Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Year’s Take on Thanksgiving

As we once again put our turkeys on our tables, we’re also seeing the annual appearance of some political turkeys for us to carve up as well. As usual, the fat oozing from their agendas tends to disguise the true flavor of the truths about our long-observed holiday.

This year’s crop of those turkeys is presented by Kate Zernicke in her 11/20 piece, “The Pilgrims Were ... Socialists?” in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/weekinreview/21zernike.html (or click on the headline of this posting).

She reminds us that we again have had the touting of the theory that Jamestown had to be saved from being a “socialist” enterprise because the land was originally owned communally and the settlers labored for the backers of the settlement. That theory overlooks the fact that the backers were the stockholders of the profit-motivated Virginia Company (which owned the land) and those settlers were their employees.

The settlers became colonists and, before 1618, the land was distributed as grants ("headrights") to those that were "Ancient Planters" (and among the Virginia Company's stockholders as a dividend in lieu of unrealized profits). Their ability (and of those that followed them) to freely buy, sell and trade that land amongst them and others was the instigation of our real estate industry.

The same holds true for a similar theory concerning the Plymouth colony that is our annual cultural focus this time of year. The voyagers on the Mayflower were backed by the same Virginia Company that was seeking a profit as they were in Jamestown, the religious Separatists’ convictions of about half of them notwithstanding.

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