The Wall Street Journal Ad I Wish I'd Written Myself

I generally avoid political discussions and debates on this blog. I have strong opinions about the economy, bailouts, executive bonuses, congressional hypocrisy, taxation, government intrusion, partisanship, and more. (I know, you are shocked that I have strong opinions!). And I am more than happy to discuss these in person, but, as I just said, I generally avoid doing so here.
But, an anonymous paid ad ran in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (page A4), and the author has managed to clearly and effectively articulate what so many find frustrating. The ad text has really resonated with me, so much so that I have been feeling compelled to share copies of it far and wide. And so, possibly against my better judgment, I am providing a link to the ad text here. Regardless of your political orientation, this one is well worth the read.

24 responses to “The Wall Street Journal Ad I Wish I'd Written Myself”

  1. Russell Brown Avatar
    Russell Brown

    I only wish that I could really believe that this ad would take big steps towards helping to remove the wool that is covering so many people’s eyes. So many people are willfully ignorant about what is going on; yet those same people still scream loud with their support for the Congress, Senate and the White House! Those same people know only half or quarter truths and ring loud with their support… It’s a sad state we are in…

  2. Kevin Suttle Avatar
    Kevin Suttle

    Thanks for not being afraid to stand up for what you believe Ben. May you be the first of many.

  3. RobG Avatar

    I wonder how many people out there are having "Buyer’s Remorse" with regards to their votes this past November. I also wonder how many of those people are the very executives of the companies being targeted? I’d say quite a few.

  4. Adam Reynolds Avatar
    Adam Reynolds

    In a pure capitalist society, America would have failed by now. AIG would be bankrupt. Deal with that reality and then just accept that what is happening is an extremely hypocrital tax payer bail out.
    Welcome to a welfare state because the alternative pure capitalist is something America cannot handle.

  5. Paul Carney Avatar
    Paul Carney

    Thanks, Ben. I saw that, too, yesterday. Change will only come when transparency is brought forth. So for those who don’t believe that anything can be done, join the fight to force transparency – it is all we business-minded, reasonable Americans want! With transparency in place, we can then deal with the real issues.
    We may still disagree with each other on ideas, but let the debate be open.

  6. David Avatar

    WOW! Amazing! I wonder who has the money to buy a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal these days….oh yeah, million dollar bonus recipients! Congress is the problem? Vote them out. Every two years there’s an election. The Congressmen/women were only channeling "populist" anger that failure and incompetence gets rewarded. Don’t like them? Vote them out. The constitution made it the easiest body to vote out for a reason.
    And really, WHO wrote this ad, and how condescending do they have to be? "shamelessly pandering to an uninformed electorate ". Seriously, F***K you. You know what, we’re coming off an election with the highest levels of engagement in decades, and WE aren’t the ones that messed up this economy. Don’t call me uninformed. Misinformation was what got us to this point in the first place.
    Quote: "The bonuses in question were voted by Congress and signed into law by the sitting President." MORE misinformation. The House passed its bill, the Senate has yet to vote on a bill, and they are different, so it will need to go to conference. THE PRESIDENT HAS NOT SIGNED THIS BILL (a bill he has asked congress not to pass, by the way). How is THAT for uninformed?
    And who is this aimed at? If you want to persuade the masses, don’t advertise in the WSJ, have balls and put an advert in the Biloxi Sun Herald, or the Chicago Times. This is just like Rick Santelli throwing a fit on the trading floor, doing an impromptu poll of traders and THEN having the gonads to declare "this is a pretty good cross section of America right here". Really? I mean, Really? Millionaire bondsman are a pretty good cross section on America? Well, excuse me, I guess I must be an elitist, because I live in a different America to that one.
    This advert was anonymous for a reason. It’s an embarrassment. It’s a last ditch effort to validate incompetence and failure.

  7. Russell Brown Avatar
    Russell Brown

    Do you really think that Obama, the Senate or the Congress has shown anything BUT to be incompetent and failures? If you voted for those currently in any of those positions you loose the right to even complain about the excesses of wall street unless your in an uproar of Washington’s spending…
    BTW: The bill that allowed the spending was the join congress/senate bill that was passed. The exception was in there BECAUSE THE WHITE HOUSE ASKED FOR IT.
    "WE aren’t the ones that messed up this economy";
    BS, the Dems have as much to answer for as the sorry Republicans in the past and EVERYTHING to answer for in the current. In fact it’s DEMOCRATS that pushed banks to make loans to people who should get one to begin with; starting with the Clinton administration. It’s the mortgage crisis that is making this as bad as it is! Stop getting all your news from one source you come off as nothing but an angry bitter ill informed douche!

