Across the United States, millions of Americans will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with friends and extended family to enjoy turkey, dressing… and political conversation. It never fails: the liberal aunt, the conservative cousin, the libertarian brother — they all have political opinions they’ll undoubtedly attempt to share in mixed company today.
I distinctly remember respectful conversations with my late great-uncle, who’d often say, “If you carry your lunch to work in a pail, you’re a Democrat.” And though we’d often disagree on public policy, we remained respectful of one another’s views. He and my other relatives were (and are) Southern Democrats, who long for the days of FDR-style big government.
But there are a couple Thanksgiving lessons that advocates of limited government can use to advance their views: one, historical; and the other, more modern.
John Stossel wrote about the Thanksgiving of 1623 back in 2010, noting that — after two grueling winters with very little food — Governor William Bradford empowered colonists to produce their own crops, rather than the previous communal farming techiques they had used in the previous two years.
When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property.Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.