A Free-Market Energy Blog

A Politically Incorrect Thanksgiving List

By Roy Cordato -- November 24, 2021

“Great entrepreneurs that I’m particularly thankful for include John D. Rockefeller, whose market insights and innovations drove down the price of kerosene in the late 1800s by almost 70 percent, making lighting affordable to the masses and giving them a life after sunset.”

1. Styrofoam cups and take-out containers—I love Styrofoam containers, especially in the winter. I like my coffee to be piping hot and I want it to stay that way to the very last drop. Paper cups just don’t do it, plus I typically have to use two. Also, the best way to be sure that your take-out orders remain hot all the way home is for them to be packaged in Styrofoam. It is truly a great invention. Paper is a terrible substitute.

2. Plastic Grocery Bags—they are clearly the most convenient way to bag your groceries, but they are also sturdy and great for a whole host of second, third, and fourth uses. The most important is, of course, disposing of kitty litter. (We have 4 cats.) Also, as an unintended effect, they take up far less landfill space than paper bags.

3. Carbon Dioxide—As a living and breathing human being I am so completely thankful for CO2. Without it no life on earth, especially mine, would be possible. It is food for all plant life which is food for all humans.

4. Our well protected system of private property and free exchange—without it there would be no capitalism and without capitalism we would all be living in abject poverty.

5. Market generated profits—The biggest single driver for people to provide goods and services for others (like me and my family) are profits. If it weren’t for the lure of profits and the ability to earn and keep them, we wouldn’t have any of the great material advantages in our lives—great technology, warm and comfortable homes, inexpensive transportation to all parts of the world, tremendous medical advances, you name it. None of these things would exist without the possibility of producing them for a profit.

6. Market entrepreneurs—These are people who are constantly on the look out for better ways to satisfy the needs and wants of others. And when entrepreneurs are successful, we are all made better off. Great entrepreneurs that I’m particularly thankful for include John D. Rockefeller, whose market insights and innovations drove down the price of kerosene in the late 1800s by almost 70 percent, making lighting affordable to the masses and giving them a life after sunset. As an unintended consequence he probably did more to save the whale than any single human being that ever lived. I’m also thankful for Henry Ford for figuring out how to make relatively fast personal transportation—the car—affordable to people other than the rich. Others who I’m especially thankful for include Sam Walton, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. What all of these great entrepreneurs have in common is they figured out ways to bring what were once luxury goods to the middle and lower classes at very low cost.

7. Millionaires and Billionaires (especially billionaires)—Because they love profits these people put all of that extra wealth in investments which add to the country’s stock of capital and provide a more prosperous future for everyone.

8. The Petroleum and Coal Industries—For providing the affordable and always available energy that makes every aspect of my material and physical wellbeing possible.

9. The Second Amendment—While I have never owned or even shot a gun I am, without a doubt, more protected from both criminals who may attempt to harm me and a government who may try to take away my other rights, when my fellow law abiding citizens right to keep and bear arms is protected.

 10. All heterosexual couples—For perpetuating the human race for about 300,000 years now and generating the most important resource on the planet—the human mind.

Honorable Mentions (4)

Corporate Tax Cuts—Since corporations can’t pay taxes only people can, in particular consumers, workers, and shareholders, it is the most dishonestly named tax at any level of government. It is a tax that is hidden from all who pay it. I am thankful to both my own state of North Carolina’s legislature and the US Congress for their efforts to slash this tax, although I would be more thankful if it were abolished.

Charles Koch and his deceased brother David—I made it through graduate school on a Koch funded fellowship in the early 1980s. As the son of a father who never finished high school and a mother who left school in 8th grade, I am particularly grateful for the opportunity that these two great advocates for liberty gave me.

The free exercise clause of the First Amendment—This is actually a property rights protection (see number 3) allowing people to use their property as they see fit in expressing their religious beliefs. At this point in history it is a bulwark against the tyranny of oppressive wokeness.

Self-interest—Without self-interest people wouldn’t pursue profits and all the good that flows from that would not come about. (See 4, 5, and 7 above.)


Roy Cordato is Senior Economist Emeritus at the John Locke Foundation where he previously was Senior Economist and Resident Scholar. From January 2001 to March 2017, Roy served as JLF’s first Vice President for Research.

In addition, Dr. Cordato is Lecturer at the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University where he works with the Free Societies Project as faculty advisor for The Society for Politics, Economics, and the Law and The Austrian Economics Forum. He is also editor of Political Economy in the Carolinas, a journal published by Classical Liberals in the Carolinas.


  1. John W. Garrett  

    Excellent list.

    Thank you.


  2. Robert Borlick  

    You really are a dinosaur.

    Styrofoam cups? plastic bags? Are you oblivious to what these do to pollute the oceans and endanger sea animals?

    CO2? Fossil fuels?

    Apparently you are a climate change denyer. So you think the wild fires, droughts, unusually hot summers and freak winter storms are not something to be concerned about?

    Koch brothers? You mean the guys that use their wealth to bribe legislators to pass laws that allow them to escape paying taxes on the profits they make damaging the environment?

    Lastly, your apparent love for capitalism ignores the excess rents that participants with market power extract from consumers while suppressing competition.

    You are some piece of work!


    • rbradley  

      Hello Bob: I’ll respond for Roy. The litter problem often involves a lack or private property rights, like to the ocean.

      Fossil fuels have been a Godsend to humanity. CO2 has positives; the real threat is climate policy to disrupt the energy market, such as in Texas with the grid takeover of wind and solar to crowd out the ‘reliables.’

      Please revisit the statistics on weather extremes–that is very exaggerated. Climate change has played a role in the CA wildfires by distracting the state from forest management.

      The Koch brothers are classical liberals who have used their wealth to promote free markets and demote rent-seeking and cronyism by business interests. Please read “Good Profit’ by Charles Koch to understand his world view.

      Finally, government is the source of monopoly because it IS a monopoly–and businesses use government to restrict their competitors.

      Free-market capitalism is very different than what you think it is–political capitalism and the mixed economy are the real foes of human betterment in my view.

      Best wishes ….. Rob


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