How Property Rights Saved the Pilgrims After the First Thanksgiving

In Reason Magazine, Nick Gillespie and Meredith Bragg write about how the establishment of property rights among the pilgrims made them more “industrious” and banished the specter of “famine” that had killed many of the Pilgrims. We wrote earlier about how the communal economic system set up by the Pilgrims led to “chronic food shortages” even after the first Thanksgiving that led them to nearly “starve to death,” and how “little food was produced” until the Pilgrims changed their economic system to assign each family “a private parcel of land,” which led to vastly increased production of food.

In much of the world, property rights remain stunted. For example, in Ethiopia, peasants still cannot own land, although they can at least lease it unlike in the days of Communism (international aid has reinforced that country’s oppressive government and thus enabled it to avoid reforms like private landownership and privatization of state monopolies in its economy).

As Gillespie and Bragg note, on Thanksgiving we should “give thanks to the true patron of this holiday feast: property rights.”