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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some reasons to be thankful this week, even in uncertain times


By Tom Still
Before the Christmas lights are strung across the front fence and the shopping malls get crowded, let’s reflect on a few reasons to be thankful during Thanksgiving Week 2010.

* We live in a country where regular elections take place, political power seamlessly changes hands, and not a shot is fired in anger – unless you count potshots on talk radio.
* We live in a country that (depending on your state or community) still allows right turns on red lights, mobile phone calls in cars, potato chips without warning labels, sports utility vehicles, snowmobiles, energy drinks and a bunch of other things the “nanny state” insists are bad for you.
* We live in a country where political crooks are occasionally elected, but they usually don’t stay that way for long.
* We live in a nation where corporate crooks are caught, although not always soon enough.
* We live in a country that has a Constitution that matters. How did those guys get so much right nearly 225 years ago?
* We live in a country where journalists can feel free to write about almost any topic, including religious freedom, without fear of having their offices burned by a theocratic mob.
* We live in a state that is proud of its traditional “brands” – beer, brats and cheese – but which is beginning to understand the importance of adding biotech, nanotech and “cleantech” to its national image.
* We live in a country where those who try to slow the advances of science and technology rarely succeed in doing so.
* We live in a country that has the military power to be the world’s bully, but which grudgingly accepts the job of being the world’s cop.
* We live in a country that values vocations, vacations and even “stay-cations,” depending on your budget.
* We live in a society where friends can be real and virtual – sometimes at the same time!
* We live in a state where hundreds of thousands of hunters – deer, bear, turkey, duck and more – take to the woods and fields each year, and all but a handful come back alive. By the way, a study by the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication estimates hunters spend nearly $1.4 billion in the state, which supports 25,000 jobs and contributes $197 million in state and local taxes.
* We live in a state in which the two most-revered football teams, the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers, could both be playing well after the regular season is over.
* We live during a time when entrepreneurs and other risk-takers are valued, not viewed as automatic credit risks.
* We live in a society in which Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Linked In, Plaxo and other social media make it possible to never be disconnected. Unless, of course, we prefer to be disconnected.
* We live in a nation whose armed services personnel volunteer to be where the rest of us hope we never need to go.
* We live in a world that is far from perfect, but which aspires to be better.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.

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