Possibly you've read the story of how the Jamestown pilgrims nearly starved their first two years in America, and what saved them. In 1620, half the population of the Plymouth Colony died during its first harsh winter. The second half was close do doing so but...
the fall of 1623 marked the end of Plymouth’s debilitating food shortages.It's only one data point, but a characteristic one. The pattern has been repeated countless times in dozens of countries over centuries now. Yet, almost 400 years later, we're still debating Progressives about the practicality of Capitalism vs [Communism/Socialism/Social Democracy/You-name-it-ism].
For the last two planting seasons, the Pilgrims had grown crops communally – the approach first used at Jamestown and other English settlements. But as the disastrous harvest of the previous fall had shown, something drastic needed to be done to increase the annual yield.
In April, [William] Bradford [leader of the Plymouth colony] had decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew. The change in attitude was stunning. Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before.
In previous years, the men had tended the fields while the women tended the children at home. “The women now went willingly into the field,” Bradford wrote, “and took their little ones with them to set corn.” The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism. Although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.
Clearly, economic facts alone are not going to decide the issue. Progressives are immune. Time to ramp up the moral crusade. Time to declare that even if, contrary to all history, Paul Poorguy winds up much poorer than Peter Privileged, it's still wrong to force Peter to support Paul.
When we start to make progress on that front, I'll be truly thankful.
[Hat tip: Daniel Griswold of Cato for the selection from "Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathanial Philbrick."]