How collectivism nearly killed the Pilgrims, and still keeps Native Americans in poverty

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No group in America has been more “helped” and “managed” by the federal government than Indians. Because of that, no group has done worse.
Homes on reservations are likely to lack electricity and indoor plumbing. There is serious alcoholism and drug abuse. A staggering number of American Indians are unemployed. Many commit suicide.

Thanksgiving Tragedy: Property rights saved the Pilgrims from starvation; a lack of property keeps Indians in poverty today

I know that seems weird, but before that first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims nearly starved to death because they didn’t respect private property.

When they first arrived in Massachusetts, they acted like Bernie Sanders wants us to act. They farmed “collectively.” Pilgrims said, “We’ll grow food together and divide the harvest equally.”

Bad idea. Economists call this the “tragedy of the commons.” When everyone works “together,” some people don’t work very hard.

Likewise, when the crops were ready to eat, some grabbed extra food—sometimes picking corn at night, before it was fully ready. Teenagers were especially lazy and likely to steal the commune’s crops.

Pilgrims almost starved. Governor Bradford wrote in his diary, “So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could… that they might not still thus languish in misery.”

His answer: He divided the commune into parcels and assigned each Pilgrim his own property, or as Bradford put it, “set corn every man for his own particular. … Assigned every family a parcel of land.”

That simple change brought the Pilgrims so much plenty that they could share food with Indians. Bradford wrote that it “made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

We see this principle at work all around us today. America is prosperous because private property is mostly respected, and people work hard to protect what they own. China rose out of poverty only when the Communist rulers finally allowed people to own property and keep profits from it.

But wait, you say, didn’t the Native Americans live communally? Isn’t that proof that socialism and collective property work?

No. It’s a myth that the Native Americans had no property rules. They had property—and European settlers should have treated those rules with respect.

Native American property rules varied. There wasn’t much point trying to establish private property in rocky hinterlands where no one traveled. But, writes Terry Anderson of the Property and Environment Research Center, “Private garden plots were common in the East, as were large community fields with plots assigned to individual families. Harvesting on each plot was done by the owning family, with the bounty stored in the family’s own storehouse.”

Today, however, many American Indians live in poverty. It’s not because Native Americans are lazy or irresponsible. When Indians are allowed to own their own land, they prosper. The laws of economics are the same for all people.

I asked Manny Jules, chief of the Kamloops Indian Band for 16 years, why so many Indians are poor.

“Nobody chooses poverty,” he said. “We’ve been legislated out of the economy by the federal governments, both in the United States and Canada.”

That sounds odd to people who know how much money governments spend to “care for” Indians.

“Well, by taking care of us, that means providing social welfare programs,” says Jules. “The only way to break the cycle of poverty (is) real property rights.”

The U.S. government, after killing thousands of Native Americans and restricting others to reservations, gave tribal governments control over Indians’ lives, in collaboration with the government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Since then, no group in America has been more “helped” and “managed” by the federal government than Indians. Because of that, no group has done worse.
Homes on reservations are likely to lack electricity and indoor plumbing. There is serious alcoholism and drug abuse. A staggering number of American Indians are unemployed. Many commit suicide.

John Stossel

Please read the full article HERE


Free Range Report



  1. John Stossel always writes an excellent article on myriad subjects. This article is no exception, although you might have missed a couple aspects of this social problem. And John, I refuse to call them Native Americans because that is the PC term, they are Indians. Except for their own wacked out activists calling themselves Native Americans – not unlike activists everywhere – the people call themselves Indians, or simply “the people”. You, John, are not called a German-American, and neither am I. We are just Americans. So are the Indians. They are Americans, not some hyphenated group with a meaningless PC title.
    I have lived around Indians all my life in the southwest. As a people they are pathetic. The government and its Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have created generations of people that are so lazy they can’t get out of their own way. They are without incentive, ambition, or the intellect to carry out an idea should one occur to them. It is not that they are stupid, they aren’t, but their dependence on government largess has reached a monumental level that has resulted in the complete disgrace and destruction of a once proud people. The Indian reservation welfare system has reduced them to vacuous drunks cluttering up wherever they happen to be.
    Like all welfare systems the BIA has seen its finest hour and should be disbanded because it has done all the damage to the American Indian that these people can stand. Indians are like wild birds that you feed in your backyards, they will continue to grovel for your handouts as long as you offer them.
    Stop all this support nonsense; make the Indian people stand on their own two feet, like most of the rest of us. Discard the reservation system and let the Indian people buy the land they occupy or homestead their land. Private property, their own property would give them a sense of accomplishment that none of them have ever felt since they roamed free on the land. That way they would at least own something, be responsible for something, their own lives if nothing else, so they can recover their dignity and sense of self-worth.

    1. I live here among the Indians and I totally agree. They receive sooo much free stuff they have no reason to work for anything. They receive so much free that they are at the park and flea markets selling the stuff that they got for free and making enough to live the rest of the week. Along with the monthly checks the kids get paid for going to the community centers and playing basketball. They don’t live in poverty because they get sooo much free. They only have to show what they make at jobs so the government thinks they are living in poverty.

  2. You two commenters – and the author of this article – all are clearly out of your minds… you act as if they put themselves on reservations! LOL. Know you not of Sitting Bull who tried to refuse the reservation? Of Geronimo who tried to refuse displacement? Know you not of Native resistance? Then to assert that they should buy the land they occupy!?! The land they’ve inherited after their ancestors were forcibly displaced or confined… the land that their ancestors were told they must stay on or die… the land that was “guaranteed” only to be encroached upon for the money interests of large corporations to this day… the land their children were kidnapped from to be raised by white Americans who often subjected them to physical, verbal, mental and sexual abuse and were paid (i.e. given handouts) to rob them of their cultural heritage… now you want their descendants to buy that land so that they can feel a sense of accomplishment and dignity?!? You are twisted and have not shaped your perspective out of any historical context and seemingly without compassion of any kind. What nations get from our government were the terms their ancestors negotiated as sovereign nations conceding to ours as they fell victim to colonization. They are entitled to what they get however large or small. The least we can do is honor the treaties, since our government has already broken so many. If you want to help them improve the quality of their lives, perhaps you can invest some time in educating yourselves before you make any more suggestions.

    1. Free Range Report supports the sovereignty of all peoples. We print these stories to show the horrible treatment of Natives who remain trapped in the government system, which is corrupt, self-serving and heartless. Our hope is that the People will reject the current system and seek solutions through local control, local stewardship, and policy which promotes freedom and economic promise, to abolish the existing reservation system, and replace it with a plan which frees all from the shackles of corrupt bureaucrats and the Utopian delusions of our ‘leaders’ in Washington D.C.

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