Stephen Schwarzman: another rich guy afflicted with POWDS

Source, Newsweek, by Jonathan Alter, 8/5/10: Schwarzman: ‘It’s a War’ Between Obama, Wall St.

I suppose I began to identify and diagnose POWDS, i.e., Post Obscene Wealth Derangement Syndrome, when in 2010 I read this quote from Stephen Schwarzman, whose comment (see below) was not only racist, it was dumb.

“Dumb,” as in the sort of dumb only obscenely rich men–or obscenely rich wanna-bes like Trump whose “wealth” I seriously doubt–display when they are so buffered by their wealth, they no longer have anything like basic commonsensical intelligence.

Very rich people do not usually encounter the sort of criticism that causes the rest of us to think about facts, and re-think our positions once we have them. That is, to grow intellectually.

Most of us, in other words, have both brains and, just in case something is askew in the brain, a rigorous backup system called a superego that watches over our vocal emissions.

Not so obscenely rich people. They say whatever they are thinking.

You’ll read below what Stephen Schwarzman said that caused a lot of people to raise their eyebrows.

I did more than that. Because Schwarzman, like his cohort David Koch vis Lincoln Center, slapped $100 million in the outstretched palms of the New York Public Library and thus bought having his name on the main branch, I do not give any money to the New York Public Library. Pay heed, New York Public Library! I use you, visit you, am grateful for what you give us all, but until Schwarzman’s name comes off the building, you won’t be getting a donation from me.

Obscenely rich men throughout history have coughed up bucks to buy indulgences for their many, many sins from the Vatican. Nowadays they buy their way into whatever they now regard as heaven. Which seems to be highly progressive, deeply cultured New York City. (Glad to hear it. Not glad to have you enter my society.)

Here’s what Schwarzman said (my highlight) that got him the POWDS diagnosis:

President Obama and the business community have been at odds for months. But in July the chairman and cofounder of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, amped up the rhetoric. Stephen Schwarzman—the leading John McCain supporter in a firm that, in 2008, gave more money to Obama—was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose. “It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

Attendees at the board meeting (who provided details on condition that they and the organization not be identified) were shocked. “War? Hitler? Poland? A little over the top for a proposal to make hedge-fund managers pay their fair share in taxes,” one attendee says about the comments.

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