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The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving…despite what your liberal teachers may have told you

23 Nov 2011 1 comment

The original version of this Thanksgiving account was published by Mark Alexander in November of 2000 and can be found here.  Revisionists would have you believe their alleged scholarship rather than the words of the men who were actually there, but…how can it be scholarly if it’s wrong?  Thus Mr. Alexander quotes extensively (but not exclusively) from those early settlers who have the distinct advantage of first hand experience as opposed to agenda driven blathering.  I have added an occasional [(sarcastic?) comment] and emphasis scattered throughout.  Enjoy the article, and may you and yours have a blessed day of Thanksgiving for what we do have, and recommit ourselves to preserving and restoring the liberties so many have fought and died for on our behalf throughout the history of this greatest nation on earth.

~~~

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." —Psalm 100:4-5

Thanksgiving, as introduced by European explorers and settlers in the "New World," was a time set aside specifically for the purpose of giving thanks to our Creator for His manifold blessings.

The earliest record of a thanksgiving in America is 1541 by Spanish explorer Coronado at Palo Duro Canyon in what is now Texas. French Protestant colonists at Charlesfort (now Parris Island, South Carolina) held a thanksgiving service in 1564. In 1607, the Jamestown settlers held thanksgiving at Cape Henry, Virginia, and there are many other records of such hallowed observances.

The first call for an annual Thanksgiving was at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, in 1619, when Captain John Woodlief and 38 settlers aboard the ship Margaret, proclaimed, "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacion in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."

The first "harvest feast," however, was at Plymouth Colony in 1621, followed by a greater combined feast of Thanksgiving in 1623. Due to the fact that most history books following the War Between the States were written by Northern historians, it is that iconic event which is most directly associated with the current traditions for our national Day of Thanksgiving.

President Ronald Reagan often cited the Pilgrims who celebrated the First Thanksgiving as our forebears who charted the path of American freedom. He made frequent reference to John Winthrop’s "shining city upon a hill."

As Reagan explained, "The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free."

Who were these "freedom men," and how did they eventually blaze the path of true liberty?

They were Calvinist Protestants who rejected the institutional Church of England, believing that worshipping God must originate freely in the individual soul, without coercion. Suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their beliefs, a group of these separatists fled to Holland in 1608. There, they found spiritual liberty in the midst of a disjointed economy that failed to provide adequate compensation for their labors, and a dissolute, degraded, corrupt culture that tempted their children to stray from faith.

Determined to protect their families from such spiritual and cultural dangers, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620, sailing for a new world that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. After an arduous journey, they dropped anchor off the coast of what is now Massachusetts.

On 11 December 1620, prior to disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the Mayflower Compact, America’s original document of civil government. It was the first to introduce self-government, and the foundation on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were built. Plymouth Colony’s Governor, William Bradford, described the Compact as "a combination … that when they came a shore they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them."

Upon landing, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. They committed all their belongings to a "comone wealth." Under harrowing conditions, the colonists persisted through prayer and hard work, but the Winter of 1621 was devastating and only 53 of the original party survived.

However, with the help of the indigenous "Indians" in the region, the summer of 1621 was productive as recorded by Bradford in his diary: "They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion."

In addition to their regular expressions of reverence and thanksgiving to God, by the Autumn of 1621 the Pilgrims had enough produce to hold a three day "harvest feast." That feast was described in the journal of Edward Winslow: Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Endeavoring to improve the production at Plymouth Plantation, in 1622 Bradford implemented a collectivist policy, which almost destroyed the rest of the Plymouth settlement.

[Note the good intentions at the root of this policy, as in so many liberal policies today.]

Bradford wrote that to increase production, he allotted each family a plot of land, and mandated that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" must be forfeited to a common storehouse in order that "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock."

In theory, Bradford thought the colony would thrive because each family would receive equal share of produce without regard to their contribution.

[Note that:  in theory.  The reality of human nature, however, rapidly overcame the nicety of theory.  In short, another theory mugged by an ugly gang of facts!]

Unfortunately, then as always, collectivism only works in theory. It is antithetical to human nature, and destined to fail, as Plato’s student Aristotle observed in 350BC: "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it." But to this day, many still fail to grasp the "tragedy of the commons."

After abysmal results in 1622, Bradford realized that his collectivist plan had undermined the incentive to produce, noting that it "was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort." The women complained that being forced into servitude for others was "a kind of slavery," and some men had become "servants to the Indians" for a mere "capful of corn." Others had perished.

Bradford recorded in his journal that the Colony leaders "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

They decided to trade their collectivist plan for a free market approach, and in 1623, Bradford wrote, "This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use. … Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn. Instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. … Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day."

Property ownership and families freely laboring on their own behalf replaced the "common store," but only after their ill-advised experiment with communism nearly wiped out the entire settlement.

