The Morality of Prosperity
Thanksgiving Edition...
This column will run in this Wednesday's Santa Barbara Newspress...
As many of the readers of my columns know, every year I try to write something about the miracle of the free-market and the invisible hand of strangers. I am a believer in and fascinated by the morality of autonomy and the ethics of spontaneous order.

In other words, I’m a champion of America’s free-enterprise system and how it's unique in its power to allow us to enjoy the morality of prosperity.

In America, no turkey czars are necessary for our nation’s marketplace to do what it does impeccably well, and that is, in two words, deliver value. And perhaps no other holiday showcases the magic and brilliance of America's capitalistic free-market system than Thanksgiving.
This week millions of hard-working Americans seamlessly and independently integrated their decisions with the beauty, complexity, and elegant precision of a symphony.

The much-anticipated performance is, of course, Thursday, as Thanksgiving Dinner plays out in millions of small family theaters from sea to shining sea. From the Great Lakes to the High Desert of California.

Without a visible conductor to speed up or slow down the tempo of our nation's industrial swagger, this in no way undermines or compromises the splendor of the melodic sounds of commerce emanating across America's landscape.

Thanks to precision agriculture, reliable energy, diversified transportation, and on-time retail, four movements each play a perfectly tuned transactional composition. That is certain to achieve a collective, consumer-driven performance, that is, in a word, staccato.

Out of the hundreds of possibilities and choices, millions of American families get to enjoy a customized menu of culinary ingredients together comprising a feast as boisterous and unique as the personalities sitting at the beautifully appointed dinner tables.

Thanksgiving showcases a seemingly effortless cornucopia of culinary comforts and aromas, manifesting in a display of entrees and side dishes as far as the eyes can see. It is here, in the heart of our national family’s hearth, that memories are born, and where love and laughter can live forever.

Indeed, Thanksgiving is when America’s democratic capitalist system is at its very best. At its most moral, ethical, and exceptional. However, none of this would matter if the only beneficiaries were wealthy families in America.

But that certainly isn’t the case. Consider the evidence.

According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau, the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for ten is $48.91, or less than $5.00 per person. The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables is, of course, the turkey.

The Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving survey shows the cost of a 16-pound turkey at $20.80. That’s roughly $1.30 per pound, down 4% from last year. Retail turkey prices in the United States are the lowest since 2010. 

So it is my hope and prayer that tomorrow, and every day, you are both thankful for the enduring benefits of America's independence, and in her promise of the right for each of us to achieve prosperity if we work hard enough to earn it.

America's marketplace, our constitutional guarantees of the right to pursue happiness, and the invisible hand of strangers, all converge to deliver unparalleled opportunities to America’s families. It is what sets our nation apart from all others.

And for that, I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!
Joe Armendariz is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association.