sábado, 27 de noviembre de 2010

El capitalismo salvó a América

El primer sistema económico que se ensayó en América fue el comunismo. En las primeras colonias de peregrinos, en Jamestown y Plymouth, regía el sistema de propiedad comunal de la tierra. El resultado fue catastrófico e inmediato: en seis meses, el 90% de la población de Jasmestown murió de hambre; en Plymouth, el 50%. No fueron pocos los colonos que vendieron sus escasas pertenencias y se convirtieron en siervos de los indios. 

Pronto aprendieron la lección, sin embargo. Se permitió la propiedad privada de la tierra, y las colonias empezaron a prosperar. Ambas colonias se convirtieron en exportadoras de trigo y fueron el ejemplo a seguir para el resto de una nación, aún por nacer, que tuvo a partir de entonces al capitalismo por simiente: 

Reflections restricted to our current bounty ignore that most colonists in both Jamestown and Plymouth starved under their initial communal-property rights. Then, when private-property rights were established, starvation gave way to increasing prosperity in both colonies.
In Jamestown, colonists were indentured servants whose first seven years' output was to go into a common pool. In Plymouth, all accumulated wealth was to be held in common, against colonists' objections, by sponsors worried they could not otherwise collect on their distant investment. In both places, the fruits of people's efforts went to others, with disastrous results.
Sixty-six of Jamestown's initial 104 colonists died within six months, most from famine. Only 60 out of 500 arrivals two years later survived that long. The consequences of this "starving time" included cannibalism. Plymouth's first colonists fared little better, with only about half surviving six months. Some, in desperation, sold their clothes and blankets to, or became servants of, Indians.
Common property's disincentives produced terrible results in both colonies. Shirking was so severe at Jamestown that Thomas Dale noted that much of the survivors' time was devoted to playing rather than working, despite the threat of starvation. Plymouth Governor William Bradford noted that "this community of property was found to breed much … discontentment and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort," even despite the use of whipping to limit shirking, with results described as "injustice" and "a kind of slavery."
In response, both Jamestown and Plymouth moved to systems where people could produce for their own benefit.
In Jamestown, each man was given three acres of land, in exchange for a lump-sum tax of two and a half barrels of corn, and communal work was limited to one month (not during planting or harvest). In addition to creating private property, this made the marginal tax rate on most of colonists' efforts zero, turning indolence into industry. Rather than starving, they became exporters of corn to the Indians.
In Plymouth, Governor Bradford observed that since
their victuals were spent … they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop … that they might not still thus languish in misery … the Governor gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular … And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.


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