Revealed: The Pentagon Supports More than ONE MILLION Desk Jobs

We wrote previously about how we like to ask people how many bureaucrats work at the federal Department of Agriculture. Many people make only a four-figure guess like 3,000 or 5,000. Occasionally, someone will guess as high as 50,000. The real answer is about 106,000. What do all those people do?

Now for the first time a study has pierced the government’s veil of secrecy to report a summary of employment at the Pentagon. The Pentagon put together a board of “corporate experts” to do the study. As part of the study, the experts made a count of the number of people working desk jobs far from the front. These are people, mostly civilians, working in the Pentagon’s “business operations,” providing back-end support services such as logistics, procurement, accounting, and property management. So how many desk jobs does the Pentagon support? More than one million.

“We are spending a lot more money than we thought,” the report stated. It then broke down how the Defense Department was spending $134 billion a year on business operations — about 50 percent more than McKinsey had guessed at the outset.

Almost half of the Pentagon’s back-office personnel — 457,000 full-time employees — were assigned to logistics or supply-chain jobs. That alone exceeded the size of United Parcel Service’s global workforce.

The Pentagon’s purchasing bureaucracy counted 207,000 full-time workers. By itself, that would rank among the top 30 private employers in the United States.

More than 192,000 people worked in property management. About 84,000 people held human-resources jobs.

The one million includes the hiring of some 268,000 outside contractors, a shadowy business that ends up costing taxpayers an average of $180,000 per contractor.

Although the board of experts was commissioned by top leadership at the Pentagon itself, after the study uncovered massive waste, the Pentagon ditched the report and tried to cover up the findings. In particular, the Pentagon feared that the board’s plan to eliminate $125 billion in waste over five years would cause Congress to make budget cuts.

For the military, the major allure of the study was that it called for reallocating the $125 billion for troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.

But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.

So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.

In other words, the fact that the study uncovered so much waste shows that all that talk of austerity was a huge lie.

“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money. We proposed a way to save a ton of money,” said Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, a private-equity investor from Jacksonville, Fla., who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board.

Stein, a campaign bundler for President Obama, said the study’s data were “indisputable” and that it was “a travesty” for the Pentagon to suppress the results.

“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he added.

While ordinary American households are clipping coupons to save a couple of bucks, the Pentagon is blowing through their hard-earned tax dollars like it’s play money.


Reminder: Nutritionists are Quacks

Writing in the Boston Globe, Barbara Moran has a pretty good piece summarizing how bad has been conventional dietary advice over the past several decades. Nutritionists and supposed experts told us with great confidence that low-fat was the way to go. In response, the food industry created a plethora of low-fat versions of traditionally fatty products: cookies, ice cream, yogurt, etc. But the science was not so settled as they led us to believe. As Americans ate less fat, they got fatter.

The problem is that a low fat product or diet almost inevitably replaces the fat with more carbohydrates, which causes the body to produce insulin. And insulin induces the body to store fat.

We digest simple sugars and refined carbohydrates (white rice, pasta, and bread) very quickly, causing elevated blood sugar. So our bodies tell the pancreas to release insulin, which lets our cells remove the extra sugar from the bloodstream. It’s a beautiful, elegant system, until we throw it off by eating three bowls of Froot Loops and spiking our insulin into the sky.

“Insulin is the Miracle-Gro for your fat cells,” says David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at Harvard’s public health school and director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. “When we eat foods that raise insulin too much,” he says, “it programs the fat cells to store more than their fair share of those incoming calories.” The result: hunger and more eating. “High-fat foods like olive oil, nuts, avocado, full-fat yogurt have a lot of calories but they’re intensely satiating, in part because they don’t raise blood sugar or insulin very much,” says Ludwig. “So the incoming calories don’t get as easily stored into fat cells and are more available for the rest of the body.”

Scientists like Ludwig blame the anti-fat years, in part, for today’s obesity epidemic. “I argue that the low-fat diet was a massive public health mistake, which is causing ongoing harms because it continues to pervade public consciousness and national nutritional policy,” Ludwig says.

Indeed, low-fat dogma does continue to “pervade…national nutrition policy.” Check out the following government-sponsored stupidity.

