Government

'If You Had 50,000 Angry People Coming Across The River, You Think You're Safe?'

New York Magazine has a dynamite profile of billionaire Jeff Greene.

Excerpt:

"It's incredible, right?" shouts Jeff Greene over the roar of the two-seater dune buggy's motor. "It's 55 acres!" Still in his whites from this morning's tennis match, he's giving a personal tour of his Sag Harbor estate, barreling at 30 miles per hour through the vast forest of scrubby pines and soft moss of its gated grounds. ...

"There are all these people in this country who are just not participating in the American Dream at all," he says. This makes him uncomfortable, not least because they might try to take a piece of his. "Right now, for some bizarre reason, a lot of these people are supporting Republicans who want to cut taxes on the wealthy," he says. "At some point, if we keep doing this, their numbers are going to keep swelling, it won't be an Obama or a Romney. It will be a ­Hollande. A Chávez." ...

He and Mei-Sze plan on rebuilding as soon as they are done with their renovation in Palm Beach. He's not sure what he wants it to look like, but one thing is likely: The new property will have gates. "You're in Palm Beach, you're in the Hamptons, you think you're so secure," Greene says. "Do you really think if you had 50,000 angry people coming across the river, you think you're safe?"

Read the whole story.

For a counterpoint, check out Adam Davidson's recent profile of Ed Conard, who made hundreds of millions of dollars working in private equity:

Conard ... argues that the enormous and growing income inequality in the United States is not a sign that the system is rigged. On the contrary, Conard writes, it is a sign that our economy is working. And if we had a little more of it, then everyone, particularly the 99 percent, would be better off. ...

Conard understands that many believe that the U.S. economy currently serves the rich at the expense of everyone else. He contends that this is largely because most Americans don't know how the economy really works — that the superrich spend only a small portion of their wealth on personal comforts; most of their money is invested in productive businesses that make life better for everyone. "Most citizens are consumers, not investors," he told me during one of our long, occasionally contentious conversations. "They don't recognize the benefits to consumers that come from investment."

Read the whole story.

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