Pope Francis' critical comments about the wealthy and capitalism have at least one wealthy capitalist benefactor hesitant about giving financial support to one of the church's major fundraising projects.
At issue is an effort to raise $180 million for the restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York being spearheaded by billionaire Ken Langone, the investor known for founding Home Depot, among other things.
Langone told CNBC that one potential seven-figure donor is concerned about statements from the pope criticizing market economies as "exclusionary," urging the rich to give more to the poor and criticizing a "culture of prosperity" that leads some to become "incapable of feeling compassion for the poor."
Regarding your editorial "Censors on Campus" (Jan. 18): 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." [..]
From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent.
The chief executive of Goldman Sachs, which has attracted widespread media attention over the size of its staff bonuses, says he believes banks serve a social purpose and are "doing God's work."
"We're very important," Lloyd C. Blankfein said in an interview with The Times of London. "We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. [...] It's a virtuous cycle." He said that he understood, however, that people were angry with bankers' actions: "I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer." But he is, he told The Times, just a banker "doing God's work."
Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., defended the U.S. financial-company rescues of 2008 and told students that people in economic distress should "suck it in and cope."
"You should thank God" for bank bailouts, Munger said in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. "Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies."
AIG has a lengthy history of producing some of the biggest tools on Wall Street. Former CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg was considered one of the world's preeminent unapologetic narcissists even before he sued the government for providing an insufficiently generous bailout. Joe Cassano, former chief of AIG's financial products division, was another. First, he arrogantly blew off the accountants who warned him his portfolio of hundreds of billions in uncollateralized bets might destroy the world. Then, after it all went kablooey, he tiptoed back to D.C. (after first being assured of not being prosecuted, mind you) from his lavish four-story townhouse in London just long enough to tell the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that he had absolutely nothing to be sorry about and they could bite him and his hundreds of millions in earnings if they disagreed.
Now a third AIG executive enters the pantheon of tone-deaf AIG bigwigs: CEO Robert Benmosche, who just told the Wall Street Journal that the post-crash public outcry over the use of bailout money to pay bonuses to executives in Cassano's Financial Products unit was comparable to - get this - lynchings in the deep south. From reporter Leslie Scism's interview:
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."
If any of these people had the slightest predilection towards violence, they'd probably be rapists and murderers. Instead, with their primary focus on greed, they've lucked out that their cold hearts and lack of a soul is a perfect fit for one of the last lawless areas in American society: high finance. (The other one, of course, is politics.)
Banksters have something in common with violent sociopaths in that you don't need evidence of wrongdoing to see them for what they truly are, you just have to listen them for five minutes. Like many lunatics, many of these people are proud of what they are and want to defend what they've done, because not only don't they see anything wrong with it, they see it as virtuous.
Is it any wonder that billionaires who share none of the problems facing 99% of world's population would see complaints about their behavior and attitude as persecution and genocide? There's nothing worse to these people than taking away their money, not even ethnic cleansing, apparently. Sitting in a posh office all day dreaming up new scams that haven't been outlawed yet, and paying 14% on a four-billion-per-year fortune is doing "God's work", unless that work entails donating some of those billions to charity to help the poor, in which case they'll take their ball and go home unless the Pope blows smoke up their ass about what great saints they are.
And these morons wonder why people hate them? Amazing.