The Colony celebrated a much greater Harvest and Thanksgiving Day in 1623.

After the Pilgrims were given liberty and incentive to be industrious, the Colony thrived, and by 1624, production was so abundant that the Colony exported corn back to England.

And for generations since, to the extent men have been set at perfect liberty to establish free enterprise, to produce goods and services without having profits seized for redistribution, our nation has thrived.

During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress designated days of thanksgiving each year. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was made in 1777:

“FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

[What were they thinking?  Don’t they know about the separation of church and state?  And to specify Christianity as the foundation?!?  I am shocked!]

Of that proclamation, Samuel Adams wrote to another Declaration signer, Richard Henry Lee, noting the specificity of the language that, "the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ."

In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation’s blessings. George Washington issued that proclamation on October 3, 1789:

The first Thanksgiving Day designated by the United States of America was proclaimed by George Washington on October 3, 1789:

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

"Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."

Then-governor Thomas Jefferson followed with this 1789 proclamation in Virginia: "[I] appoint … a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God … to [ask] Him that He would … pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would … spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue."

[Wait, I thought Jefferson was a deist?  What’s he doing invoking “Christian” knowledge?!?]

Governor John Hancock proclaimed, "[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise … to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us … [by giving to] us … the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications … that He would forgive our manifold sins and cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth."

[Man, these yokels just don’t get it, do they?!  We’re supposed to be secular, not religious!]

Thanksgiving celebrations were irregularly proclaimed in the years that followed until the War Between the States. After 1863, presidents issued annual proclamations of Thanksgiving.

In 1941, with World War II on the horizon, the Senate and House approved the fourth Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving, perpetuating the observance annually.

Closing his farewell address in 1989, Ronald Reagan asked, "And how stands the city on this winter night?" Contemplating our blessings of liberty this Thanksgiving, more than two decades after President Reagan left office, how stands the city on our watch?

My fellow Patriots, never in the history of our country has there been such an acute, coordinated and vicious assault upon our rights and upon the forms of government established to protect those rights. From individuals, to state governments, to federal institutions initiated at the dawn of our Constitution, nothing, absolutely nothing, is sacred to the current liberal hegemony seeking to dispense with our Constitution.

But take heart, for as George Washington wrote in the darkest days of our American Revolution, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Of such exertions, Washington wrote, "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."

So it is that on Thursday of this week, Thanksgiving Day, we are called to pause and take respite in order to acknowledge the divine intervention of our Creator throughout the history of this great nation; in order to recommit ourselves to obeisance of His will; in order to express our gratitude and give Him all thanks and praise for the bounty which He has bestowed the United States of America — land of the free, home of the brave, that shining city on the hill; and in order to all the more humbly implore that He protect us and grant us much favor in our coming struggle to re-establish Rule of Law over rule of men.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:4-5)

"America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance. Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people." Ronald Wilson Reagan

This is the genuine spirit of Thanksgiving.

[While there is little at add to the above, let me be perfectly clear:  this nation was founded as a Christian nation, not a secular one, as amply shown by the writing of those founders, not the phony scholarship of those who would have it otherwise because it fits their agenda better.  This founding Christianity is a Christianity that is tolerant of other religions provided those other religions are not bent on destruction of the freedoms we have, including the freedom of religion, not the freedom from religion.  Amen.  And once again, happy Thanksgiving!]

 

commited 20101114 thanksgiving

Ah! Charades!

I seem to be on a Sowell “kick” just now, but he’s giving us soooo much good information and analysis and demonstrating so clearly what “critical thinking” is all about when applied to the current political milieu.  Over at NRO, he starts today’s analysis with this gem (emphases added):

Many people are lamenting the failure of the congressional “supercommittee” to come up with an agreement on ways to reduce the runaway federal deficits. But you cannot judge success or failure without knowing what the goal was.

Perhaps you would think this to be obvious, but a common strategy is to lie about or otherwise obfuscate your true goals.  Goals, like definitions, must be clearly stated and held in common if true progress is to be made.  His conclusion regarding the topic under discussion?

If you think the goal was to solve the country’s fiscal crisis, then obviously the supercommittee was a complete failure. But, if you think the goal was to improve the chances of the Obama administration being reelected in 2012, it was a complete success.

He then goes on to explain in terms even the semi-brain dead can understand (which is one of Dr. Sowell’s strong points, the ability to communicate complex ideas simply) how he arrived at that conclusion.  Go read the whole thing, now!

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Luke 12:3 strikes yet again!

Alice in Liberal Land

22 Nov 2011 1 comment

Dr. Thomas Sowell’s most recent article of the above title hits the nail on the head, this time comparing a delightful and thought provoking book with the reality challenged, alleged thinking found in liberalism.  Once again we have clearly demonstrated how fantasy collides with said reality when liberals try to foist their ideas upon the Land of the Living.  (You can find some of my favorite Lewis Carroll quotes on my Quotable Quotes page.  I’ve taken the liberty of inserting a few into the text below, hopefully in enlightening spots!)  Meanwhile, enjoy this latest offering from one of my favorite anti-idiotarians!

