It’s hard not to feel sorry for the rich. After all, it can’t be easy to swim in a pool of money, or to keep a yacht clean, or to stroll down red carpets all day, can it? So please, let’s give them all a break when they occasionally say outrageous things. Things like these:
AIG CEO: Anger over big bonuses "just as bad" as racist lynch mobs.
The CEO of the massive insurance company, Robert Benmosche, made that ill-advised comparison during a 2013 interview with the Wall Street Journal:
"The uproar over bonuses 'was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that -- sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.'"
Benmosche later described the metaphor as a "poor choice of words" in an email to The Huffington Post. For the record, more than 4,700 people were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, according to data made available by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Not a single high-level executive has been prosecuted for their role in the most devastating recession since the Great Depression.
Billionaire on Obama’s tax proposal: “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
Stephen Schwarzman, the founder of Blackstone, a wildly profitable private equity company, reportedly used this painful simile to describe a potential tax hike on struggling companies like his (just kidding, they were doing fine). But there's some good news: So far, no World War III!
Rush Limbaugh: “Some people are just born to be slaves.”
“You cannot guarantee that any two people will end up the same. And you can’t legislate it, and you can’t make it happen. You can try, under the guise of fairness and so forth, but some people are self-starters, and some people are born lazy. Some people are born victims. Some people are just born to be slaves.”
The Donald Trump of Canada on inequality: “It’s fantastic!”
Television personality Kevin O’Leary made the following comments about rising global income inequality earlier this year on his television show, “The Lang & O’Leary Exchange”:
“This is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the one percent and say, ‘I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top’.... This is fantastic news and of course I’m going to applaud it. What can be wrong with this?”
The Oxfam report O’Leary was so ecstatic about found that 85 people alone are worth as much as the bottom half of the world’s population and warned inequality was “inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown." But yeah, fantastic!
New York Times columnist David Brooks: Rich people’s success and poor people’s problems are not related.
Brooks -- who doesn't smoke weed any more and now owns a $4 million house -- recently explained for all the simpletons out there why this whole inequality thing isn’t really, like, the right thing to worry about:
"If you have a primitive zero-sum mentality then you assume growing affluence for the rich must somehow be causing the immobility of the poor, but, in reality, the two sets of problems are different, and it does no good to lump them together and call them 'inequality.'”
Income inequality has been found to hurt the economy, cause people to overspend, worsen economic mobility and make us more violent. But besides that, sure!
Super-rich venture capitalist: Doesn’t Occupy Wall Street sort of remind you of one of the most horrific nights in Nazi history?
Thomas Perkins, who was one of the founders of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, actually wrote this and then sent it to a major American newspaper:
"Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.' [...]
This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"
He joined Bloomberg TV to “apologize” soon after, but in the process of doing so went on a rant about his impressively expensive watch, because why not?
Richest person in Australia: Want to be rich? Stop smoking and drinking.
Gina Rinehart, who, it must be said, inherited millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in the form of a mining company and royalties, had this to say about all people who are angry about not being rich like her:
"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.”
We'll throw her a bone, however, and note that only a small percentage of the world’s millionaires inherited their stash, according to research cited by the Economist. So it's not the most wild thing to say, but whatever.
Billionaire: “Hitler punished the Jews. We can’t have punishing the ‘2% group’ right now.”
Having trouble following that train of thought? You’re not alone! But the comparison was made anyway by supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis while he was trying to become mayor of New York City -- a city, it should be noted, that is home to a million Jews.
Here are his complete comments:
“New York is for everybody; it’s for the poor, it’s for the middle-class, it’s for the wealthy. We can’t punish any one group and chase them away. We -- I mean, Hitler punished the Jews. We can’t have punishing the ‘2% group’ right now.”
Republican Representative’s anti-tax argument: “By the time I feed my family I have maybe $400,000 left over!”
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) joined MSNBC a few years back for a round of “taxing the rich kills jobs for everyone else.”
Except in the midst of doing so, he also revealed that, after he feeds his family (we’ll assume that’s a metaphor that includes more than food), he has only a couple hundred Gs left to blow. And that's not even ten times the median family income in this country! Just eight or so. Sad.
Paris Hilton: "What does that mean, 'soup kitchen'?"
"A soup kitchen, bread line, meal center or food kitchen is a place where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a below market price. Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteer organizations, such as church or community groups."
Supermodel Beverly Johnson on plastic surgery: “Everyone should have enough money to get it.”
This was said 20 years ago, yet still today not enough people have money for a new nose or whatever. In fact, nearly one-sixth of the nation relies on food stamps because they can’t even get enough to eat.
And of course, Mitt Romney: 47 percent of America is dependent upon government and believes they are entitled to food.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee never recovered from these comments, made during a private fundraiser for this campaign and attacking nearly half of the nation he hoped to run:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax."