Those who do not learn from the past are destined to….

USA - CIRCA 1970 Landing of the PilgrimsMost people don’t realize that the Bill of Rights is actually the foundation of capitalism, and that capitalism was the remedy for the early socialism that was codified in the Mayflower Compact – which totally didn’t work and nearly wiped out America in it’s first generation. It sounded great in theory but when it got down to the guys in the buckle hats and shoes, it didn’t work because they didn’t work. Nobody did anything. It was the “Let the next guy do it” syndrome and, of course, the next guy was saying the same thing so nothing ever happened. And the Native Americans had to come to the rescue of these “do nothings!”

So in terms of socialism, America can say “Been there, done that.”

William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, quickly found out that when everything was shared -from responsibilities to rewards-  and outcomes were assured, no one, who could do more, did more, because they wouldn’t get more for their extra effort, and people who didn’t do anything still got something, so it quickly devolved down to no one doing anything.

It was truly atrophy of the economic muscle.

Although Socialism feeds our emotional needs and seems less threatening than other forms of government, it lacks certain dynamics of basic Economics which renew and refresh the consumption of resources and labor. In short, human behavior erodes the self-sustainability of Socialism. So as an English Prime Minister once said, “The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” – or corn!  Although, in the early colonial days it wasn’t called ‘Economics’, it was called survival. This flaw in the self-sustaining dynamism was revealed. At the basic level Economics is survival. Today we can no longer appreciate that because our existence has been layered by the advancement of our society till it becomes like the pea under a pile of mattresses. We are so far away from our last meal, so far away from the last shelter, so far from last resort, that we don’t feel it or fear it. We now regard economics as an intellectual endeavor. But when we had a bushel of corn and 500 people, economics suddenly was survival. So the math (economics) of a bushel of corn to feed the 500 people became an economic formula of life and death.

It’s hard in this modern day, when the poorest American enjoys a higher standard of living than 75% of the 7 billion souls on Earth, to even imagine the scarcity of the basics, the essentials, the imperatives that challenged our forefathers. We are so blessed now that we would never, ever, appreciate the subtleties, realities and hardships of the founding of this nation. Yet, the reason for the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, the reason why the Articles of Confederation were totally inadequate and why socialism crushed the spirit, are all etched into those documents with the watermarks of poverty, death, sacrifice and nobility of our early nation. I fear these underlying reasons will never again be fully understood by American’s today who have not been challenged in the basics.  In a way, I see a cycle. One that is coming around, that by losing sight of our founding, we condemn ourselves to return to the conditions which created the tyrannical political environment which fomented revolution in the first place.

The question is, if our economic system falters, by either excessive debt, excessive spending, excessive cutting or excessive taxes, will the average American feel the pain of the founders? Will they seek the same freedoms all over again, strike outgainst tyranny, re-establish the individual as inviolate and fight a war to free themselves? Or will they avoid all that by just dusting off the Bill of Rights and the Constitution they already have and reading them.

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