~~~

"Alice in Wonderland" was written by a professor who also wrote a book on symbolic logic. So it is not surprising that Alice encountered not only strange behavior in Wonderland, but also strange and illogical reasoning — of a sort too often found in the real world, and which a logician would be very much aware of.

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

If Alice could visit the world of liberal rhetoric and assumptions today, she might find similarly illogical and bizarre thinking. But people suffering in the current economy might not find it nearly as entertaining as "Alice in Wonderland."

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the world envisioned by today’s liberals is that it is a world where other people just passively accept whatever "change" liberals impose. In the world of Liberal Land, you can just take for granted all the benefits of the existing society, and then simply tack on your new, wonderful ideas that will make things better.

“I quite agree with you,” said the Duchess; “and the moral of that is – ‘Be what you would seem to be’ – or if you’d like it put more simply – Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”

“I think I should understand that better,” Alice said very politely, “if I had it written down: but I can’t quite follow it as you say it.”

For example, if the economy is going along well and you happen to take a notion that there ought to be more home ownership, especially among the poor and minorities, then you simply have the government decree that lenders have to lend to more low-income people and minorities who want mortgages, ending finicky mortgage standards about down payments, income and credit histories.

“Another sandwich!” said the King.

“There’s nothing but hay left now,” the Messenger said, peeping into the bag.

“Hay, then,” the King murmured in a faint whisper.

Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. “There’s nothing like eating hay when you’re faint,” he remarked to her, as he munched away.

“I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,” Alice suggested: “or some sal-volatile.”

“I didn’t say there was nothing BETTER,” the King replied. “I said there was nothing LIKE it.” Which Alice did not venture to deny.

That sounds like a fine idea in the world of Liberal Land. Unfortunately, in the ugly world of reality, it turned out to be a financial disaster, from which the economy has still not yet recovered. Nor have the poor and minorities.

