Thanksgiving Reminder: We Started As Socialists

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The American Holiday Started When Collectivism Ended

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

They call this "Black Friday" in the United States. We Americans, bloated from our Thanksgiving feasts of yesterday, are set to waddle out in droves to our malls and stores and load up on the hot deals retailers are offering on Christmas gifts. Somebody somewhere will be trampled to death by the crowds. Thousands will try to jump the queue, step past or on other shoppers, rudely grab parking spots, and generally treat each other in ways that are very far away from holiday-inspired behaviors.

Most people have no clue how lucky they are to have the opportunity to do all this. If it hadn't been for one key decision by one frightened leader hundreds of years ago, America as we know it would never have existed.

It was the Plymouth Colony in New England, regarded by many as the birthplace of Thanksgiving, that discovered a phenomenon we've come to know as "the tragedy of the commons." See, when the colonists hopped off the ship from England, they were confronted by hardships. To deal with these, they thought it best to share everything: the shelters, the crops, the harvest, the tools... everything. They were the first American socialists.

Turns out that, as the tragedy of the commons has proven time and again, when everyone owns something, no one owns it... and when no one owns something, no one really cares for it.

Unmotivated by the socialist group ethic, the colonists reportedly did a half-fast job of sheltering themselves and working their collective farm. This went on for a couple of years, during which the entire colony nearly died out.

Then the leader came up with a crazy idea, born of desperation: he gave every family in the colony their own little farm, and tasked each of them to take care of themselves.

That was it. Just a little opportunity, and a lot of personal responsibility. Socialism hasn't worked, the leader thought... let's experiment with freedom.

The very next harvest was reportedly abundant. Every little family farm produced more than any family had produced under the collectivist model. Freedom worked! And the people rejoiced. Their rejoicing came to be known as "Thanksgiving Day," and we've celebrated the holiday in America ever since.

Occasionally, somebody decides they're smarter than the founders of the nation, and smarter than all the other people from all the other countries who've had the displeasure of experiencing collectivism firsthand. Occasionally somebody decides socialism really could work... sure, it's never worked before, but heck, let's give it a shot! No winners means no losers!

Not so. No winners means everybody loses.

In the U.S., we've seen a resurgence in "progressive" collectivist thought that started over a hundred years ago and has, through a slow and patient process of Evolution over Revolution, grown to threaten the great free society America has become over centuries. The current liberal government is trying to sprint to the finish line, doing everything they can to make good on President Obama's promise to "fundamentally transform" America. They've sprinted a little too fast, though, and their efforts have given rise to a "tea party movement" that has checked the "progressivism" and may yet help us return to freedom. For now, you can still get decent health care... and maybe the movement can succeed in derailing Obamacare so that your children will be able to, too. For now, you can still start a business and work hard to build wealth... and maybe the movement can check the liberals' march toward socialism so that your kids will be able to, too. For now, we're free... and if the new conservative movement is successful, we might be able to stay that way.

It's time to renew the spirit of Thanksgiving, to rethink our government's progressivism, and to refound the great free opportunity of America.

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Occupation: Speaker, Writer, Consultant, Coach
Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.

Those with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to make money "one less thing to worry about" can learn more about working with Michael at

Anyone wanting to jump-start their vitality can browse through the best (and most convenient) nutraceuticals on the market at

Michael and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael's web site at

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