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This Thanksgiving, celebrate the producers

Posted by Richard on November 22, 2007

"The first Thanksgiving" by Jean Louis Gerome FerrisUPDATE (Thanksgiving, 2008): Thanks for stopping by. After you read this post and The real Thanksgiving story, don’t miss this year’s funny/sad Thanksgiving story! It’s about kindergarten kids celebrating Thanksgiving. And it features cops and accusations of genocide.

UPDATE (Thanksgiving, 2009): This year, with lots of help from Jim Woods, I again thanked the producers. And remembered the anniversary of the Jihadist attacks on Mumbai. Please check it out.   

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful day with family, friends, food, and football. But before you leave your PC for the festivities, please read Debi Ghate’s wonderful explanation of what you should be thankful for and who you should thank (bold added, italics in original):

What should we really be celebrating on Thanksgiving?

Ayn Rand described Thanksgiving as “a typically American holiday … its essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers’ holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.”

She was right. This country was mostly uninhabited and wild when our forefathers began to develop the land and build spectacular cities, shaping what is now the wealthiest nation in the world.

It’s the American spirit to overcome challenges, create great achievements, and enjoy prosperity. We uniquely recognize that production leads to wealth and that we must dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

It’s no accident that Americans have a holiday called Thanksgiving — a yearly tradition when we pause to appreciate the “bountiful harvest” we’ve reaped.

What is today’s version of the “bountiful harvest”? It’s the affluence and success we’ve gained. It’s the cars, houses and vacations we enjoy.

It’s the life-saving medicines we rely on, the stock portfolios we build, the beautiful clothes we buy and the safe, clean streets we live on. It’s the good life.

How did we get this “bountiful harvest”? Ask any hard-working American; it sure wasn’t by the “grace of God.” It didn’t grow on a fabled “money tree.”

We created it by working hard, by desiring the best money can buy and by wanting excellence for ourselves and our loved ones. What we don’t create ourselves, we trade value for value with those who have the goods and services we need, such as our stockbrokers, hairdressers and doctors.

We alone are responsible for our wealth. We are the producers and Thanksgiving is our holiday.

So, on Thanksgiving, why don’t we thank ourselves and those producers who make the good life possible?

From a young age, we are bombarded with messages designed to undermine our confident pursuit of values: “Be humble,” “You can’t know what’s good for yourself,” “It’s better to give than receive,” and above all “Don’t be selfish!”

We are scolded not to take more than “our share” — whether it is of corporate profits, electricity or pie. We are taught that altruism — selfless concern for others — is the moral ideal. We are taught to sacrifice for strangers, who have no claim to our hard-earned wealth. We are taught to kneel rather than reach for the sky.

But, morally, one should reach for the sky. One should recognize that the corporate profits, electricity or pie was earned through one’s production — and savor its consumption.

Every decision one makes, from what career to pursue to whom to call a friend, should be guided by what will best advance one’s rational goals, interests and, ultimately, one’s life. One should take pride in being rationally selfish — one’s life and happiness depend on it.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to recognize what we are truly grateful for, to appreciate and celebrate the fruits of our labor: our wealth, health, relationships and material things — all the values we most selfishly cherish.

We should thank researchers who have made certain cancers beatable, gourmet chefs at our favorite restaurants, authors whose books made us rethink our lives, financiers who developed revolutionary investment strategies and entrepreneurs who created fabulous online stores.

We should thank ourselves and those individuals who make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable — those who help us live the much-coveted American dream.

As you sit down to your sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner served on your best china, think of all the talented individuals whose innovation and inventiveness made possible the products you are enjoying. Debi Ghate

As you look around at who you’ve chosen to spend your day with — those you’ve chosen to love — thank yourself for everything you have done to make this moment possible.

It’s a time to selfishly and proudly say: “I earned this.”

Debi Ghate is Vice-President of Academic Programs at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California.

Amen.

As for the Thanksgiving lesson to be learned from the history of the Plymouth colony, it’s an economics lesson. I provided a pretty good account (if I do say so myself) last year, with plenty of quotes from Governor William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation. John Stossel wrote a shorter summary of the same lesson this year, which I encourage you to read, too. Even though mine’s better. 🙂

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. And remember to thank the producers who made it possible — including yourself!

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3 Responses to “This Thanksgiving, celebrate the producers”

  1. rgcombs said

    ”Posted on behalf of T.F. Stern, whose comment ran afoul of Blog-City’s rather zealous spam filtering:”

    “We alone are responsible for our wealth. We are the producers and Thanksgiving is our holiday.”

    Having read the words of William Bradford I find it sad that you would omit the Hand of God, instead claiming that we alone did it, the “arm of flesh” mentality has no room for gratitude which is the true meaning of Thanksgiving. How sad…

  2. rgcombs said

    T.F., you believe that humans were “endowed by their Creator” with inalienable rights, moral agency, reason, and free will, right? Then you may wish to thank God for those gifts, but don’t dismiss Debi Ghate’s point. Something — God, or Nature, or alien visitors — gave us the ”ability” to achieve and produce, but we have to choose to exercise it.

    It’s ”our choices” — and the choices of all the productive, hard-working people before us — that made this the richest (and freest) country ever to exist. Thank God for your free will if you wish, but be proud of yourself for ”using” that free will to produce and create value in order to better yourself and your family.

    You could have whined about your needs and begged — or demanded — that your neighbors or God take care of you. But you didn’t. Ever since Bradford realized how harmful to the Pilgrims’ moral character their communal system was, most Americans have shunned helplessness and dependency, and have instead embraced the idea that their success and achievement is in their hands, and that their reward is in relation to their productiveness.

    No room for gratitude? I’m extremely grateful: for the freedom and opportunity that I have to be productive and enjoy the fruits of my labor; to the many productive and creative countrymen and women that make this such a great time and place to be alive; to all those who came before us who worked to create the wealth and freedom we inherited, and who fought to preserve it; and to the great minds from the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the American Revolution who articulated the concepts of freedom, reason, progress, and modernity that created the wonderful world we live in today.

    I’m grateful — and proud.

  3. […] This Thanksgiving, celebrate the producers — Features Debi Ghates’ wonderful explanation of what you should be thankful for and who you […]

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