  8. Aaron Wallrich Avatar
    Aaron Wallrich

    Very Gutsy Ben! I’ve been right on the edge of hitting the "post" button too and I think all you really have to ask yourself is…. "is this relevant to my blogs purpose" Your a technology Evangelist and this issue, regardless of your political affiliation, has direct consequences to the Tech Sector. Bravo!

  9. jeff Avatar

    Thanks for a great read Ben. I’m so tired of listening to/reading the "Change" nonsense forced upon us by the media and voiced by enlightened rock stars and Hollywood elite with all of their 11th grade education. I must have asked Obama supporters a thousand times what kind of change they were voting for, but they didn’t really know. I guess now we know. It’s the kind of change when your government decides we’d all be better off if they ran everything in our lives/communities. Well guess what. I work with the federal government and I’m pretty sure I don’t want these lifelong politicians and bureaucrats running anything else in my life. I’ve also lived overseas and saw how that has worked for them. Guess what…in France they’d love to have only 10% unemployment. No thanks. I’ll take the greedy, overpaid, villainous CEOs with their Harvard MBAs and 30 years of experience any day.

  10. Darren Avatar

    Great post Ben… Thank you!

  11. Lee Avatar

    Huzzah! But, it’s too late for WSJ ads. After a century of sabotage, we now need a complete overhaul of our courts and capitals.
    Start with a "Tea Party" April 15th.

  12. Kenneth Gladden Avatar
    Kenneth Gladden

    I have to say Ben, I’m really disapponted to find out you agree with that ad.

  13. Brian Sadler Avatar
    Brian Sadler

    Politics Ben…. it’s obviously not your strong point, now is it? I’d stick to coding if I were you! 🙂
    A decent response to this WSJ ad can be found at:

  14. Dan Avatar

    Great post Ben!
    Good read and easily the truth

  15. Clint Avatar

    While I don’t agree with allowing the government to incarcerate or even punish corporate heads for being wrong there must be accountability for tax dollars WE give these companies. And if they won’t police themselves then we are sadly forced to take matters into our own hands. They, the corporations in trouble, are in a pickle and can’t afford to do for themselves, so we have elected to bail them out with money that they didn’t earn and isn’t thiers. It isn’t fair that my tax dollars aimed at rescueing these companies for the good of the economy is used to pay extra bonuses to employees for getting into them and us into this situation in the first place. I’d rather see those millions go into retrofitting their business model to serve the new state of business of today, to turn things around for profitability of the people and good of the nation. Lets not forget that the US and its economic financial systems have only been around for a couple hundreds years and just because it has gotten us this far doesn’t mean it works, it has only worked this far. It is a new world and its time for a new system. Don’t fall for same old trap that is killing us, don’t keep doing the same thing and expecting better results.

  16. Dallas Avatar

    Stirred the pot you have.

  17. robert Avatar

    You have got to be kidding. I am always amazed by smart people who seem to have been living under a rock for the last 8 years. WSJ? Anonymous ad? Support for the one company that single handily brought our financial system to its knees? Ben, buddy, please use that fat brain for what it was intended: critical thinking.
    April Fools? I hope.

  18. Lee Avatar

    "Robert gives a typical response from the traitors to freedom and decency.
    Notice that it is nothing but ad-hominem attacks, and a completely absurd allegation.
    Not one factual support is given nor is there a hint that "Robert" even read the article in question. He certainly did not understand it.
    I applaud you, again, Ben; for taking a stand. It is unfortunate that up to one half of this country will now fight you, loudly and hatefully, to keep all of us in chains.