The 2012 National School Lunch Nutrition Standards banned whole milk but allowed chocolate skim milk with its added sugar. The National Institutes of Health website lists fat-free creamy salad dressing and fat-free sour cream as “almost anytime” foods while sticking nuts and avocados in the “sometimes” food category, alongside sports drinks and ginger snaps.

Even Moran’s article, although it challenges the conventional wisdom, does not go far enough in its defense of fat. She seems to be under the impression that only plant-based fats like nuts and olive oil are healthy, and not animal fats. In fact, the latest research shows that animal fats are healthy, or at least not unhealthy. We reported previously, for instance, on studies showing that whole milk is actually healthier than low-fat or skim milk.

In any event, Moran’s article is at least a step in the right direction, and evidence that people’s thinking is starting to change. There’s still a long way to go, however, and entrenched interests to overcome. For instance, when one doctor in Australia tried to tell the public the truth about fat, professional dieticians tried to use the regulatory agency to shut him up.

DR GARY FETTKE: What I have been advocating for some years is cutting sugar down, particularly the refined sugars in the diet.

Over time that’s evolved to what I call low carb healthy fat living.

It’s really not high fat eating, it is eating lots of vegetables and lots of pasture-fed meat and the right amount of oil in the form of nuts, avocado, cheese, olive oil and fish.

NATALIE WHITING: He started calling for changes to the food served in the Launceston general hospital and then criticising a lack of action.

DR GARY FETTKE: I can promise that I tried going to these areas of the hospital saying, “Can we meet? Can we meet? Can we discuss?” And it just didn’t happen.

And so ultimately I tried to get louder and getting louder within the hospital wasn’t happening so I then started going to another forum which was out to the public.

NATALIE WHITING: According to Dr Fettke an anonymous complaint from a dietician at the hospital sparked an investigation by the Australian health practitioner regulation agency known as AHPRA.

Two-and-a-half years later the watchdog found he was working outside his scope of practice and was not qualified to give specific nutritional advice and he was ordered to stop talking about the low carbohydrate, high fat diet or LCHF.

DR GARY FETTKE: I have been contacted by many doctors. I know that the AMA has been contacted by many doctors as well as the Medical Protection Society. What does it mean?

You go to your cardiologist and he tells you what to eat. You go to a neurosurgeon, he tells you what to eat.

Gastroenterologist – and all of them by definition don’t have a major training in nutrition but they are all giving advice.

NATALIE WHITING: It wasn’t just advice to patients that worried AHPRA. A website and social media accounts he operated also came under scrutiny.
MELANIE MCGRICE, DIETICIAN: Doctors and other health care professionals play a very important role but when it comes to medical conditions and tailored dietary advice that is where people need to going and speaking to an accredited practising dietitian.

Yeah, Melanie, the problem is that ‘accredited practising dietitians’ like you are the same people who dished out wrongheaded advice for the last forty years. That’s why we need robust and free debate and not attempts to use the fallacious ‘argument from authority’ to shut people up.

At this point, I’m adding dieticians to my list of ‘credential experts’ whose advice is so systematically piss-poor that you’re better off pulling a Costanza and doing the opposite.

  • Dieticians/ Nutritionists
  • Chiropractors
  • Environmentalists
  • Marriage counselors
  • Paul Krugman

No credibility.


Why Do Leftists Accept Dirty Money?

We wrote a couple of weeks ago about the controversy surrounding Hampshire College, where an American flag can’t fly without students pulling it down and burning it. We noted in particular the bizarre quote from a Hampshire student stating that his family was paying for his education with, essentially, blood money.

I have to recognize the fact that the wealth of my parents that was able to pay for this institution was garnered off of slavery and was taken from exploitation. The land that I live on was taken from native peoples, and the land that I live on, back home in Portland, was taken from native peoples. It’s the wealth of people who’ve been oppressed and who’ve had things stolen from them that allow me to go to this institution.

Turns out that television personality ‘Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe also noticed the Hampshire kerfuffle, and he posed a very good question on the issue of ‘dirty money.’

