Happy Turkey Day!

I hope US readers had safe travels and are enjoying the day with friends and family.

Thanksgiving has become a day of food and sports bacchanalia for many Americans. It is too often forgotten that only half of the passengers of the Mayflower lived through the first winter in Plymouth harbor. Ironically, it is probably closest to its historical roots, a day of gratitude for surviving brutal conditions, for those who are enduring physical or financial hardships but manage to get some respite and personal cheer today.

Yet our success-oriented culture too often turns away from those in the midst of personal struggles; it’s the shadow side of the insistent American “can do” attitude. After all, too many business success courses and New Age self help books proclaim that if you only think the right thoughts and project an upbeat attitude, you can “manifest” your heart’s desires. This bizarre magical thinking is a cultural neurosis writ large, and it further marginalizes those who need help but are afraid to ask for it.

I’m obviously lucky. On my father’s side of the family, I come from old and completely undistinguished Yankee stock (generations of fishermen and farmers). One of his retirement projects, a meticulously researched genealogy, ascertained that we have at least 7 ancestors who came over on the Mayflower (we could claim 11 if you believe the Mormon genealogy for one branch of the family, but he was convinced that that it was actually descended from a half-black freed slave who married a white woman and was the first settler of Bailey Island, Maine).

I was able to get a very good education and work at top firms. Even so, I’ve suffered serious career and financial reversals and have some appreciation for what it feels like to have survival worries. So I hope those of you that are in a position to do so take some steps over the holiday season to reach out in some way to the less fortunate (and that doesn’t necessarily mean writing a check to a charity; it may, for instance, be giving someone out of work a job lead or short-term gig to burnish his resume).

Oh, and for the record, we’re having duck here in Alabama.

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  1. Jane

    Hi Yves – have a wonderful time with friends and family. Mmmm – duck…sounds wonderful.

    I think I can safely say that the NC community gives thanks that we have this unique forum for the important matters at hand, and are able to exchange ideas and comment without fear of censorship.

    Thanks for all you do – your dedication is tireless.

    I see you were at Max Garfield’s bootcamp in NY, along with many other notables in the anti-foreclosure fraud community. Martin Andelman wrote about it on his blog. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on that gathering.

    Margery Golant practices in my hometown, so I am going to talk to her about my personal mortgage nightmare. I hear she is one of the best. Good to see her on the panel.


  2. F. Beard

    Yes, Happy Thanksgiving!

    We in the US should be thankful that though we have our problems that we are most likely of all the nations to solve them peacefully (at least within our borders, sorry Muslim countries).

      1. different clue

        There comes a danger point where “American Exceptionalism” simply becomes an American version of China’s “Middle Kingdom Complex” or Orthodox Russia’s ” Third Rome Mission”. We should temper it at the very least with some National Okayness Ordinarianism.

        Yoo Ess Ayy Okay!! We’re Number Whatever!! It is okay to be a National Okayness Ordinarian. Good enough is good enough.

    1. Psychoanalystus


      And, “we solve them peacefully (at least within our borders, sorry Muslim countries)” because:

      A. The US is a brutal police state that put the fear in the hearts of all its citizens,
      B. The US projects its non-peaceful actions outside its legal borders, usually by killing innocent women and children in Muslim countries,
      C. All of the above.
      D. None of the above

      Answer: C

      1. different clue

        I remember once seeing a comedian on TV (I forget who) who said that whenever somebody from Europe or somewhere copped a superior ‘tude about American evil, he would reply:
        ” well thank YOU for sending over YOUR best and brightest to get the party started.”

    2. wunsacon

      >> We in the US should be thankful that though we have our problems that we are most likely of all the nations to solve them peacefully.

      Thanks to Maslow’s hierarchy! Just you wait and see. If the Empire collapses and the oil stops flowing from our colonies to the homeland…

      “You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other.”