  19. Andy Sandefer Avatar
    Andy Sandefer

    To all of you who "stood up" and voiced your opinion and didn’t have the guts to include your last name – you’re no better than cowards who take out anonymous ads.
    I am an Independent and I voted for Obama. I still support him. In the past I’ve supported Bill Clinton, John Kerry and the first George Bush (the smart one who bravely served our country in numerous capacities – not Dick Cheney’s puppet president).
    I invite any of you that truly believe that our economy crumbled within the last 2 years or 60 days or whatever FOX News has told you this week to go have a look at the data right here (at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). You call yourselves programmers – why not gather some statistical evidence to back up your bullsh!t – if you can. Make sure you take a good long look at the prosperity period we had when Bill Clinton was in office and make sure you compare and contrast how the economy was doing when he handed over the reigns to spongebob genius pants as opposed to how it was when W handed it over to Obama.
    Many of you would also benefit from learning to add, subtract, multiply and divide so that you could understand this…
    GDP = C + I + G + (X ? M)
    and perhaps maybe even spot when something is too good to be true.
    Also don’t forget about how the outgoing GOP was allowed to reinvent the economic indicators, benchmarks and standards for measuring budgetary success. Try this on for size – "Yeah uh we were attacked by a Afghan Terrorists but we would now like to go after a different, but nearby enemy nation state. Oh and you’re not patriotic if you disagree with us and we won’t count however many billion we spend per month as part of our budget benchmarks." Wow, that’s pretty convenient. You must have hired all of your accountants from folks leftover from Enron and MCI.
    The GOP won with W twice by appealing to the moral views of many. The irony is that the majority of their voting demographic was poor and rural – so what I’m trying to articulate is that the GOP got a lot of people to vote for them who had nothing to gain financially by voting for them. So now that the abortion and religious stuff isn’t enough to win the GOP’s new strategy will be "Quick, blame it on the new guys so we can get back in there!". Who knows – guns, defense and character smearing carried them through a pretty choppy election against Kerry and they may be able to go back to that tactic. I would really like to see if any of the GOP have the guts to stand up and say "I don’t believe in the snake and the apple and I’m willing to admit that dinosaurs existed and that we evolved over time – I’m also willing to admit that we lost our way as a party during the 2000’s decade and we were supposed to be good with money and non-intrusive, what we did was run up a massive deficit and enact the patriot act". Probably won’t happen, but I’ll keep hope alive and if the right GOP guy comes along I might even vote for him.
    @Ben – I guess since you live here full time you’ve got the right to play the game with the rest of us (for those of you who don’t know he’s a US citizen by choice not birth). You probably have a unique perspective from growing up in Europe. I’ve got to believe that the rest of the world, including the UK, France and even Canada must be laughing at us by now.

  20. Darren Labrum Avatar
    Darren Labrum

    Dearest Andy,
    My name is Darren Labrum. I have no idea what or how even half of your self-righteously delivered rant has to do with most or any of the specific issues that the WSJ ad is calling attention to.
    I would like to reiterate my appreciating to Ben for posting the ad. I hadn’t seen this previously.
    Thank you Ben for the post and all the rest of the interesting blog posts that make your blog one of my favorites.

  21. Andy Sandefer Avatar
    Andy Sandefer

    Sorry you didn’t care for my point of view but hey, that’s why it’s called "opinion". But thanks for yours too!

