Shortly after turning 40 and weighing more than 300 pounds, I was trolling the Internet for motivation for yet another soon-to-fail diet.

My browsing brought me to a blog titled “Mark’s Daily Apple” that explained how the conveniences, lifestyle choices and processed carbohydrates of modern life were incongruent with the hunter-gather genome that our ancestors developed over millions of years of adaptation to a rugged and natural existence.

Far more than a diet, the paleo lifestyle has been transformational for me. Understanding my body’s hormonal response to sugar, I have kicked a lifetime addiction to carbs, lost 100 pounds and am the strongest I have ever been.

Tomorrow I turn 42.

Despite my adherence to paleo principles, I continue to hunt for food at the grocery store just like everyone else. I simply keep to the outside walls of the store for the vast majority of my purchases.

Far-and-away my favorite purchase for paleo, economic and political purposes is the $5 Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken.

Already cooked and conveniently packaged, the chicken is a perfect food source for those of us looking to get our nutrition from whole, protein-dense foods. Sometimes I will keep one in the car and snack on it all day.


The economics of the Sam’s Club chicken are as jaw-dropping as its seasoned skin. Consider the work it takes to start with an egg and produce a packaged, ready-to-eat chicken at the back of a store. There are easily dozens of steps in the chicken value chain, and each contributor along the way has to be compensated and realize a profit for the value he adds to the process.

Not convinced of the resounding economic achievement that is the $5 Sam’s Club chicken? Send me an email. I will gladly give you an egg and the promise of five bucks two months from now in exchange for a cooked and packaged chicken. I like mine seasoned with rosemary but am not fussy as long as the chicken is available at the moment of my choosing a few miles from my home.

Convinced my economic argument and my $5 bill are safe, I now turn to the politics.

The Sam’s Club chicken and the consumer choice it represents is the ultimate form of democracy.

Every day is Election Day in our free-market system, where billions of transactions send constant feedback to a marketplace that is far more attentive and responsive than the most earnest or poll-driven politician.

As buyers of products and utilizers of services, we exchange our finite resources for the items we need and value most. Far superior to preferences measured by an opinion poll, how we spend our money is a precise assessment of worth and personal utility maximization.

Those firms most attuned to consumer preference and best-positioned to serve it efficiently profit. Firms who fail to meet the wants and needs of the marketplace falter. It is a brutal but essential component of economic adaptation.

The Sam’s Club chicken is also a great example of the modernization, scale and efficiency we rely on to make civil society work.

It typically takes capital-intense industries and profit-seeking, multinational corporations to deliver the wonders of modern economic life that make ours a time of relative ease and abundance.

How modern life ironically contributes to obesity and ill health is a topic for a different part of the newspaper.

While most of us have an inherent understanding of the value corporate America and industry provide, there are some who launch political or public relations attacks at the enterprises that power our way of life, commercialize modern wonders and feed our families.


These attacks focus on exuberant profits, environmental impacts, modest wages paid to low-skilled workers and other perceived slights on society. While these protests can make news, consumers operating within our free-market system ultimately endorse the actions and outcomes of America’s great economic entities.

Black Friday is the economic equivalent of a political landslide in favor of corporate America that makes Reagan versus Mondale look like a close election.

This is not to suggest the elimination of regulation or oversight. Our political process and rule of law sustains a framework that makes the free market possible and occasionally ensures the fulfillment of an unmet public need. Not everything that is good can be assigned a direct, market-driven price.

Nevertheless, allowing businesses to operate in a predictable competitive environment free from market-distorting regulation is the surest way to ensure that consumers have the opportunity to make the decisions that best serves their individual interest. In the end, the free-market system is the most efficient and democratic way to maximize the utility of us all.

Excluding, I suppose, the chickens.

Dan Demeritt is a Republican political consultant and public relations specialist. He is a former campaign aide and communications director for Gov. Paul LePage. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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