Famous and powerful people win awards all the time. Some deserve them and some don’t. Occasionally, someone less well-known will win an award for something truly praiseworthy.

This column is about everyone else — the ones who go about their lives quietly — who should win an award, but probably won’t.

  • The working mom and dad who figure out what the family will sacrifice to pay for the latest tax hike because politicians wouldn’t sacrifice any government spending.
  • The middle-aged man who loses his job and cuts his discretionary spending, draws on his savings, and seeks a lower paying job to tide him over for a while instead of immediately applying for unemployment or welfare.
  • The small business owner who serves nearly every family in town, but who never gets a fraction of the recognition given to the local public school superintendent who retires young after a three-year stint he took to bump up his pension.
  • The teacher — the one all the parents want for their kids — who is grateful for a secure job, good pay, great benefits and long summer breaks.
  • The farmer who never gets called for the news story because the Agriculture Department official is easier for the reporter to get ahold of.
  • The business owner who looks to government to enforce the rules fairly, not as a conduit for subsidies or cronyism.
  • The young union leader who realizes the age of compulsory unionism has passed, and who quietly commits to renew their union on the cornerstones of voluntary cooperation and valued service to workers.
  • The artist who creates by nature, not to win government arts council subsidies.
  • The parents and grandparents who nurture their offspring with a deep respect for liberty, limited government, self-reliance and generosity.
  • The kid stuck in a crummy neighborhood with little family support who wants to earn their success somehow, and to their role model — who doesn’t even know it.
  • The couple who takes in a young, pregnant woman who has nowhere else to go, and who pays for all her needs instead of signing her up for government assistance because they are grateful to have enough to share.
  • The stockbroker who understands it’s easier to earn back money forgone than it is to earn back a lost reputation.
  • The employer who gives a chance to the job applicant with the arrest record.
  • The person who does for you whatever it is you would hate to do for a living.
  • The pastor or other religious leader who teaches, encourages and exhorts to strengthen the moral underpinnings of civil society, without which no people can be free.
  • The citizen who won’t let their elected officials get away with saying one thing and doing another.
  • The government official who realizes that every person described here is at least as important as he or she is.
  • The Mackinac Center supporter who knows a hundred good causes but knows they all depend on the kind of society the Mackinac Center fights for every day.
  • Those willing to risk their own lives, fortunes and sacred honor in defense of others’ lives, liberties and pursuit of happiness.
  • Everyone else equally praiseworthy, but who won’t fit in a 500-word column.

I can name someone in every one of these categories and I hope you can too.