Tuition at Hampshire College is about $60,000 a year. That’s not a problem because it’s expensive – it’s a problem because 85% of Hampshire students qualify for some form of federal financial aid. That means that We the People are enabling schools like Hampshire to sell a liberal arts degree for approximately $250,000.
.[W]hy [does] the President of Hampshire College…allow his students to pay for their tuition with federal dollars – federal dollars provided by the same government whose flag was no longer suitable to fly at his school?
I found myself thinking how nice it would be to hear a more persuasive argument from those who will happily take money from a country whose flag they despise.

Indeed. If the United States is so irredeemably iniquitous that Hampshire cannot abide a display of the nation’s flag, how can Hampshire justify pocketing millions of dollars from the U.S. government? Would they have accepted money in the 1930s from Nazi Germany?

Nobody is forcing Hampshire to take federal money. In fact, there are a few conservative institutions like Hillsdale College and Grove City College that eschew federal money. Until these leftists put their money where their mouth is and start turning down federal money, I’m going to conclude that they’re not serious people, and that all the anti-American antics are just so much narcissistic virtue-signaling.


The Great Higher-Ed Bailout

A new report by the General Accounting office finds that the Department of Education dramatically underestimated losses on student loans. For loans made during the past eight years, the agency underestimated losses by more than half. For loans made between 1995 and 2017, GAO estimates that taxpayers will have to foot the bill for nearly…wait for it…40 percent of loans.

To help people manage their student loans, the Obama administration has expanded programs that cap monthly payments to a percentage of earnings and eventually forgives the balance. Enrollment in these income-driven repayment plans is soaring and so is the cost, but the government’s budget estimates are not keeping pace…

The GAO estimates that $215 billion, or 61 percent of the debt in income-driven plans, will be paid in full. Another $108 billion will be forgiven, with the remaining $29 billion discharged because of death or disability. But those estimates are only for loans made from 1995 to 2017. As more people sign up, the cost of the program will soar.

So the required taxpayer bailout for loans made thus far is already $108 billion, and as loans continue to be made, the cost is expected to increase exponentially. After just a few more years, we could be looking at $200 billion. As the old saying goes, a hundred billion here, a hundred billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Despite the size of this problem, it doesn’t seem to be stirring much controversy. I’m old enough to remember when the 1979 bailout of Chrysler was hugely controversial, even though the amount was only about $5 billion in terms of today’s income levels. The so-called Chrysler bailout wasn’t even a gift from taxpayers, or even a loan from taxpayers. It was just a taxpayer guarantee that enabled Chrysler to obtain private financing, and a few years later, Chrysler repaid the loan at no cost to taxpayers.

The 1989 bailout of depositors in the collapsed Savings and Loan industry did impose a cost on taxpayers, to the tune of about $250 billion in today’s dollars. That total might start to be approached by the student loan program, unless changes are made, after just a few more years.

“As the Trump administration comes into power they need to take a measured approach that develops a program that is well targeted to the neediest borrowers,” said Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “Regardless of who’s in power, the issue of college affordability is a real problem, and while these plans are helpful, they are not a solution.”

Federal subsidies to tuition purchases do not make college more affordable, they just allow colleges to keep overcharging. Subsidies to demand will inevitably bid up prices. That’s just basic supply and demand analysis.

It’s not the students who are getting bailed out by taxpayers. It’s the universities, or more specifically, the bloated university bureaucracies.

GOP Medicare Push Lacks Political Legitimacy


Did Paul Ryan suddenly discover after the election that he wants to pass Medicare reforms? Or is it just that he and the rest of the GOP kept quiet until after the election? Either way, it’s too late now to start making new policy proposals. If the GOP wants to reform Medicare, they should wait until the next election and campaign on that issue.

In a democratic republic, major changes in policy are not supposed to be carried out without consulting the people. That’s what elections are for. Elections are when the people get to have their say. If the people haven’t been consulted, then government officials have no mandate and no moral standing to make policy changes that will significantly impact hundreds of millions of people. The House GOP’s current push to change Medicare therefore lacks democratic legitimacy.

The political class mustn’t be allowed to keep elections focused on phony distractions like birth control or overweight ex-beauty queens, and then to impose their real agenda after the election. After all, if elections have nothing to do with the post-election agenda, then what’s the point? That road leads to an effective disenfranchisement of the people.