Apparently you cannot just tack on your pet notions to whatever already exists, without repercussions spreading throughout the whole economy. That’s what happens in the ugly world of reality, as distinguished from the beautiful world of Liberal Land.

The strange and bizarre characters found in "Alice in Wonderland" have counterparts in the political vision of Liberal Land today. Among the most interesting of these characters are those elites who are convinced that they are so much smarter than the rest of us that they feel both a right and a duty to take all sorts of decisions out of our incompetent hands — for our own good.

“I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.

“I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To be able to see Nobody! And at this distance, too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!”

In San Francisco, which is Liberal Land personified, there have been attempts to ban the circumcision of newborn baby boys. Fortunately, that was nipped in the bud. But it shows how widely the self-anointed saviors of Liberal Land feel entitled to take decisions out of the hands of mere ordinary citizens.

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner says, "We’re facing a very consequential debate about some fundamental choices as a country." People talk that way in Liberal Land. Moreover, such statements pass muster with those who simply take in the words, decide whether they sound nice to them, and then move on.

But, if you take words seriously, the more fundamental question is whether individuals are to remain free to make their own choices, as distinguished from having collectivized choices, "as a country" — which is to say, having choices made by government officials and imposed on the rest of us.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master– that’s all.”

The history of the 20th century is a painful lesson on what happens when collective choices replace individual choices. Even leaving aside the chilling history of totalitarianism in the 20th century, the history of economic central planning shows it to have been such a widely recognized disaster that even communist and socialist governments were abandoning it as the century ended.

Making choices "as a country" cannot be avoided in some cases, such as elections or referenda. But that is very different from saying that decisions in general should be made "as a country" — which boils down to having people like Timothy Geithner taking more and more decisions out of our own hands and imposing their will on the rest of us. That way lies madness exceeding anything done by the Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland."

That way lie unfunded mandates, nanny state interventions in people’s lives, such as banning circumcision — and the ultimate nanny state monstrosity, ObamaCare.

The world of reality has its problems, so it is understandable that some people want to escape to a different world, where you can talk lofty talk and forget about ugly realities like costs and repercussions. The world of reality is not nearly as lovely as the world of Liberal Land. No wonder so many people want to go there.

Dr. Sowell and Occupy Wall Street

There is a short essay currently being posted on various blogs that appears to be incorrectly attributed to Dr. Thomas Sowell.  The confusion probably arises from the fact that the original author closed with a quotation by Dr. Sowell, and thus the whole essay has been attributed to him.

Regardless, this unknown author has made a brilliant assessment of our nation at this hour in history:

The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama’s America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.

It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American civil society.

It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person’s guaranteed liberties.

It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members will live in opulent splendor.

It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood , unions, universities, the Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American foreign entities.

Barack Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he and his comrades are capable of.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the annihilation of America.

“Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” – Thomas Sowell

This is not to say that Dr. Sowell has been silent on the OWS phenomenon.  Quite to the contrary, his analysis has been just as cutting in its clarity and accuracy.

Democracy Versus Mob Rule

By Thomas Sowell, October 31, 2011

In various cities across the country, mobs of mostly young, mostly incoherent, often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrators are making themselves a major nuisance.

Meanwhile, many in the media are practically gushing over these “protesters,” and giving them the free publicity they crave for themselves and their cause — whatever that is, beyond venting their emotions on television.

Members of the mobs apparently believe that other people, who are working while they are out trashing the streets, should be forced to subsidize their college education — and apparently the President of the United States thinks so too.

But if these loud mouths’ inability to put together a coherent line of thought is any indication of their education, the taxpayers should demand their money back for having that money wasted on them for years in the public schools.

Sloppy words and sloppy thinking often go together, both in the mobs and in the media that are covering them. It is common, for example, to hear in the media how some “protesters” were arrested. But anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I protest against all sorts of things — and don’t get arrested.

The difference is that I don’t block traffic, join mobs sleeping overnight in parks or urinate in the street. If the media cannot distinguish between protesting and disturbing the peace, then their education may also have wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money.