      1. Pete

        Not a bad day to offer some apologies too. “Apologiesgiving”, a day for apologizing for a massive land grab and indigenous extermination. I’ll be thanking mother earth for kindly tolerating our abuse of her and begging that she give us one more chance to get it right. All the negotiations for the spoils are secondary. And special thanks for the hops and barley given by mumma nature to craft my frosty beer.

        Finally, thank you Occupy Everywhere for courageously standing up to the covetous monkeys and lifting the collective human consciousness!

        1. different clue

          The Indian Nations are not all extinct and the Indian Nations people are not all dead. If enough Americans decide they/we need to part-way correct the course of our behavior and history to date; we can decide to belatedly obey our end of some treaties which still exist with some Treaty Nations who still live here. That may well mean turning over several hundred thousand square miles of illegally occupied Indian Nations land to the Nations which still own it legally speaking. We may even have to evacuate all the illegal American settlers from the illegal settlements on Indian Treaty land and resettle them on that part of American land which we, uh . . . “conquered fair and square”. Not to say we ever will do that, but we could if an overwhelmingly commanding majority of us decide that we want to do that.

          1. K Ackermann

            Or… they can just wait us out. 250-300 years isn’t all that long in the scheme of things.

            “Slow down, Swift Runner, and let me tell you a tale of the white god-man. He came from nowhere… both malevolent and benevolent, and he brough with him a magic. He made mountains of metal and glass rise from the plains, and machines that flew in the air. ‘I do not need the earth,’ he said, ‘for I make what I want.’ They made their own gods, these things they made and worshipped. But the gods they made demanded more and more. A sickness came over them, and their chiefs no longer cared for their tribes… only of the gods they made.

            ‘Look what you are doing! We are your tribe!’ shouted little Ows, and this enraged the chiefs. ‘You are not our tribe,’ they said. ‘You smell, and live in dirt. Be quiet or we will spray your face. We need your food. You can eat each other.”

            “Did they really eat each other?”

            “No, Swift Runner. We realized we didn’t need the chiefs.”

          2. Pete

            @K Ackerman- “Slow down, Swift Runner, and let me tell you a tale…..”

            Genius. Permission to plagiarize and put to good use please.

            I heard on the news this morning that “competitive shoppers” in L.A. are now pepper spraying each other over getting their mitts on the latest video games. The sickness runs deep my friends.

  3. mansoor h. khan


    A nice post Yves. Many people ask me if I celebrate thanksgiving. I do. My wife purchased a kosher turkey for the occasion yesterday. May god bless us all.


  4. larry

    I hope you and your mother have a great Thanksgiving.

    Ed Wilson, the world’s expert on the social insects, also comes from Alabama.


  5. Percy

    And a joyous Thanksgiving to you, Yves! The turkey pictured on your Links, noble and grand, hints at why Ben Franklin thought it, rather than the eagle, ought to be our national bird. Who could slay and devour such a creature without some little degree of sorrow?

  6. PL

    Happy Thanksgiving, Yves. I am thankful for the community and exchange of ideas you have created and fostered on NC.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Yves, you’ve made *humanity* cool again, and you’re redeeming the South. Enjoy your success, may it increase.

      We have so much to be thankful for.

  7. LAS

    Happy Thanksgiving, Yves and NC community alike! I am grateful for your company and thoughtfulness throughout the year.

  8. Masonboro

    Religious freedom sounds much better than corporate greed as a founding myth but the Jamestown colony (1607) was much more representative of future American values than the Plymouth colony (1620). Established for profit and brutal in it’s treatment of both Native Americans and English indentured servants Jamestown was classic globalization. At the Virginia “Thanksgiving” in 1623, 200 Indians were poisoned to death and 50 more hacked to death in retaliation for a coordinated attack on 3/22/1622 that killed 347 colonists.

    So this Thanksgiving let’s show a little love for the English who fought and died on the James river to establish the modern America (including my ancestor who arrived in November 1621 as a 17 year old servant – just in time for the fun). Native Americans can recluse themselves.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Over half of the passengers on the Mayflower were not Pilgrims. They had either been rounded up by British promoters to fill out the ship’s complement (who would be crazy enough to join a bunch of religious weirdos to go across the ocean? Those salesman must have spun an amazing tale) or were servants. I’m descended entirely from the Sinners, not the Saints (the Pilgrims).

