An Unconventional Thanksgiving Wish

I’d like to give the proverbial tip of the hat and extend personal thanks to America’s natural gas and electricity-generating industries.
An Unconventional Thanksgiving Wish
A Pacific Gas & Electric lineman works to repair a power line in fire-ravaged Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 26, 2018. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)
Mark Hendrickson

I love the Thanksgiving holiday. There's something about pausing to acknowledge and appreciate all the good one has experienced in life that's rewarding and refreshing.

At Thanksgiving time, I give thanks in my heart for the priceless blessings of a merciful God, a loving family, the rich treasures of friendship, and for the privilege of being an American. I'm grateful for the freedoms that we Americans have, and for the amazing prosperity that the American economy generates. Indeed, the prosperity of the American economy has lifted countless people out of poverty throughout our country’s history—so much so that people from around the world still migrate here to pursue the American Dream.

This year I’d like to do something a bit different by narrowing my focus. I’d like to give the proverbial tip of the hat and extend personal thanks to America’s natural gas and electricity-generating industries. They are under siege—undeservedly so—and are sadly under-appreciated.

Charts and graphs of standards of living over the course of human history show that poverty for the masses was the norm for century after century, millennium after millennium. And then, barely more than two centuries ago, when the Age of Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution dawned on the human scene, standards of living turned upward. Economic growth accelerated along with growth in the human population, the result being more people living more comfortable lives than ever before. Make that a lot more people living much more comfortable lives. Truly, the growth has been spectacular compared to historical norms.
What triggered all this growth? The unprecedented degree of individual liberty in the United States certainly was instrumental. And so was the explosion of scientific and technological breakthroughs. But if there was one development that was absolutely crucial in elevating standards of living, it has been the availability of reliable, affordable energy. The correlation between a society’s energy consumption and GDP growth is undeniable. Energy powers economic growth, amplifying it far beyond what unassisted human energy can produce.

While grateful for the immense economic progress attributable to the abundant availability of energy/electricity, we all have a lot to be grateful for at the micro level, too. I am grateful for many decades of incredible convenience and knowing that power was virtually always there. We tend to take for granted such commonplace things as being able to turn on lights at the flip of a switch, heat and cool our residences to our preferred temperature, and run a multitude of home appliances and electronic devices. On the rare occasions when the supply of power is interrupted, we realize very quickly just how much power has enriched our lives—and frankly, how dependent we are on it.

Given that energy and power have been so good for us, it amazes me that the companies that supply fuel and electricity don’t receive the respect they deserve. Instead, some Americans scorn and despise them. For example, when I moved to a new state a few years ago, the first issue of a local newspaper I read had letters to the editor denouncing the local gas utility for wanting to build a pipeline. The tone of the letter was condemnatory. How dare they build a pipeline through ”our county”!

But what's so objectionable about building the infrastructure necessary to get energy to the people who need it? I imagine that the people who complain about the prospect of more of their fellow citizens having access to power would be quite indignant and angry if their own supply of power were to be cut off.

Are the anti-pipeline people worried about marring the landscape? Look, I’ll be the first to admit that a pipeline isn't particularly pleasing in an aesthetic sense. But how often do you actually see a pipeline? It’s not like they're on every street. And to put it in perspective, pipelines mar one’s view on a far smaller scale than those ugly wind turbines that degrade nature’s beauty over far larger areas (not to mention that pipelines don’t kill whales and huge numbers of birds and bats like wind turbines do).

It's rather pathetic when people fail to recognize and appreciate their benefactors, and even more perverse when they scorn and scold them. Yet, that's the sad situation today: Many individuals are complaining and even hostile toward those who supply us with the power we rely upon. On Thanksgiving Day 2023, I'm sure I speak for millions of my fellow Americans as I give a hearty and sincere shout-out of thanks to all the men and women who work to keep our lights on and our homes cozy and comfortable for our holiday celebrations and throughout the year. You folks are great! Thank you! And don’t let the ingrates get you down.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Mark Hendrickson is an economist who retired from the faculty of Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he remains fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He is the author of several books on topics as varied as American economic history, anonymous characters in the Bible, the wealth inequality issue, and climate change, among others.