The Thanksgiving Revolt

Sadly, Thanksgiving and healthcare more generally has been politicized (or “weaponized” as I said in a report to the UNDP with regard to the monetary system in Yemen–my advice was that nothing as important as the monetary system should be weaponized). Why are normally sensible (I am being generous on this day of giving thanks) people behaving like rebellious teenagers? Among other reasons, I think, it is in part because they are being treated like children. We can demand that our children do this or that (at least when we don’t have the time or patience to explain why they should do this or that as part of preparing them to become adults).

Mature, independent minded adults (i.e., typical Americans) bristle when told that they must stay home, or cancel Thanksgiving dinner and other social activities, even when they suspect that it is the prudent thing to do. Our government should not be dictating our behavior in a free society. There are exceptions, of course, for the protection of the rest of us. We are (or should be) free to do what we like as long as we do not infringe on the right and ability of others to do the same. For example, we don’t permit people infected with communicable diseases to wander around in public endangering the rest of us–quarantining those with active cases of Covid-19 is properly required.

We each have our own assessment of the risks of infection and our own willingness to take risks.  We should be free to make our own decisions about what to do (as long as we are not endangering others–yes you should wear a face mask if you go out).

What should the government’s role be? The government should provide the best information available on what those risks are and how best to mitigate them. Not everyone agrees on what the data says.  Where that is the case, the government (CDC basically) should be honest about the disagreement and the basis of the government’s consensus judgement. This is a constructive, helpful role and a proper way of dealing with adults. Somehow too many political types have acquired the tone of voice with which one might speak to children. And if that weren’t bad enough the government provides conflicting information. Fortunately, our stable genius is no longer listened to and his quack remedies will fade from our memories.

We need an honest and less intrusive government that advises rather than dictates. We need fellow citizens who civilly share their views with us while respecting, even if not necessarily agreeing with, ours. We have a long way to go but let’s rally and raise above the muck we are in.  Oh yes, and happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

About wcoats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My most recent book is One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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