  22. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    Ok, I know I should let this thread die. But, hey, I actually love politics, especially when it stirs up all sorts of emotions. So …
    For starters, I made no comment whatsoever about the past 8 years, so some of you are really making assumptions about where I stand. And not that I owe anyone clarification, but you may be interested to know that I am most definitely not a George Bush fan-boy, but at the same time I also do not find it necessary to paint him as evil and the source of all woes. Actually, for me, the past 8 years are a mixed bag. For example, Roberts was an excellent nomination to the Supreme Court, just as the Harriet Miers nomination was the height of idiocy. The John Bolton appointment to the U.N., though doomed from the start, was truly inspired. The war in Afghanistan was justified, and was sacrificed for a war in Iraq that I never did support. Bush’s position on stem cell research was neither here nor there, whereas I fully approved of his Middle East policies. I fault George Bush on his remarkable inability to never say no to spending, and for in doing so trampling all over traditional GOP positions on the size of budgets and government, and for thereby making current Republican calls for fiscal restraint nothing short of laughable. But I did support the Bush tax cuts, and want to see further cuts, including slashing the corporate tax rate, and the elimination of the death tax and any other forms of double taxation. And sure, we could argue about each and every one of these, and more, but the bottom line is that I think that I do indeed apply critical thinking to my politics, thank you very much.
    Similarly, there were things that Bill Clinton did that I approve of, and things that I most definitely do not (and I most definitely did not approve of the Ken Starr witch-hunt and the subsequent Clinton impeachment). Same for Bush 41, he gets mixed reviews. And I do the same with every President and political figure. The notable exception being Jimmy Carter, the poster boy for national buyer’s remorse, and the one president who perhaps is indeed as moronic as he usually sounds. But, Carter aside, I am an equal opportunity basher. I don’t blame Barack Obama for the fact that the economy has gotten worse while he was in office any more than I blame George Bush for the same. The sub-prime mortgage fiasco that was the straw that broke the camel’s back? The administrations of both Bush and Clinton promoted the ownership society and helped create the climate and environment that encouraged people to buy more than they could afford. And, as unpopular as this position is, I place most of the blame for that one not on congress, and not on politics, and not on mortgage brokers, and not on banks. I place most of the blame on individual greed. But, I’m off on a tangent, so …
    AIG using bailout money to pay bonuses was a demonstration of stupidity, agreed. But, was it illegal? No. In fact, had AIG not paid those bonuses they could probably have been sued by the employees for breach of contract. But does government have the right to tell companies how much to pay and to whom? Most definitely not, except when the government is giving those companies money, in which case the government is a partial owner, a shareholder, and then they can indeed do so, and should. But they did not. In fact, we now know that congress explicitly allowed the bonuses to be paid. And then, after the fact, when the public was rightfully outraged, our politicians stand up with that solemn look and blast what they explicitly allowed.
    Don’t get me wrong. I do think that many execs are overpaid. But it is not up to Congress to regulate that, it is up to us. Here’s an idea. What if the population did not like how much the head of their bank was being paid, and they all got up and moved their accounts to another bank. Can you imagine what would have happened if 50% of customers would pick up and leave? How fast would the company have reacted to make compensations changes? It’s doable. But no, many would rather whine than do.
    Did you ever see the musical Evita? The narrator, Che, is a wonderfully cynical character. And watching the mourners at Evita’s funeral he sings: "Oh what a circus, oh what a show, Argentina has gone to town, Over the death of an actress called Eva Peron, We’ve all gone crazy, Mourning all day and mourning all night, Falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right". While I was listening to the outraged senators and congressman and state attorney general’s go on and on about AIG executives, I actually found myself singing Che’s lyrics! Really! This was not tapping in to public outrage. This was not about right or wrong. This was purely about showmanship. Yes, there is always a desire to find a scapegoat, to vilify the evildoer, and what the heck, AIG execs fit the bill, even though they did exactly what Congress allowed.
    And that’s what I liked about this ad. While we can bicker about exact wording, the sentiment is correct, and it calls out congress for their hypocritical behavior and attitudes. And I agree with that, entirely. While listening to the AIG hearings I found myself getting really upset and angry, not at AIG, but at the politicians. The same politicians who rebuked the auto execs for flying to Washington on private jets when about to ask for public funds. The same politicians who fly to Washington often on private jets, and who are all paid with public funds. The same politicians who criticize executives who get paid regardless of what they accomplish, which incidentally is exactly the way politicians get paid.
    And yes, Andy’s comment is correct. I am a U.S. citizen by choice, and I consider myself a very informed citizen. (Heck, during the 2008 campaign I listened to every stump speech and every ad by every candidate in every region of the country, much to my family’s dismay). And my politics are indeed very influenced by growing up in a country that sometimes epitomizes big government and a nanny state mentality, by a country that has a public health system that is far from perfect (I know, I had to use it) and where those that can afford to do so buy private insurance so as not to have to use it, and where taxation makes it much harder to get ahead, and where welfare dependence is unfortunately encouraged. And no, I am not bashing the U.K. as much as I am pointing out that the politics and policies of every country are imperfect, and there seem to be many Americans who have developed a grass-is-always-greener mentality that scares me. But hey, what do I know, after all, I grew up in the Margret Thatcher era, and was really proud of how she dealt with Arthur Scargill and the coalminers union (as was Ronald Reagan, who seemed to borrow her politics when dealing with the air traffic controllers).
    Bottom line, I do like that WSJ ad. No, it does not reflect all of my political views (which admittedly are a mixed bag, I don’t fall in line with the right or the left, and in the three Presidential elections I voted in I did not vote strictly along party lines), but it most definitely sums up how I feel about congress relative to AIG.
    Whew! That was fun! 🙂

  23. Eric Knipp Avatar
    Eric Knipp

    Thanks Ben. You are a true patriot.

  24. Darren Labrum Avatar
    Darren Labrum

    @Eric – I couldn’t have said it better. Let’s face it… Ben is the man. Ben’s book’s were instrumental in helping me understand CF clear back in the day. The more I learn about Ben the more impressed I am with him.
    Ben, I hope I get a chance to

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