The Ungrateful Nation

Here are a few facts about America.

The unemployment rate among those with a high school education is 3.9 percent. The poorest quintile of Americans have seen their post-tax incomes increase 80 percent since 1979, according to Congressional Budget Office data, and post-tax and transfer income for that quintile has skyrocketed 32 percent since 2000. The upper-middle class in America constituted 13 percent of the population in 1979; as of 2014, it constituted 30 percent. According to Pew Research from 2015, when it comes to standard of living, “The U.S. stands head and shoulders above the rest of the world. More than half (56 percent) of Americans were high income by the global standard … and 2 percent were poor.”

Fantastic products are cheaper than ever. Human Progress investigated the amount of time Americans must spend to earn enough money to buy key products and found that since 1979, the amount of time spent to earn a refrigerator had dropped 52 percent, 95 percent for microwaves, 65 percent for gas ranges and 61 percent for dishwashers. Between the mid-1960s and 2007, Americans were able to work less and leisure more: They worked nearly eight hours fewer per week, according to The Heritage Foundation. The wage gap is almost entirely a myth: Women who work the same jobs as men for the same number of hours, and have the same work history and same education as men make the same as men. The chief obstacles to income mobility in the United States are related to personal decision-making, not racial discrimination: As the Brookings Institution points out, of the people who finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children, nearly 75 percent join the middle class, and just 2 percent remain in poverty.

What of freedom? In America, people of all religions practice freely, so long as the government isn’t attempting to cram social justice down on them. People are free to speak, so long as government actors aren’t utilizing the heckler’s veto. We are free to use the press, free to associate and free to protest.

All of this is the result of the greatest governmental philosophy ever committed to paper: God-given individual rights protected by limited government. We haven’t always lived up to that philosophy — in some areas, we’ve progressed mightily, and in others, we’ve regressed. But the overall success of the United States should be ringing proof that at the very least, we should be grateful and proud to live here.

Yet as of July 2018, fewer than half of Americans surveyed by Gallup said they are extremely proud to be American. Just 32 percent of Democrats, down from 56 percent in 2013, said they are extremely proud to be American; only 42 percent of independents said are were extremely proud to be American. That’s ridiculous. Regardless of political affiliation, we should be proud to live in a society founded on eternal truths, in which we have the ability to thrive based on our own choices.

In 1789, as America struggled to find her footing after a revolution against the most powerful military and economic engine in the world, then-President George Washington issued a proclamation. He thanked God for “his kind care and protection of the People of this Country,” for “the great degree of tranquility, 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.”

If Washington could urge gratefulness in 1789, we’d be fools not to do so now, when our lives are so much better in every material way. This Thanksgiving, let’s remember what we have — and let’s remember the eternal ideas that provide the groundwork for our prosperity.

Ben Shapiro, 34, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is The New York Times best-selling author of “Bullies.” He lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles. To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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