Of course, there’s plenty of historical precedent for the political bait and switch. In 1932, FDR did not campaign on the New Deal. In 2004, George W. Bush said nothing about privatizing Social Security, then tried to do so immediately after the election. Angela Merkel said nothing at election time about fundamentally transforming her nation by granting residency to over a million Arabs. But all that precedent doesn’t make the practice legitimate. It just means the problem has been around a long time.

The GOP Medicare reforms might or might not be good policy. Regardless, those reforms must be resisted on the grounds of democratic principle. What the GOP is trying to do is nothing less than a form of tyranny.

The Trouble with Propaganda…

…is that it doesn’t work if the public has access to alternative voices that can contradict the lies. That’s why totalitarian states always have to couple propaganda with ruthless censorship.

This election year, Democrats got their usual billion dollars worth of in-kind contribution from the legacy media, but it wasn’t quite enough to drag their candidate’s felonious and diseased carcass across the finish line. As a result, they are now trying to restore the effectiveness of their propaganda machine by silencing alternative voices. And so, leftoids are organizing a boycott of Breitbart media. Unfortunately, they seem to be having some success as they got Allstate and Kellogg to pull advertising.


Some are also claiming that Apple pulled the Breitbart app from its app store, although I have not been able to confirm that.

It certainly says a lot about leftists that they would rather shut down the debate than try to win it. Their actions do reflect fragility and lack of confidence in their arguments. If they thought their arguments could win the day, they wouldn’t be nearly so keen to suppress speech.

Look, I am not the type of person who seeks to politicize every aspect of life. I work with, and do business with, people who don’t share my political views. But the theory of games teaches us that tit-for-tat is generally an effective strategy. If the left wants to play the boycott game, then GAME ON. There are a couple of Kellogg products that I’ve been purchasing on a fairly regular basis for years. But no more. I don’t currently have Allstate insurance, and I’ll be sure to keep it that way.

Gotta laugh when campus pinks try to argue that corporate America is conservative. That’s a good one.

The Real Cuba

The fact that liberals this weekend were lamenting the death of the despicable tyrant Fidel Castro pretty much tells you everything you need to know about them. Castro ruled over a repressive prison-state where people could not move freely, speak freely, start a business, or join a labor union. It was also an apartheid state where a group of white usurpers ruled with an iron fist over a largely-black nation. But Fidel was a socialist who clashed with the United States, so liberals loved him.

I recall a few years ago I had a leftist student from the Netherlands telling me that the Cuban health care system was better than America’s. I replied that should he need medial care while in the States, instead of bringing him to Miami Valley Hospital we would take up a collection to fly him to Havana.

Most of Cuba’s best doctors were actually sent to work in Venezuela in exchange for oil, and patients in Cuban hospitals have to supply their own bed sheets, food, and iodine. Rural clinics have dirt floors and reuse disposable syringes. But commie propaganda says it’s better than America, and zombie liberals repeat it.

Michael Totten is a real journalist–not the usual stenographer for the Democratic National Committee–who sneeked into Cuba recently to investigate. His report is enlightening and very well written. Totten shatters the myths about Cuba, and in particular the myth that before Castro took over, Cuba was a poor country.

Cuba was one of the world’s richest countries before Castro destroyed it—and the wealth wasn’t just in the hands of a tiny elite. “Contrary to the myth spread by the revolution,” wrote Alfred Cuzan, a professor of political science at the University of West Florida, “Cuba’s wealth before 1959 was not the purview of a privileged few. . . . Cuban society was as much of a middle-class society as Argentina and Chile.” In 1958, Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe. “More Americans lived in Cuba prior to Castro than Cubans lived in the United States,” Cuban exile Humberto Fontova, author of a series of books about Castro and Guevara, tells me. “This was at a time when Cubans were perfectly free to leave the country with all their property. In the 1940s and 1950s, my parents could get a visa for the United States just by asking. They visited the United States and voluntarily returned to Cuba. More Cubans vacationed in the U.S. in 1955 than Americans vacationed in Cuba. Americans considered Cuba a tourist playground, but even more Cubans considered the U.S. a tourist playground.” Havana was home to a lot of that prosperity, as is evident in the extraordinary classical European architecture that still fills the city. Poor nations do not—cannot—build such grand or elegant cities.

So Cuba was not a Third World country, but Castro turned it into one, except worse, because Cubans are not just poor, but have far less freedom than the rest of the Third World.

