23.11.02

OPPORTUNITY COSTS AND INCENTIVES. Opinion Journal reports a debate on homeland security policy in Plimoth Plantation: "That was the autumn of 1621. A few months later the tiny Pilgrim community was rent by a debate over whether to build a fort for protection against possible Indian attack.

"The pro-fort hawks, of whom Bradford was a leader, believed that 'the danger of the time required it' and made the age-old argument for peace through strength. On the other side stood the antifort doves, less concerned with defense than with the social contract. They argued that the labor required to construct the fort would be better employed in growing badly needed food. Edward Winslow, a Pilgrim Father solidly in the fort camp, wrote to London that these naysayers were 'flattering themselves with peace and security.' The devil, he said, will make 'reasonable men to reason against their own safety.'

The debate ended abruptly in the spring of 1622, when word reached Plymouth of the Indian massacre of most of the inhabitants of the English settlements in Virginia. As Bradford puts it, the news made 'all hands willing to dispatch the same.' The fort was finished in 10 months
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