It is an advertisement by billionaire Thomas Peterffy, who explains what life was like for him under socialism and his fear that America is now on that track.
I saw articles on this advertisement on both CNN.com and The Washington Examiner's website. Unfortunately, I also did something that I usually regret: I read the comments for the stories. Particularly on CNN's article, this was somewhat maddening, yet highly enlightening.
First of all, the CNN article is titled "Rich, worried and buying ad time." That title is already biased because it focused on the fact that Peterffy is rich. Indeed, it is the thing most likely to stick with people who see the article, particularly the more progressive-minded. After all, to them, being rich is wrong and evil.
Let us check out a few examples of those comments below:
Mr Pettrfy if you cared so much about American society couldn't you use the money you are Spending on ads to further good social causes, such as cancer research, scholarships to name a few? You are such a hypocrite your motive is simply greed!! We do not want America turning into a third world country full of only too types of people. The super rich and the poor. No thank you. Look at countries like Canada and Austria that have good social programs. Where is the decay in those countries? Their people in general are affluent better educated and healthier than Americans. Come November the answer will be No! to you and that snake Mitt Romney. Obama 2012!
$10M...hmmmm...a $10K raise for 100 middle-class employees or maybe some increases in benefits or maybe a few minutes worth of political advertising containing demonstrable misrepresentatiions in hopes it gets me more tax cuts...hmmmm........
Please Mr. Pefferty – get a life and go study social sciences. You obviously have no idea what socialism is.
Now, what's wrong with these comments?
None of them actually address what he's saying. Instead of arguing against what the ad tells them, they attack him for his wealth, thus completely missing, if not proving, his point. Instead of understanding that he would have had no opportunity to be as successful as he has been in socialist Hungary, they complain that he's not doing what they want him to do with his money. If anything, they're demonstrating jealousy at Mr. Peterffy's wealth and success. Instead of being glad for his success, they are demonizing him for using his wealth as he sees fit. They call him, essentially, evil for wanting to defend that wealth, even though he earned it.
Sorensen's comment is the most arrogant and wrong. Peterffy grew up in a socialist nation and saw what it did to people. His ad points out that it mired them in poverty and stripped them of the will to work because no matter how much they worked, they would never improve their station. It would sap their initiative to improve themselves and their lives because socialism demands that everyone be the same and, after a point, the government would take their success from them. Sorensen, however, seems content to live in a little bubble, where academic studies of socialism, that do not conform to reality, are the norm. And that bubble makes him arrogant enough to essentially imply that a man who experienced it is ignorant and uninformed.
Now for the gem in all of this:
Dear Mr. Peterffy...I too came form a socialist country, czechoslovakia is where I was born and grew up. I have been in the USA for the past 21 years, have worked two jobs the entire time I have been here, Paid MORE taxes precentage wise than you, have been paying healthinsurance for myself and my three boys just to get a bill after we go to the doctor, have NEVER been eligible for foodstamps or welfare because I have a greencard. I have NEVER been handed anything but I promise you one thing..I am a proud parent, work hard and go hungry many many times. I embrace where I came from and understand what it means not to have basic like bread and milk..BUT I guarantee you that if I ever become rich like yourself, I would NEVER spend millions on an ad but rather send that money to my home country to help the others I left behind who are still hungry!! Maybe, oh just maybe you should do that as well.
Now, I'm not questioning this person's credentials. Unless it is proven otherwise, he or she is from Czechoslovakia. However, his/her argument is, again, a sob story that actually doesn't address Peterffy's (well-founded) concerns about creeping socialism. It sounds like Heli has worked hard to live, but how does that make Peterffy's greater success wrong? And again, at the end of his/her comment, Heli complains that Peterffy isn't doing with his billions what Heli wants Peterffy to do. That's not an argument. It is, like the people above, pointless demonizing.
Something I find sad about those who connect to socialist ideals (like wealth redistribution and the demonizing of the rich), let alone actual socialists who seek everything from Western European quasi-socialism to full-blown communism, is how they fail to notice how history utterly refutes the socialist model. The Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own widespread poverty and oppression. The Western European model is collapsing as people riot in the streets of Spain, Portugal, France and Greece, seeking more government largesse as their nations go bankrupt. Not only have those people been sapped of the desire to work for their success, they are blind to the impending national bankruptcy caused by that very largesse.
So in the end, who actually has a meaningful argument: Mr. Peterffy or his critics?