Some of the details Totten reports about Cuba’s almost non-existent economy almost beggar belief, including:

  • Instead of a minimum wage, Cuba has a maximum wage and it equals…wait for it…$20 per month. Except for professionals like doctors and lawyers, who can get a whole $30 per month.
  • Foreign contractors who run some of the tourist hotels actually pay their Cuban employees $8-10 per hour. But the Cuban government takes away everything over and above $20 per month.
  • Waiting in line for up to two hours to get on a city commuter bus. A bus trip to the other side of the island costs almost a year’s salary.
  • Cops getting on buses to do random searches of people’s bags to make sure they’re not engaging in black market activity by transporting a lobster or some shrimp.
  • People resorting to the black market just to get basics like cooking oil or soap.
  • A meal in a nice restaurant costs a month’s salary; a one-night stay in a hotel–which I don’t believe Cubans are allowed to do anyway–would cost five months’ salary.
  • At the classic bar in Havana where, prior to the Castro Era, Ernest Hemingway hung out for years, a bottle of beer costs a week’s salary.

For years, whenever somebody would mention Cuba’s failed economy, liberals, again echoing communist propaganda, would blame the U.S. embargo. Even though it’s not clear the embargo had much effect because many countries, including Canada, would actively undermine the embargo by importing goods from Cuba and then re-exporting to the U.S.

But in any event, rather than destroying the Cuban economy, the U.S. is largely propping it up due to the millions of dollars in remittances sent by Cuban exiles to their relatives in Cuba. And of course, the regime skims off a lot of the remitted money. In this regard, the regime acts essentially as kidnappers, holding the relatives captive in exchange for ransom.

And now finally, the monstrous tyrant Fidel has died in his bed at age 90, which is an injustice, because he was never put on trial and held accountable for his crimes. But at least we can celebrate that he is finally dead.

Unless you’re the nitwit who people bizarrely claim is the Prime Minister of Canada.

nitwitMemo to Canada:

Please get your shit together.


It’s Always About the Nutella

Migrant refugees fleeing the war-torn countries of Morocco and Algeria apparently started a huge fire in Dusseldorf after authorities failed to supply them with Nutella.


nutella-jarWe wonder how much the decision not to provide ‘refugees’ with Nutella was influenced by political correctness. Leftists happen to be boycotting Nutella because they believe it is destroying the planet.

Denying migrants Nutella seems to be just the latest example of leftists putting their environmentalist ideology ahead of basic human rights.

Something to be Thankful For

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day on which Americans reflect on their blessings and all that they have to be thankful for. And Americans do have a lot to be thankful for. In particular, Americans can give thanks that they don’t live in socialist Venezuela. The New York Times reports that desperate Venezuelans are now trying to flee their socialist paradise in leaky boats.

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao — The dark outlines of land had just come into view when the smuggler forced everyone into the sea.

Roymar Bello screamed. She was one of 17 passengers who had climbed onto the overloaded fishing boat with aging motors in July, hoping to escape Venezuela’s economic disaster for a new life on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

Afraid of the authorities, the smuggler refused to land. Ms. Bello said he gruffly ordered her and the others into the water, pointing toward the distant shore. In the panic, she was tossed overboard, tumbling into the predawn blackness.

But Ms. Bello could not swim.

As she began to sink under the waves, a fellow migrant grabbed her by the hair and towed her toward the island. They washed up on a rocky cliff battered by waves. Bruised and bleeding, they climbed, praying for a lifeline: jobs, money, something to eat.

“It was worth the risk,” said Ms. Bello, 30, adding that Venezuelans like her, “are going after one thing — food.”

So now we can add Venezuelans to Cubans and Vietnamese on the list of ‘boat people’ created by socialism.


Help me out here. As Venezuela’s socialist revolution was being implemented in the first decade of this century, did so-smart liberals warn that it could lead to disaster? I seem to recall something more like the opposite.


Sean Penn could not be reached for comment.


Champions of the people.


Thanksgiving Pilgrims Rejected Socialism in favor of Private Enterprise

Here is our annual Thanksgiving day post.

