The Rich, They Are Very Different - And Exceedingly Unaware Of Their Privilege

Ryan Chittum points us toward a piece written by Bloomberg's Max Abelson in which he recounts many inadvertently funny quotes from the 1 percent, bemoaning the fact that they get no respect:

Today, Abelson has one of his best yet, reporting on how some of the super-elite are on the attack against the 1 percent meme.

What makes this story very good is that Abelson has found some of the least self-aware people you can imagine and got them on the record, either himself or via others’ interviews. Take Blackstone multibillionaire Stephen Schwarzman, whom he quotes from Bloomberg TV bemoaning the fact that poor and lower-income people don’t pay federal income tax (almost all of them do federal payroll taxes and the like). That was in response to a question about whether he, who Abelson points out surely pays just a 15 percent tax rate on much or most of his income, should pay more taxes.

The quotes alone make this piece worthwhile, but Abelson’s attention to detail makes it even better. He sits down with Ayn Rand-loving former BB&T CEO John Allison, who has co-founded something called the Job Creators Alliance that gets lots of airtime on Fox News and Fox Business, and who is aggrieved by the provision of Dodd Frank that requires companies to disclose its CEO-to-median-employee pay ratio. He calls something that could be done with an Excel spreadsheet and an hour or two “incredibly wasteful.” The point, of course, is that forcing such disclosure might help keep executive paydays, which are incredibly wasteful to shareholders (the owners of capital), down.

Abelson is also good to track down Leon Cooperman, the hedge fund manager who wrote the open letter to President Obama about how his feelings were hurt or something:

Cooperman, 68, said in an interview that he can’t walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, without being thanked for speaking up. At least four people expressed their gratitude on Dec. 5 while he was eating an egg-white omelet, he said.

Then there’s Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, speaking forthrightly from his Manhattan dressing room:

“I am a fat cat, I’m not ashamed,” he said last week in a telephone interview from a dressing room in his Upper East Side home. “If you mean by fat cat that I’ve succeeded, yeah, then I’m a fat cat. I stand guilty of being a fat cat.”

And the billionaire founder of Paychex Incorporated with his thirty-something ex-tennis star (Monica Seles) girlfriend who wants to vomit when he hears about paying his “fair share” is fun stuff.


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