounding it by laying out a plan that is socialistic for the recovery.

      The upcoming leaders are also planning the nationalization of the health care system and shutting down any industries that emit carbon dioxide including coal fired powerplants, thus putting millions of coal miners, engineers, and management out of work. All in the name of "man-made" global warming.

      When we make ourselves so powerful that we think we can, through our technology, change the climate of the Earth, aren't we making ourselves wiser than God? As Bradford saw in the philosophy of Plato pertaining to property, don't we also follow this philosophy when we think we can change the Earth? It is interesting that there is a prediction that a meteor will strike the Earth in 2018. Could this be God's way of showing us that we are nothing but quarks in the ultmate scheme of things. As the scientist put forth at the global warming conference, since there is nothing you can do about global warming, spend your time and money on what you can fix.

    18. Steven, Palm Beach G says:

      Happy thanksgiving everyone. I'm a libertarian who usually looks up policy studies at the Cato Institute, which employs a few former Heritage Foundation writers, such as Daniel J. Mitchell. My question: why must you guys always tie everything to religion, social conservatism, and a nonexistent invisible man in the sky? Why has the Heritage Foundation taken pro-life, gay-hating, xenophobic, anti-separation of church and state, anti-immigrant, and pro-death penalty positions? Why can't you be true, Barry Goldwater fiscal conservatives who believe in individual freedom and limited government? I'd love an answer, because you guys actually have relevant insight on economic issues, I just don't understand the Heritage ideology.

      Dazed and Confused,

      Steven in FL

      P.S. Happy thanksgiving again everyone!

    19. Steven Walk says:

      By the way, Kevin E. vonMoses, I'm a Jewish libertarian and a big fan of Ludwig von Mises, so, naturally, I find your nickname quite amusing.

    20. Pingback: Great Conservative Blogs this Week! « America, You Asked For It!

    21. Pingback: Morning Bell: Giving Thanks for the Free Market | Definition of Prosperity

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