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When Rich People Whine

Chrystia Freeland writes about the bellyaching of the SuperRich in the latest edition of the New Yorker.  In it, some rich people think they can’t get no respect and Al Gore gives some really, REALLY bad advice:

In the letter, Cooperman argued that Obama has needlessly antagonized the rich by making comments that are hostile to economic success. The prose, rife with compound metaphors and righteous indignation, is a good reflection of Cooperman’s table talk. “The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them,” Cooperman wrote. “It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents.”

At the dinner, Al Gore was diplomatic when presented with the letter, and asked Cooperman if he would accept higher taxes. Cooperman said that he would—if he was treated with respect, and the government didn’t squander his money. Cooperman asked Gore what he thought the top marginal tax rate should be. Gore’s reply was noncommittal, but he pleased the group by suggesting that no matter who wins in November the victor should surround himself with advisers with experience in the private sector.

No, no more private sector advisors from the MBA management class.  They’re absolutely the last people who need to give more input.  Instead, the winner should solicit advice from people whose careers and industries have been wrecked by those private sector parasites.  At least get both sides of the story.

But it’s this bit that’s bound to get the most attention in the blogosphere:

During another conversation, Cooperman mentioned that over the weekend an acquaintance had come by to get some friendly advice on managing his personal finances. He was a seventy-two-year-old world-renowned cardiologist; his wife was one of the country’s experts in women’s medicine. Together, they had a net worth of around ten million dollars. “It was shocking how tight he was going to be in retirement,” Cooperman said. “He needed four hundred thousand dollars a year to live on. He had a home in Florida, a home in New Jersey. He had certain habits he wanted to continue to pursue.

“I’m just saying that it’s not an impressive amount of capital for two people that were leading physicians for their entire work life,” Cooperman went on. “You know, I lost more today than they spent a lifetime accumulating.”

Most of the people I worked with had more education under their belts than physicians, worked just as hard to make life saving discoveries and never dreamed of being able to sock away $10 million bucks.  The didn’t go into it to get rich but they still have to live in their retirement after working a lifetime in America where their vacation and leisure time is minute compared to the rest of the developed world.  I swear, these people won’t be satisfied until we agree to work for nothing and are grateful for it.

And what’s with this crap about how we need to treat Mr. Cooperman and his buddies with more respect?  WE’RE the ones who deserve more respect. Paying your taxes is not a favor.  It’s a responsibility. And if Cooperman gets to call the shots to make sure his money isn’t squandered, we should all have that same right.  No more expensive wars, no more faith based initiatives, no more oil subsidies and no more bank bailouts. Has Mr. Cooperman seen how the French show respect to selfish piggy rich people who sit on piles of cash?

That last gesture simulated a knife cutting open the throat.  The French have a history, you know.  They don’t fuck around.  We could learn a lot from the disrespectful French.

 

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13 Responses

  1. The scary part of the cardiologist story is: they probably were “a little light”, depending on how that $10 million was distributed (i.e., how much is tied up in non-income producing real estate, etc.) and how much of that $400k/year they really need to maintain the life they want.

    It’s one of the reasons why 401k plans are such a con.

    The rule of thumb for withdrawals has always been “no more than 4% of your retirement savings in the first year”. Given the low rate of return on savings now, it should probably be lower. You live in a place where $80k/year is a “middle class” income? Fine, you need (more than) $2 million on the day you retire. Forget about social security – they’re going to take that away from us just as soon as they can (like, right after the election, no matter which Republican ends up winning).

    On the bright side, life expectancies are dropping so you won’t have to worry about outliving your savings. ;-)

    • Wow! I’m going to have to sell a lot of rants.

    • At a high school reunion a few years ago an old friend tried to sell me on moving back to the old home town. “You can get a house for $40,000. You can get a crummy house for $20,000″. Maybe I will go back there at affordable retirment time.

      $400,000 per year to live on? Those people need a Revolution of Falling Expectation.

  2. Just last night, I was telling my husband that the French have a national consciousness of Madame Razor and how the people should treat elites who hog all the resources.
    When the citizens speak, the government listens.

  3. I don’t have a problem with two nationally known physicians in their late sixties or early seventies having a life savings of five million dollars each. The importance of that quote is that a man who does nothing but shuffle money can brag that he lost more in one day than they took a lifetime to accumulate.

    I also think that the president needs to have a lot of conversations with people in the public sector. The problem is that those people should include, equally, workers, small business people, academics, etc. Obama seems to only listen to Wall Streeters and the people who have screwed the taxpayer through public/private partnerships.

    Gore is no longer a public servant. He’s a businessman who thinks he needs Wall Street to keep his cable tv channel alive.

    • I don’t think any of us have a problem with two doctors making a ridiculously good living. But there are only so many hours in a day you can work and many people do difficult, challenging things without any expectation of a $10 million dollar nest egg. THEY deserve a decent retirement too. It doesn’t have to be $400,000 a year but it should include a house that’s paid off, medical coverage and spending money. That’s not too much to ask.

      • I agree about the spending money. I would go so far as to say that if I didn’t have to spend 1000 a month on health insurance that I would be rolling in the dough.

    • Good point about the two doctors. It is Cooperman and the Cooperman Class more than anyone who need to live out their retirement in crummy $20,000 houses.

  4. With $ 400,000 – not a year, just one time shot, I could live decently to the end of my life – and provide my daughter with the necessities of life.

  5. Wow. I’m gonna go find some cake and eat it.

  6. I have a dream.

    I dream of 50 million pairs of strong blue hands wrapped around Mr. Cooperman’s neck, crushing his economic windpipe all the way flat.

    I have a dream . . .

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