      1. aletheia33

        yves, by giving naked capitalism to the world, you have redeemed any minor peccadilloes of your sinner ancestors completely. (like maybe they talked back to their “betters” a few too many times, i suspect.)

        srsly (as one now says), thank you for this lovely offering of some personal history today.

        though i kinda wish you had not mentioned the duck, my mouth is watering.

        thanks also to all contributors, readers, and commenters here for the great conversation you make–a merry band of saints and sinners if ever there was one. long live this great blog, all its followers, and all our freedoms and rights, which thankfully we are born with, are inalienable, and CANNOT BE TAKEN from us!

        and long live the Occupation (and especially the people’s library), unarmed and dangerous, the army of the heart.
        on this thanksgiving in the year of our advanced emergency 2011, to all the Occupiers everywhere (including any who may read this), i am most grateful to you, and for your decision to act, and i love you.

      2. David

        Speaking of sales promotions falling flat, in the late 40’s or early 50’s Canada had a PR campaign to get the British to settle there. This included films showing how great life was in Canada. One film showed nothing but corn growing in a vast field with the voice over saying that “move to Canada and all this could yours”. Problem was the cinemas were in urban areas where prospective farmers were unlikely to be found.

        Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks again to Yves for NC.

  9. scraping_by

    Blessings on you and yours and many thanks for your leadership in providing this forum. I’ll throw you in with the rest of the list for today’s grace.

  10. Tony

    I am thankful for Yves, NC, and its contributors for helping me to start to understand the world of finance and how it affects even average people like me.

  11. Jeff


    You are the best, a shining light in the world of
    too much obscure information, a strict arbiter of quality that raises the bar for discourse and a role model for
    independent thought.

    I think that we should be thankful that you are there.

  12. Siggy

    A very nice sentiment.

    I shall reflect on the exquisite beauty that is the fact of existence and why it is that so many need to muck it up for baubles and chump change.

    But then; even in Amish Land there is a soul who feels the need to clip beards with out due process, or is that due shunning. So it must be inherent to the human condition that there are those among us who will connive lie cheat and steal for mere baubles and chump change blind to the beauty that lies in the fact of their existence. While I feel sorrow for their ignorance, I do feel that we have been remiss in not bring the theives to stand and answer for their sins.

    I shall therefore be grateful for my turkey dinner and apple pie. I will watch the Packers and then pull out my Nutcracker CD and reflect on the beauty of existence. It has been a marvelous journey and I want more but then there is all this muck in the markets. Save for that this would be a very nice Thanksgiving.

  13. gs_runsthiscountry

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    And, in other news, this just in…


    Newt Gingrich has asked that you put him in jail!Ergo, those politicians that created this environment should be thrown out of Washington and put in jail.


    Note to Newt: – Can’t wait to hear you are being fitted for an XXL stripped suit…good riddance – and don’t let the proverbial beltway door hit you in the arse as you exit.

    That is all…


  14. rotter

    “Yet our success-oriented culture too often turns away from those in the midst of personal struggles; it’s the shadow side of the insistent American “can do” attitude. After all, too many business success courses and New Age self help books proclaim that if you only think the right thoughts and project an upbeat attitude, you can “manifest” your heart’s desires. This bizarre magical thinking is a cultural neurosis writ large, and it further marginalizes those who need help but are afraid to ask for it.”

    Or have no one to ask, lets face it a growing number of people wont. “Cultural Neurosis write large indeed”.. Its not even “magical” thinking its halucinational thinking. But its all about making it the fault of the vicitim. Its a “the god didnt appear to you because your heart is impure” kind of gag.

