As I think about all that I’m thankful for this year I realize that, in addition to my wonderful wife, family, friends and Church, there are a number of things that come to mind that have to be placed in the category of “politically incorrect” or even (horrors) the unwoke. So, I thought it would be fun to list my top ten politically incorrect blessings, plus a few honorable mentions. So here they are, in no particular order.
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 recently 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 retired in June 2019 from his full-time position as Senior Economist and Resident Scholar at the John Locke Foundation and currently holds the position of Senior Economist Emeritus at the Foundation. From January 2001 to March 2017, he served as JLF’s first Vice President for Research. In addition to his emeritus position at JLF, Cordato holds the title of Lecturer at the School of Public and International Affairs at NC 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.