Let us give thanks

On the list of things to be thankful for, geography has to be at the top.

We all like to think that we basically deserve what we got. Oh, perhaps we had a couple of lucky breaks, but we worked hard and followed the rules, and we earned what we have.

But that is only true if you restrict your comparison class to other Americans, or other Americans with functional families. It certainly isn't true if you compare yourself to the rest of the world.

An African farmer can, through the same kind of hard work, diligence, and excellent planning that you exercised, become a perhaps slightly less hungry African farmer. He is not free to do the only thing which could possibly bring him anywhere close to your level of prosperity, which is move. If he tries to do the sensible, foresighted thing in order to assure himself and his family a better tomorrow, men with guns will meet him at the border to push him back into poverty. If he succeeds in evading the men with guns, he will be labeled an illegal immigrant, forced into the gray economy by his lack of papers, and routinely excoriated by talk show hosts.

Any American who thinks that they earned what they have is like a marathon runner who started 100 feet from the finish line. An accident of birth got you 99% of the way there. The last 1% may have been run at impressive speed, but there's something unseemly about bragging on it to much.