December 22, 2011; Source: Rolling Stone (Taibblog) | It’s hard to imagine anyone in America not totally conversant with the distinction of the 1 percent and the 99 percent, even if they don’t agree with the concept or the somewhat inchoate solutions promoted by the Occupy Wall Street movement. The concept has affected the political frame of public dialogue in the U.S., with politicians of all stripes finding ways of sounding moderately attentive to the problems of the nation’s increasing polarization of wealth and power.
Somehow, the leaders of the 1 percent club haven’t quite caught the message, apparently failing to understand or simply ignoring the advice of their public relations people. For example, Home Depot’s co-founder Bernard Marcus responded to someone’s concern about criticism from Occupy critics: “Who gives a crap about some imbecile?…Are you kidding me?” Marcus’s Home Depot partner Kenneth Langone added, ““I am a fat cat, I’m not ashamed…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.”Paychex owner Tom Golisano opined, “If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit.”
Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi takes off on these and other denizens of the economy’s stratosphere for their tin ears. His favorite seems to be Blackstone CEO Steven Schwartzman who complained about poor people who pay no income taxes as having “[no] skin in the game”. Taibbi notes that Schwarzman seems to ignore the fact that lower income people pay sales taxes, payroll taxes, and in many cases property taxes. Schwarzman himself pays just about no income taxes, but as a private equity mogul, he pays only a maximum 15 percent rate on carried interest. He may not like being pushed to pay more taxes by skinless people, but he knows how to pay for his own entertainment, notably a birthday party for himself costing $5 million due to private performances of Rod Stewart and Patti Labelle.
Known as President Obama’s favorite banker, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon reacted to criticism of the 1 percent, saying, “Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it.”
These 1-percenters aren’t simply angry with the imbeciles. They’re going to do something about it—and form a nonprofit. Marcus is among the founders of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit based in Dallas to develop talking points and op-ed pieces to defend the 1 percent against the Occupy crowd’s message. Among Marcus’s partners in this charitable venture are hedge fund guy John Paulson and banker Jamie Dimon. As described by a blogger for Economic Populist, ”It’s like Scrooge, King Midas and The Grinch all formed a non-profit for their kind.” Bah humbug!—Rick Cohen