It is a central point of economics to suggest that people are rewarded for their marginal product, and not for their infra-marginal contributions. Similarly, people have no guarantee of compensation for the external social benefits they produce. In other words, expect less gratitude than you probably deserve.
People who offer gratitude to others, however, tend to be much happier and more productive. This is a recurring theme throughout Gregg Easterbrook’s just published The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. So on this Thanksgiving let us put aside the marginal product theory for a day, and feel gratitude for all that we have, which is indeed so very much. Without everyone else’s infra-marginal contributions, our lives would be sorry, short, and sad indeed. Perhaps, if only for a day, we should retitle this blog InfraMarginal Revolution.