16028_4.20_000004413409XSmall

An Economic Story From Plymouth Plantation

Nov 25, 2010 • Developing Economies, Economic Debates, Economic History, Labor, Macroeconomic Measurement, Thinking Economically • 140 Views    No Comments

In 1623, two years after the first Thanksgiving, Governor William Bradford was worried about Plymouth’s food supply. The problem, he concluded, was that people shared whatever they produced. Because “able and fit” young men were expected to work harder and then give their food to others, all worked less.

As Bradford explained it in Of Plymouth Plantation,”So they began to think how they…could…obtain a better crop than they had done…At length…the Governor…so assigned to every family a parcel of land…This had very good results for it made all hands very industrious…”

You can see what happened. When people could keep what they produced, they became more industrious.

The Economic Lesson

Equality or efficiency was a dilemma in 1623 and remains a dilemma today. The basic question involves how much of what we produce should we keep?

Maybe, especially on Thanksgiving, we can say it all takes us back to the size of the pie.

Related Posts

« »