Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving Day Dinner Costs in 2019

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Dear World … and ME-P Readers,

A PRE-Thanksgiving Day Tribute for 2019

The Rational Optimist

Matt Ridley, a journalist referring to himself as the rational optimist, recently focused on all the reasons we are luckier than those who lived before us.

Here are some of the highlights of his research (click here to see his article in its entirety):

  • The average person on the planet earns roughly three times as much as he or she did 50 years ago, adjusted for inflation. If anything, this understates the improvement in living standards because it fails to take into account many of the incredible improvements in the things you can buy with that money. However rich you were in 1964 you had no computer, no mobile phone, no budget airline, no Prozac, no search engine, no gluten-free food. The world economy is still growing every year at a furious lick — faster than Britain grew during the industrial revolution. 
  • As for inequality, the world as a whole is getting rapidly more equal in income, because people in poor countries are getting richer at a more rapid pace than people in rich countries. That has now been true for two decades, but it has accelerated since the great recession. The GDP per capita of Mozambique is 60 percent higher than it was in 2008; that of Italy is 6 percent lower. A country like Mozambique has been out of the headlines recently – is back in  – and now you know why: things are mostly going right/wrong there. 
  • The amount of food available per head has gone up steadily on every continent, despite a doubling of the population. Famine is now very rare. 
  • The death rate from malaria is down by nearly 30 percent since the start of the century. HIV-related deaths are falling. Measles, yellow fever, diphtheria, cholera, typhoid, typhus — they killed our ancestors in droves, but they are now rare diseases. 
  • We think we are getting ever more selfish, but it is not true. We give more of our earnings to charity than our grandparents did.  
  • Violent crimes of almost all kinds are on the decline — murder, rape, theft, domestic violence. So are capital and corporal punishment and animal cruelty. We are less prejudiced about gender, homosexuality and race. Paedophilia is no more prevalent, just hushed up less.Morgan Housel, columnist at Motley Fool, also recently wrote a column titled “50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History.” Mr. Housel notes that we tend to ignore progress, which is the really important news because it happens slowly, but we obsess over trivial news because it happens all day long.

Here are some of my favorite thoughts from the article (click here to view the entire piece).


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The Motley Fool

  • In 1900, 1% of American women giving birth died in labor. Today, the five-year mortality rate for localized breast cancer is 1.2%. Being pregnant 100 years ago was almost as dangerous as having breast cancer is today.
  • U.S. life expectancy at birth was 39 years in 1800, 49 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and 79 years today. The average newborn today can expect to live an entire generation longer than his great-grandparents could. The average American now retires at age 62. Enjoy your golden years — your ancestors didn’t get any of them. 
  • Infant mortality in America has dropped from 58 per 1,000 births in 1933 to less than six per 1,000 births in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. In 1952, 38,000 people contracted polio in America alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2012, there were fewer than 300 reported cases of polio in the entire world. The death rate from strokes has declined by 75% since the 1960s, according to the National Institutes of Health. Death from heart attacks has plunged too.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, the number of lifetime years spent in leisure — retirement plus time off during your working years — rose from 11 years in 1870 to 35 years by 1990. Given the rise in life expectancy, it’s probably close to 40 years today. Which is amazing: The average American spends nearly half his life in leisure. If you had told this to the average American 100 years ago, that person would have considered you wealthy beyond imagination.
  • Worldwide deaths from battle have plunged from 300 per 100,000 people during World War II, to the low teens during the 1970s, to less than 10 in the 1980s, to fewer than one in the 21st century, according to Harvard professor Steven Pinker. “War really is going out of style,” he says. 
  • According to the Census Bureau, only one in 10 American homes had air conditioning in 1960. That rose to 49% in 1973, and 89% today — the 11% that don’t are mostly in cold climates. Simple improvements like this have changed our lives in immeasurable ways. 
  • In 1900, African Americans had an illiteracy rate of nearly 45%, according to the Census Bureau. Today, it’s statistically close to zero. In 1940, less than 5% of the adult population held a bachelor’s degree or higher. By 2012, more than 30% did, according to the Census Bureau. 
  • The average American work week has declined from 66 hours in 1850, to 51 hours in 1909, to 34.8 hours today, according to the Federal Reserve. Enjoy your weekend. 
  • More than 40% of adults smoked in 1965, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By 2011, 19% did.
  •  The percentage of Americans age 65 and older who live in poverty has dropped from nearly 30% in 1966 to less than 10% by 2010. For the elderly, the war on poverty has pretty much been won. 
  • If you think Americans aren’t prepared for retirement today, you should have seen what it was like a century ago. In 1900, 65% of men over age 65 were still in the labor force. By 2010, that figure was down to 22%. The entire concept of retirement is unique to the past few decades. Half a century ago, most Americans worked until they died. 
  • No one has died from a new nuclear weapon attack since 1945. If you went back to 1950 and asked the world’s smartest political scientists, they would have told you the odds of seeing that happen would be close to 0%. You don’t have to be very imaginative to think that the most important news story of the past 70 years is what didn’t happen. Congratulations, world.
  • You need an annual income of $34,000 a year to be in the richest 1% of the world, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic’s 2010 book “The Haves and the Have-Nots.” To be in the top half of the globe you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000. America’s poorest are some of the world’s richest.
  • Only 4% of humans get to live in America. Odds are you’re one of them. We’ve got it made. Be thankful.


