Thanksgiving in America is a time of traditions - turkey and dressing, gathering around the table, watching football and seeing schoolchildren dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians, reenacting the first Thanksgiving. One of the most fascinating early American stories is the "sale" of Manhattan Island. The story goes that some Dutch colonists traded beads and other trinkets to the Indians for the land, acquiring the island for what amounted to $24 worth of goods.
With our Westernized view of property - especially knowing how expensive Manhattan is nowadays - we struggle to understand how such a transaction could have occurred. Were the Indians taken in by the beauty of the beads the colonists offered? Did they understand they were giving up their rights to what would become a valuable piece of land?
Unfortunately, it looks like history is repeating itself. But this time, it's our new Congress offering trinkets to the American people in exchange for something of far greater value - our free market.
Incoming senators and representatives from both parties have talked about sweeping changes that look pretty but will actually cheat American workers. Apparently many voters were mesmerized, because they handed over leadership to liberals who dangled a minimum wage hike and universal health care.
The media helped out, as a third party admiring the promises and encouraging voters to take the gifts. The problem is that nobody explained to the voters the value of the ground they were giving up.
The truth is, liberals in Congress aren't going to stop spending. Shiny delights like universal health care don't come cheap. Remember the tax cuts? They won't be around for long, if liberals have their way. Both the media and politicians have convinced Americans our health care system is "broken" and that taking the marketplace out of the equation is the way to fix it. But sorry, we can't afford that without taking more of your hard-earned cash.
What's particularly frightening is that the American people don't seem to grasp the vital importance of a free market system - another system we can't afford to see "broken."
When the people look to the government to take care of all their needs and wants - including health care, higher wages and even "affordable" high-speed Internet service - it appears all their worries are over. Unfortunately, it only guarantees things won't be accomplished efficiently.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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