Among the favorite sloppy words used by the shrill mobs in the streets is “Wall Street greed.” But even if you think people in Wall Street, or anywhere else, are making more money than they deserve, “greed” is no explanation whatever.

“Greed” says how much you want. But you can become the greediest person on earth and that will not increase your pay in the slightest. It is what other people pay you that increases your income.

If the government has been sending too much of the taxpayers’ money to people in Wall Street — or anywhere else — then the irresponsibility or corruption of politicians is the problem.

 

“Occupy Wall Street” hooligans should be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Maybe some of the bankers or financiers should have turned down the millions and billions that politicians were offering them. But sainthood is no more common in Wall Street than on Pennsylvania Avenue — or in the media or academia, for that matter.

Actually, some banks did try to refuse the government bailout money, to avoid the interference with their business that they knew would come with it. But the feds insisted — and federal regulators’ power to create big financial problems for banks made it hard to say no. The feds made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

People who cannot distinguish between democracy and mob rule may fall for the idea that the hooligans in the street represent the 99 percent who are protesting about the “greed” of the one percent. But these hooligans are less than one percent and they are grossly violating the rights of vastly larger numbers of people who have to put up with their trashing of the streets by day and their noise that keeps working people awake at night.

As for the “top one percent” in income that attract so much attention, angst and denunciation, there is always going to be a top one percent, unless everybody has the same income. That top one percent has no more monopoly on sainthood or villainy than people in any other bracket.

Moreover, that top one percent does not consist of the “millionaires and billionaires” that Barack Obama talks about. You don’t even have to make half a million dollars to be in the top one percent.

Moreover, this is not an enduring class of people. Nor are people in other income brackets. Most of the people in the top one percent at any given time are there for only one year. Anyone who sells an average home in San Francisco can get into the top one percent in income — for that year. Other one-time spikes in income account for most of the people in that top one percent.

But such plain facts carry little weight amid the heady rhetoric and mindless emotions of the mob and the media.


Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/10/31/democracy-versus-mob-rule/

In addition, Dr. Sowell has been interviewed recently, in which he also talks about Occupy Wall Street.

Thomas Sowell Interview Part 1: Occupy Wall Street: Thomas Sowell has just released “The Thomas Sowell Reader,” a collection of writings from the seemingly endless books and columns he has written over the years. Sowell recently took time to do an interview with IBD about the “Reader” and current events.

Thomas Sowell Part 2: Occupy Higher Education: They’ve gotten their money’s worth because it is mostly other people’s money that has paid for their education. But do I think that taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth? By no means. Taxpayers are paying something like $10,000 per student per year and you end up with people who are absolutely incoherent. It’s unbelievable. Every interview I’ve seen of these protesters, they can’t string together three sentences that make any coherent sense.

Thomas Sowell Part 3: Income Inequality And Economic Myths: The other thing is that most people who are in the top 1% in income are there only one year. Over a period of about a decade the IRS tracked these people by Social Security numbers. Something like two-thirds of the people who were in the top 1% during that decade were in there one time. Only 13% were in there two years. Pundits talk about these income brackets as if they are enduring classes of people when they are simply transient snapshots of people who happen to be there right now.

It will be well worth your time to digest thoroughly the words of wisdom from this noted conservative, who, by the way, happens to have a Ph.D. in economics and thus might have an inkling whereof he speaks.

The Washington Way

…and that would be D.C., not George.

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Here’s the most critical question for you…

16 Nov 2011 1 comment

From an old dead white guy who’s still as relevant today as he was in his own:

How are you using your time? Life is short and very uncertain. You never know what a day may bring forth. Business and pleasure, money-getting and money-spending, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage—all, all will soon be over and done with forever. And you, what are you doing for your immortal soul? Are you wasting time, or turning it to good account? Are you preparing to meet God?

This from J. C. Ryle in his tract, Thoughts on Immortality.

(HT:  JCRyleQuotes)