The average American> will consume 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat this Thanksgiving, according to the American Council on Exercise.
And while I don't advocate an unhealthy lifestyle, a little gluttony and overindulgence on Thanksgiving has become simply part of the celebration. It's a truly American holiday, one that celebrates not a mystical god or military victory, but abundance and success. Consider the average American will take in more calories in one meal than those in socialist wastelands like Cuba or North Korea will eat over a number of days. I happen to believe that's something we can be proud of.
Of course, many are suffering, even here at home, a reality compounded by a slowing economy and weak stock market. And without denying anybody's hardship, you've got to admit that, if you're going to be poor and suffering anywhere in the world, modern-day America is just about as good as a place and time as any.
Indeed, we've come a long way since the first Thanksgiving. While countries in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa have engaged in centuries of tribal warfare and remained mired in poverty, America's commitment to reason, individual rights and capitalism has created the most prosperous society in the history of mankind in just a few hundred years.
The American Farm Bureau's annual survey indicates that the traditional Thanksgiving feast actually costs less than it did in 1988 (adjusted for inflation). A table of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, peas, carrots, celery, coffee, milk and pumpkin pie for 10 is priced around $44.61. Indeed, in America, many of the poorest citizens are actually obese, a stark contrast to poverty in Africa or India where those on the lowest rung are literally starving in the streets.
Source: American Farm Bureau>
The prosperity enjoyed in America over the years is a direct result of a commitment to capitalism, where yesterday's luxury has quickly become today's mass-market item. We become conditioned to new technological miracles being introduced on a regular basis in this country. It wasn't too long ago that simple email seemed a tremendous achievement. Now, spending just a few hundred dollars on a smartphone gives you the ability to manipulate and send text, audio and video literally from the palm of your hand. The same sort of advancement is seen in fields ranging from health care to home improvement.
It's important to remember, though, that America's widespread prosperity wasn't born of conquest, bailouts or stimulus packages, but of political and economic liberty. In America, success has been earned, not taken or given away.
And there's a tremendous satisfaction in enjoying a material good, like a nice meal, that you've worked hard to achieve. When we succeed, either at our jobs or in our investments, we feel pride in our accomplishments. We know we didn't succeed just by luck or by exploiting other people; we succeeded because we earned it.
So this Thanksgiving, as you are hopefully enjoying a day of leisure, friends and family, go ahead and spoon that extra helping of turkey on your plate. This quintessentially American holiday pays a fitting, and filling, tribute to the American ideals of productivity, achievement and success.