With the Thanksgiving holiday now upon us, millions of children will hear the story of the First Thanksgiving of 1621. The standard story as told in schools and the media depicts the First Thanksgiving as a celebration of the Pilgrims’ successful harvest and cooperation with the Indians. What the schools do not teach, however, is that a fuller account of the Pilgrims’ story reveals a failure of socialism and a triumph of private property and free enterprise.

1024px-Thanksgiving-BrownscombeThe Plymouth Colony started as a type of commune, or socialist community.

The members of the Plymouth colony had arrived in the New World with a plan for collective property ownership. Reflecting the current opinion of the aristocratic class in the 1620s, their charter called for farmland to be worked communally and for the harvests to be shared.

Interestingly, the colonists’ communist ideology was derived not from Karl Marx, who had not yet been born, but from Plato.

The charter of the Plymouth Colony reflected the most up-to-date economic, philosophical and religious thinking of the early 17th century. Plato was in vogue then, and Plato believed in central planning by intellectuals in the context of communal property, centralized state education, state centralized cultural offerings and communal family structure…This collectivist impulse reflected itself in various heretical offshoots of Protestant Christianity with names like The True Levelers, and the Diggers, mass movements of people who believed that property and income distinctions should be eliminated, that the wealthy should have their property expropriated and given to what we now call the 99%.

The experiment in collectivism failed.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

As Governor Bradford explained in his old English (though with the spelling modernized):

“For the young men that were able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignant and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc. they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could man husbands brook it.”

To their credit, the colonists finally realized their error and changed course. In their third year at Plymouth, the colonists re-introduced private property, and allowed families to keep or trade whatever surplus they produced. As a result, conditions for the colonists improved significantly. As Governor Bradford recorded in his diary

By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their planting was well seen, for all had, one way or other, pretty well to bring the year about, and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.

And Governor Bradford seems to have interpreted the experience of the colony as an empirical rejection of Platonic communism.

The experience that was had in this common course [common property] and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst the Godly and sober men, may well convince of the vanity and conceit of Plato’s and other ancients; — that the taking away of property, and bringing into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.

So there you have it; the lesson of the First Thanksgiving is a triumph of freedom arising out of a failed attempt at socialism. The story must be quite damaging to progressivism, because during the Thanksgiving season several years ago, a progressive propaganda sheet known as The New York Times attempted to refute it. The progressive counterargument is based on two main points. First, common property in the Plymouth Colony did not result in famine and the system was not a failure.

The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving.

Fair enough, but we also have Bradford’s own testimony, quoted above, that Platonic socialism had proved unworkable. Furthermore, if the socialist system had succeeded as progressives allege, how do they explain why the colonists abandoned it?

Bradford did get rid of the common course — but it was in 1623, after the first Thanksgiving, and not because the system wasn’t working. The Pilgrims just didn’t like it. In the accounts of colonists, Mr. Pickering said, “there was griping and groaning.”

“Bachelors didn’t want to feed the wives of married men, and women don’t want to do the laundry of the bachelors,” he said.

In other words, the system was working except that it was making people miserable, so they got rid of it. That sounds to us like a social system that has failed. And it failed for the very reason we would expect, namely, a Tragedy of the Commons that undermined incentives (“Bachelors didn’t want to feed the wives of married men…”).

Progressives’ second counterargument is that the Plymouth Colony, as a for-profit corporation, cannot fairly be deemed socialist.

Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common — William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the “common course.” But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.

“It was directed ultimately to private profit,” said Richard Pickering, a historian of early America…

Well, words have meaning, and a society that replaces private property with collective ownership of the means of production meets the textbook definition of socialism. If that’s not socialism, then the word has no meaning. This remains true even if the colony as a whole sought to make a profit by trading with the rest of the world. The Pilgrims may have been capitalists when it came to exporting furs, but the essential fact is that production for domestic consumption was organized as socialism.

This second argument of the progressives also underscores the weakness of their first argument, that “common course” had not failed. Because we can be sure that if common course had been a ringing success, progressive journalists wouldn’t be working to disassociate it from socialism. They’d be hailing it as a triumph of socialism.

In summary, the story of the First Thanksgiving illuminates two crucial and eternal truths. First, collectivism always fails. Second, progressives, to defend their socialist beliefs, will deploy the most appalling sophistry, specious reasoning, and intellectual dishonesty.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!