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Billionaire Sam Zell Defends Tom Perkins: 'The 1 Percent Work Harder'

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When the going gets tough, the rich dudes stick together. Or at least rich dude Sam Zell did in an interview with Bloomberg TV Wednesday.

The billionaire chairman of Equity Group Investments backed up fellow rich guy Tom Perkins, who set off a firestorm when he recently compared the "progressive war on the 1 percent" to Nazi anti-Semitism in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. (He later apologized for using the word "Kristallnacht" but defended the overall "message.")

"I guess my feeling is that he’s right," Zell said when asked by Bloomberg's Betty Liu how he felt about Perkins' stance. "The 1 percent are being pummeled because it’s politically convenient to do so."

Zell then said the problem is that all non-rich are just jealous that they don't have the same work ethic that the country's wealthiest do.

"The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1 percent. It should talk about emulating the 1 percent," he said. "The 1 percent work harder. The 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society."

Liu countered that the ever-widening gulf between the richest and poorest Americans must make it harder for those living under the poverty line to get ahead, no?

Nah, said Zell.

"Lots of people have come from nowhere and become part of the 1 percent," he said.

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