Following Independence Day, Dennis Pragerlamented, “This Fourth of July weekend, there were a spate of opinion pieces arguing how bad America is and how immoral its founding.”
He then asked a very powerful question, “Can America survive if its own people despise it?”
It makes one to wonder why so many Americans hate America. After all, the United States has been the freest, most prosperous nation for over 200 years. The simple answer is we are not teaching our children what there is to love about America. Thomas Sowell wrote an excellent piece about this as well.
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So, what is it that makes America so unique, that sets us apart from the rest of the world, and is so worth celebrating?
Interestingly enough, it is people from other countries and immigrants to the United States—particularly those from socialist and communist countries—who can articulate it best.
One such person is Thomas Peterffy. In 2012 Mr. Peterffy released a video sharing his personal experience as an immigrant from socialist Hungary and his concerns that America may be following the same path.
We’ve been blessed with unprecedented freedom for so long in our country that we tend to take it for granted. And we’re so busy enjoying it that the decades of slow encroachments on those freedoms have gone virtually unnoticed. But for someone like Peterffy, who witnessed socialism firsthand, it’s a lot easier to recognize when you’re on that path and deeply troubling when you know where it leads.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Peterffy and ask why he feels America is so unique from the rest of the world.
His response was the American Dream, and then stressed the importance of understanding what that means. Peterffy describes the American Dream as “a free market economy where people are free to acquire, own, transact and accumulate property, including land and operating businesses.”
This is also known as capitalism. And while that has, unfortunately, come to be a bad word in our society, it is a very good principle and practice that benefits all of us. Capitalism is simply our freedom to keep what we earn. It is the freedom to own, manage and maintain the fruits of our labors— our home, our car, our clothes, our money, our businesses. It is something we have just come to expect in America but in a world marching to the socialist drum; it is a very rare and unique idea.
The exact opposite of the American Dream, or capitalism, is communism, something Peterffy knows a great deal about.
“In communism only the government owns property and owns businesses. For individuals, it is strictly forbidden to own any property other than personal property, the nature of which is very limited and clearly defined,” he said.
Peterffy further explained that socialism is any state between capitalism and communism.
“It was originally defined as the way to transfer society from capitalism to communism in a controlled and gradual fashion. Initially socialism is soft, aside of some regulations and some limits on businesses people are mostly free. Then it slowly hardens. There are more and more regulations, tighter limits on the size of businesses, higher taxes, large firms and farms are nationalized," he said.
“As it hardens further, the sizes of houses and apartments any family may occupy is strictly limited in square feet. Income tax rises to close to 100 percent above certain income levels, no private business may have more than x number of employees. All larger businesses and lands are owned by the government,” he continued.
Before we write this off as the rantings of an old man from an old era, believing such things couldn’t happen in today’s world of “progress,” we need to look at what has happened to Venezuela. It is the perfect example of the path from capitalism to communism in real time. It is devastating to see what has happened to their country especially in the last 15 years. No one recognized it as socialism when Venezuela nationalized their oil industry in 1976. In fact, much of the world’s leaders were heralding it as a visionary move.
Shortly after that, President Jimmy Carter announced his Windfall Profit tax to redistribute profits from “greedy” oil companies.
Anyone who sat in long lines paying ridiculous high prices for gas probably considered this a great idea. After all, the oil companies were making all that money and we were scrimping to try and fill our gas tanks. It’s hard to believe that something so seemingly “generous” could lead to the collapse of an entire country, such as in the case of Venezuela, and yet that is exactly where it leads; as people like Peterffy are well aware.
When I asked Peterffy what his concerns were for America today he said our path to socialism citing the increasing number of Americans under 40 who think positively about socialism.
“It is difficult to get young people to think about this rationally,” he said. “They don’t seem to realize that in a free economy people can spend their money on whatever they choose.”
Surely that is a principle we can all get behind.
Do you want to decide how to spend the money you earn or do you want someone deciding it for you? It doesn’t matter how much money it is, whether $5 or $5 million. The principle is the same. If we want the freedom to live the American Dream then we have to stop criticizing others for doing so.
The fact is, America is more than geography. It is an ideal; a belief that everyone has equal opportunity, that we are all free to pursue our dreams and work hard to achieve them. It is the freedom to keep what we earn and decide for ourselves what we will do with it. It is the freedom to worship, to speak, to provide for our families, to live in peace and prosperity. There is so much to love about America; but if we don’t start sharing it with our children, our neighbors and friends, Americans will continue to hate America and I fear we will witness the answer to Mr. Prager’s question.
My complete interview with Mr. Peterffy can be viewed on my Blog.
Kimberly Fletcher is the author of WOMEN: America’s Last Best Hope, president and founder of HomeMakers for America Inc., and contributing writer with The Blaze. The views in this article are solely of the author and not representative of HomeMakers for America Inc. Follow Kimberly on Facebook and Twitter @proudhomemaker
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