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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:



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5 Responses

  1. A Thanksgiving Story of Gratitude

    You may know me as someone who helps people promote healthy bodies, healthy medical practices or healthy businesses.

    My ideas about what it means to be healthy have changed over my 30 year medical career. As a practicing surgeon, I believed that health was about being perfect. I have come to believe that health is about being perfectly you. Health is not as much about what you have as it is about how you respond to your life circumstances.

    Vicki Rackner MD


  2. Happy Thanksgiving Day 2014

    ME-P Readers – I have gratefully reached the age where I have relaxed fit skin to match the clothes I wear. And, I continue to work, despite all the frustrations I share with my partners, as well as the rest of you out there. I work not to maintain my standard of living, but because I love what I do.

    Why? I was fortunate to discover a long time ago the wisdom in Winston Churchill’s statement: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

    But, I also enjoy the respite this day affords, and pray you do too!

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA


  3. Giving thanks 2015

    This Thanksgiving, remember the importance of gratitude in medicine.

    As we enter into the Thanksgiving season, the question of what we are thankful for is frequently asked . Perhaps it is a good reminder for us to take a step back and express gratitude for events that or people who have made a true impact on our lives.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA


  4. A Purposeful Exercise to Boost Well-being

    “Close your eyes, call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face.” Got a face?

    Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. Unfortunately, sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise … you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.

    Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words. Be specific about what this person did for you and how it affected your life. Let them know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what they did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell them you’d like to visit, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet, take your time reading your letter.”

    This is not an exercise I came up with. This is an exercise created by Dr. Martin Seligman, the founding father of an entirely new psychological field – Positive Psychology, the author of three influential books: “Authentic Happiness,” “Learned Optimism,” and “Flourish.”

    No one has treated the eternal question of happiness with more empirical rigor than Dr. Martin Seligman. This exercise is based on decades of his acclaimed research and brings to bear modern psychology’s most important findings.

    Why, as a wealth advisor, I would bring up this exercise to your attention? Well, for one, this is a season of thanksgiving, Christmas and Chanukah (Hanukkah). So, what better time than now to start a discussion about purposeful thanksgiving? Secondly, if you think about it, what’s the true measure of wealth? It’s really not money, but happiness.

    I personally have already drawn up a short list of people I want to thank in the way Dr. Seligman prescribes. Some of them live close to me, some of them a few states away, some of them on the other side of the globe. All have a positive impact on me at some point of my life, and I wouldn’t be who I am now without them. For me, this exercise is not just about thanking them, but also about reconnecting with my own life.

    Michael Zhuang
    [Principal of MZ Capital Management]
    Contributor to Morningstar and Physicians Practice


  5. 2017

    Very true; thanks.



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