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Economic Lessons of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a welcome time to gather with our families and reflect on the blessings in each of our lives. The history behind the holiday, however, can also teach us lessons about how we can and should live together with our fellow Americans.

John Stossel, is a new video for Reason TV, looks back to the practice of communal property that defined the earliest days of the Plymouth colony and offers us an important reminder about the economic concept of the “tragedy of the commons.” In short, when everyone has an equal share of everything, each person has an incentive to consume available resources as quickly as possible, but not to conserve and improve the underlying property. Allowing people to own, divide, divest, and buy new land encourages people to protect the value of what’s theirs and defer gratification for long term gain.

There are also delicious gains to be had at the holiday buffet table, though if you’re worried about chemical additives and pesticides in your food, you may have a little health-related anxiety mixed in with your desire for a tasty meal. Fortunately, my colleague Angela Logomasini can put your mind to rest with her latest contribution to the Huffington Post, “Neurotoxins in Your Thanksgiving Meal?