THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 11/29/2022
Enough thankful lessons to go around
Readers’ patience is appreciated when technical issues delay a Tuesday column for a couple of days, as happened last week. Result: a Thanksgiving Day column seemingly devoid of Thanksgiving. I do have deep gratitude for many things, in my life and our nation; not least is that this column has, for nearly 18 years, allowed a local conservative to inform, analyze and vent.
In Thanksgivings past, the shear enjoyment of tables, platters, and plates filled and refilled were as much a sporting event as the broadcast games; unfortunately, the unforgiving metabolism of a 70-something body means avoiding such indulgences. Maybe some turkey cold cuts will suffice now that the 10+ pounds lost, after a summer’s worth of restaurant and seafood excesses, has been maintained.
A local event provided services to the less fortunate. It was rewarding to know our community stepped up; it was also unnerving that thousands tolerate the inconvenience of long lines for basic essentials like haircuts. Curiosity compels asking if this event has seen a trend over the years; pandemic-induced economic malaise has hit the lower strata the hardest. A return to economic vitality will be welcomed by all.
Post-Thanksgiving reflections: A Bugs Bunny and Friends cartoon contained a vignette of a lazy cat chastised by its owner over its failure to keep mice out of the house. The fat, lazy cat exclaimed, “I’m all for a hard day’s work, as long as it’s done by someone else.”
Ironic humor arose over the cat’s solution: teach other cats how to catch the mice that the lazy cat avoided (being beneath his dignity). An old saying was that those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. That salient lesson addresses many in society who have an aversion to hard work unless done by others.
It’s a worthwhile annual topic, succinctly written by John Stossel in “Thanksgiving Lessons.” “Thursday, if you eat a nice meal, thank the Pilgrims. They made Thanksgiving possible. They left the Old World to escape religious persecution. They imagined a new society where everyone worked together and shared everything. In other words, they dreamed of socialism. Socialism then almost killed them.”
For the moment, set aside the “woke” narrative of misfortunes by Native tribes after Europeans migrated to North America seeking economic and religious freedom from stratified, oppressively regimented European monarchies. From the Pilgrims to subsequent waves that found expanses of unoccupied land unseen in their lifetimes, an inexorable surge set conflicts in motion that brought out the best and worst of humanity—among Natives and newcomers.
No groups monopolized virtue or vice—Native tribes included sophisticated cultures with written and spoken bodies of knowledge, to vicious tribes practicing unrelenting aggression, even genocide, upon neighboring groups whose lands and existence inhibited the aggressors’ designs.
Europeans’ culpability is documented but often excludes the realities of 1) unlimited, and mostly unoccupied, land for the taking by 2) a culture incompatible with nomadic hunters and gatherers that gave mutilation and slaughter as good as they got. Inform yourself by reading “Thanksgiving a ‘Myth’ or a ‘Problematic Holiday’? What Nobody Tells You About Indians and Other Native Americans,” (no-pasaran.blogspot.com). Its details support my summation.
John Stossel recounts the documented (by Gov. William Bradford) experiences of the Pilgrims’ “collectivist” means of production, and provision of basic needs. “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need,” was the system agreed upon even before landing in the New World.
“As I [Stossel] explain in my weekly video, the Pilgrims attempted collective farming. The whole community decided when and how much to plant, when to harvest and who would do the work. Gov. William Bradford wrote in his diary that he thought that taking away property and bringing it into a commonwealth would make the Pilgrims ‘happy and flourishing.’
“It didn’t. Soon, there wasn’t enough food. ‘No supply was heard of,’ wrote Bradford, ‘neither knew they when they might expect any.’ The problem, Bradford realized, was that no one wanted to work. Everyone relied on others to do the work. Some people pretended to be injured. Others stole food.
“The communal system, Bradford wrote, ‘was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment.’ Young men complained of ‘spend[ing] their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.’”
Perceived unfairness and injustices: Strong men working harder than weak men; single men providing for others’ families; young men doing more work than older men; women’s production of clothing given to those producing none of their own.
Facing starvation and deprivation, Gov. Bradford imposed the “unfairness” of private property and the possession of the fruits of one’s own labor. Sha-zam! All, even women and children, went willingly into the fields to grow their own corn, the excess of which could be traded or bartered for others’ self-produced wares.
Over a decade ago, before the Obamacare debate, this column used the above lessons to warn of the deceptively-promoted panacea of “socialized medicine,” idealistically praised while adherents deflected from the failures of government-run health care wherever imposed.
Economic facts remain: nothing can be “redistributed,” medicine or otherwise, without being taken from someone first. Progressive-minded ideologues stubbornly resist the fact that government is the least efficient, the most onerous, wasteful and, ultimately, the most despotic decider of what is “taken,” “distributed,” and mandated. Exhibit A: Government response to COVID-19 via mandates, lockdowns, closures, quarantines, vaccines, masking, travel, etc. “Constitution be damned, we know best, we are science, you will obey, or else.”