Fashion Plate

If you like Texas Jot, please take a look at my other blog, Fashion Plate. It is the home of my handmade retro Barbie clothes and lots of delicious recipes from my cookbooks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Meet Thomas Peterffy

Thomas Peterffy came to the United States as a refugee in 1965, unable to speak English.  Since that time he has worked as a draftsman and a computer programmer.  Only five years later, he was able to  buy a seat on the American Stock Exchange.  He is founder and CEO or Interactive Brokers.  According to Peterffy, he has paid 1.9 billion dollars in taxes in his lifetime.

Whether you agree with his political choice or not, it is a compelling video and gives us all pause for thought.

I apologize for the pop-ups.. I can't find this ad without some sort of additional advertising.


  1. As a Texan who has traveled several times to Eastern Europe, including Hungary – I find this political ad fascinating. Here we have the 59th wealthiest man in the United States (according to Forbes w/ a net worth of $4.6B) providing us with a history lesson about his native Hungary.
    Unfortunately, Mr. Peterffy fails to accurately depict the history of his homeland. Hungary was under a communist economic system at the time Mr Petterffy lived in Hungary. Over a period of time (post 1960 the economy transformed toward a more socialist style or “mixed” economy. In a communist economic system the government seeks to manage both the economy and the society by ensuring that property is owned collectively. In theory, a socialist economy supports the idea that the working or class should take over and run things collectively, democratically, for the benefit of the majority. The problem with socialism is that governments and economies do not exist independently of one another. Almost certainly a socialist economy tends to have a more powerful centralized government which in turn tends to monopolize the wealth rather than redistribute to the people. Mr. Petterffy’s depiction is misleading in that he wants Americans to believe the economy he left was socialist and it wasn’t. It was soviet era communism which was much more severe and oppressive and proved to be a massive failing.
    Having also spent time in countries with strong socialist economies – namely Denmark, Sweden, and Norway I found the society of these countries equally interesting. On average these residents pay about 75% of their income to taxes. The citizens consider it their civic duty to work hard, be productive so they can help take care of each other. In turn, they are highly productive, have no poverty or homeless residents. Their education systems continually rank as top in the world. They don’t pay for childcare, hospital bills, or even their own funeral expenses. I found it interesting in many conversations that they take pride in paying a higher tax rate realizing the benefits are shared by their fellow countrymen. Mindful you won’t see BMW’s, Porsches, or even a few cars whiz down the streets of Copenhagen. You’re more likely to see people on foot, bike or riding the rail. You’ll also find vibrant communities void of high levels of pollution, nonexistent crime rates, and people with a fierce sense of community and social obligation.
    Not that I support a socialist style economy for the US. I do not believe a Nordic style socialist system would ever evolve in America. Our demographics are more diverse and our political ecosystem tends to be highly polarized as one of extremes. I think our system has some huge advantages in terms of incentives to encourage performance over socialism. But our capitalist system also has some undeniable failures.
    What I find troubling is watching political ads paid for by Mr. Petterffy. As a person who came to the US from abroad and has benefited enormously from our economic system – seems to me he should be happy to contribute a few more tax dollars to help this country solve its fiscal issue? I encourage you to research how Mr. Petterffy made his fortune. In short, he is a Wall Street market trader who profited in era of lax financial regulation that helped lead this country toward economic disaster. Now Mr. Petterffy is upset at the thought some of the tax loop holes he uses to lower the percentage of personal taxes he pays may be abruptly closed.
    I for one refuse to believe that asking all Americans to pay an equal percentage of their income toward taxes will result in economic failure. At the least it might help foster a shared sense of social / civic responsibility. For others, well they can always return to Hungary in hopes they could use their amassed fortune to buy the votes of Hungarian voters in hopes they would be happy to happy to have someone take advantage of them while asking them to politely pay more to support their cause?

  2. Dear Texan...You do realize that Norway, Sweden and Denmark combined are only 48,241 square miles larger than Texas? What may work in a small independent nation might not just work on a grand scale. And, honestly, I don't want to pay 75% of my income in taxes when almost one half of our population is on the dole. I am happy to support charities, but if you want my money, you better get off your duff and work. I have friends with family members on disability and even they don't understand how their siblings have qualified for government cash. Clean up the system before you ask for any further sacrifice on the taxpayers part.
    I did research Mr. Petterffy's history and he makes no bones about the fact that he fled communism. It is common knowledge that he has made a fortune in this country and he's extremely grateful that he's had the opportunity to do so. You could even hate him because he is divorced. I still don't understand what is wrong with being wealthy. Should we belittle surgeons, lawyers and entrepreneurs because they were smart and clever enough to succeed? Where would we be without those "rich buys" who invented the internet?
    In case your momma didn't tell you... life is not fair. If you don't like your situation, get out there and do something about it. The Horatio Alger stories of Americans from all walks of life are inspiring. One of the best things about America is that we have the right the succeed. If you want to swim with the meek and miserable, maybe you ought to go live in Hungary.

    1. *What may work in a small independent nation might not just work on a grand scale.*

      Imperial Rome, a nation never matched. Been there. Done that. Even had the same system during the republic. It was verry socialist with free food and free games for all romans in need

      It did had slavery however, but it was everywhere in that era. The world takes time to evolve.