  15. Z

    “Yet our success-oriented culture too often turns away from those in the midst of personal struggles; it’s the shadow side of the insistent American “can do” attitude. After all, too many business success courses and New Age self help books proclaim that if you only think the right thoughts and project an upbeat attitude, you can “manifest” your heart’s desires. This bizarre magical thinking is a cultural neurosis writ large, and it further marginalizes those who need help but are afraid to ask for it.”

    So true.

    Your writing has been excellent today, Yves.


  16. Roger Bigod

    None of my folks went anywhere near New England before the 20th Cent, and they weren’t paying much attention with Mr. Lincoln proclaimed the holiday. But we all have hardship stories.

    The place of birth for my ancestrix Jennie Roberts appears on the records as “Atlantic Ocean”. The family were part of the last big wave of migration from the Borderlands in the late 18th Cent., when whole villages would up and move together. My guess is that her parents’ apparent bad judgment was a realistic fear of being separated from the group which outweighed the prospect of a delivery at sea. It was probably a day of thanksgiving for everyone on that ship.

  17. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Yves, wanna work off that Thanksgiving Feast? Dance! Your partner is the striking sound of the Dahlberg Mashup:

    “South Park vs. Cafe del Mar – And It’s Gone (Johannes Dahlberg Financial Crisis Mash)” on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TIPoOyCSa4 — (may need correction: the letter/digit between T & P is just a straight line in the YouTube rendition).

    Have fun!

  18. Justicia

    Happy Thanksgiving to Yves and the NC community.

    Back in NYC, where we had a beautiful sunny day following several dreary days of rain. Went down to Liberty Park where Occupy Wall Street is serving free dinners to everyone and brought some canned food and warm clothes. It was a wonderful community of the 99% sharing and caring for each other.

    1. F. Beard

      Surely that law was not meant for rich white Europeans?

      How ironic! Now let Alabama suffer for its bigotry or repent.

    2. F. Beard

      “I was really embarrassed and overwhelmed,” says state Senator Gerald Dial. “Mercedes has done more to change the image of Alabama than just about anything else. We don’t want to upset those people.”

      Because they are rich?

      I am ashamed to live here.

  19. EmilianoZ

    Happy Thanksgiving to all NCers, this nice community of enlightened free-thinkers!

    On this special day, I went to visit the people whom I most wished to thank. I paid a visit to my local OccupyDC, bringing them a small token of my appreciation. I expected to find the camp half deserted but it was actually pretty lively. Many people were there partaking of a buffet. Moral seems to be high. I am sad to report that the dentist tent is no longer there.

  20. tz

    Unless the turkey is in need of hospice, this day there are no happy turkeys. Well maybe the runts or otherwise overlooked that you aren’t roasting and slicing.

  21. economic maverick

    “cultural neurosis writ large”

    I could’t have said it better myself. How we marginallized suppossed “losers”

    although my life is overall going well, this Thanksgiving has been quite tough for me because i’m home watching my parents age. My mother has dementia, and it’s become really painful for me to accept her condition.I can see her downward trajectory, even from my last visit about 6 weeks ago, and certainly from my wedding in July. It’s become really painful to see what she’s become considering what she was at one time. This is some of the worst pain i’ve ever experienced.I’m tearing up as I write this..I’m also finding out that our social safety net has a huge hole in it when it comes to support for Dementia/Alziehmer’s type conditions. Definately helps to be rich

    With that said, on a positive note, I have much to be thankfull for. My wife has been very supportive. I have good friends. I’m basically debt free and have been successful enough to be have some options in front of me.

    I’m also thankful for this blog and your writings. I find myself really connecting with everything that is said, even if i’m not 100% in agreement all the time

    Thanks for another great post and please enjoy the Alabama duck

    1. donna brooks

      Take full advantage of the Alzheimer’s Disease Association. In NYC in the 1980s when I was taking care of my mother, who had late-stage dementia after years of Parkinsons, they ran care-givers groups that proved to be a valuable (if intense) way to learn about options for care, to hear about different downward trajectories, to get info about medications and drug trials, and to receive counseling about the ongoing losses that dementia poses to family members.

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