In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it was a good time to take a moment and think about some things I am thankful for. This is by no means a complete list, but here are some things I am thankful for.
1. The Founding of the Country - I'd like to say thanks to the Founding Fathers for founding the country - and for being the best libertarian, tax-hating, freedom-loving government founders that they could be. You set a great example for the rest of the world!
2. My Grandparents - I'd like to thank my grandparents for coming to this country. The opportunities for success are much better over here. There are no castes that lock you and your descendants into economic misery for all time. There is no guarantee, of course, but college is open to everyone, anyone can incorporate a business, and we have a system of laws that is generally fair and not for sale.
3. Parents - I'd like to thank my parents for working very hard and making a better life for us.
4. Mayor Daley - As a Chicago native, thanks really need to go to Mayor Daley for helping make sure that Chicago did not end up like Detroit or Cleveland. Daley's ceaseless Chicago-boosting and economic development over the last two decades have really been a great boon for the city. I only hope that whoever comes after can do half as well. To his critics - you're right, he's not a genius, but he has always put Chicago first and he has really done quite a great job.
5. Progress - I am thankful for the advancements in technology and medicine that make our lives better and longer. I am also thankful for the underlying societal/economic structures that allow these advances to take place. For example, without people willing to put up capital, not a lot of research would get done. Without a strong patent system, few people would be willing to put up capital. Without a strong court system, people would not have enough faith in the patent system to justify putting up their capital. I am thankful that we have been able to leverage our capital markets, strong court system and strong IP system to foster the innovations that make our lives so much better.
I always like to include one on the list that few would expect, so here goes -
6. I would like to thank Stanislav Petrov for preventing the destruction of the world. In 1983, the Soviets shot down a South Korean passenger jet with a U.S. Congressman aboard. Everyone was killed. After the attack was a hair-trigger time wherein the Soviets were expecting some kind of US retaliation. The Soviet's military policy was for them to launch their entire nuclear arsenal (which was bigger than the US's at the time) if they detected a US launch. Petrov was the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the Soviet launch detection system. When his system detected a single US launch, Petrov decided to consider it an error rather than report it as a launch. The belief is that if he reported it as a launch, then the Soviets would have ordered a full-scale launch. Later, when the system reported the launch of four additional missiles, Petrov again considered it a computer error rather than a launch. Petrov did not have any evidence to back up his claim of a false launch - he just thought that it would be odd of the US to launch so few missiles.
Thinking about the incident now, it is amazing that the fate of the world hinged on the heart and mind of just one man. Amazing and scary. Later, once the story became known, Petrov was later honored by the UN in 2006 and given a World Citizen Award. Thank you Stanislav Petrov, for preventing the destruction of the world!
What are YOU thankful for?
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!