While in Davos for the World Economic Forum, billionaire currency speculator and philanthropist George Soros took the time to sit down for a Reuters’ interview with Chrystia Freeland.
During the interview, Soros explains why there wouldn’t be much difference for Wall Street between President Obama and Mitt Romney. He also tells Chrystia Freeland why his billionaire counterparts see him as a “traitor to his class.”
“You were a very early supporter of President Barack Obama. What report card do you give him now?” Freeland asks.
“I think I’m not the only one who’s been slightly disappointed and I continue to support him, actually, in view of the alternative,” Soros replies.
“The Republicans or any particular Republican?”
“Well, look, either you’ll have an extremist conservative — be it Gingrich or Santorum — in which case I think it would make a big difference which of the two comes in,” Soros said.
“If it’s between Obama and Romney, there is all that much difference – except for the crowd that they bring with them. Romney would have to take Gingrich or Santorum as a Vice President and you’ll probably have some pretty extreme candidates for the Supreme Court. So that’s the downside.”
“And the other side, the Obama administration, is a bit exhausted, so it’s not all that strong. So it won’t be that great a difference and I think there won’t be a great deal of enthusiasm on either side of the battleground. It’ll be more civilized than the previous elections have been.”
“Or,” Soros adds, “you’ll have an extremist candidate then I think there’ll be a lot of emotion on both sides.”
The conversation then turns from discussing the possible Republican presidential nominee, to what Freeland believes is the major difference between former governor Romney and President Obama: the taxation of the “one percent.”
“That is the big difference,” Soros says, “And that has led my hedge fund community to abandon Obama in favor of any Republican because they don’t like to be taxed. I personally believe that when it comes to policy, you shouldn’t be pursuing self-interest, but the public interest. And I think that the income differentials are too wide and ought to be narrowed.”
“Are you one of Lenin’s ‘useful idiots’ in the view of your fellow hedge fund billionaires to be making this sort of argument?” Freeland asked.
“Well, I suppose so,” Soros says with a smile. “I’m a traitor to my class”
See the ReutersTV interview:
Two points should be made:
First, the term “useful idiot,” as Freeland notes, is commonly attributed to the Communist dictator Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. It’s normally used to describe Communist sympathizers in the West: “useful” because they advance Communist ideology, “idiots” because they contribute to their own downfall.
Did Freeland just accuse George Soros of sympathizing with Communist ideology — and he agreed?
Secondly, many critics doubt the sincerity of Soros’ “concern” with “income inequality.” In fact, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh claims that it’s all part of a self-preserving façade:
“Why? Why are all these rich guys all of a sudden so liberal? Buffett, Gates.” Folks, there’s a simple answer: The filthy rich will SAY they are liberal — they will do things in public that reflect that they might be liberal — to keep the peasants with the pitchforks away from ’em.
It’s all a game! Have you ever heard of a family called the Kennedys? Have you ever heard of a family called the Rockefellers? Every filthy rich individual or family must spout, support, do (in public) liberal stuff. It is how they convince people that their wealth is justified and is untouchable. It is a protection mechanism. It is to keep the Occupy Wall Street crowd off of their front yards and instead on the front yards of people that work at AIG. That’s all it is. And these filthy rich people who claim publicly and do in public liberal things are simply engaged in 100% acts of public relations. It accomplishes two things. It keeps the hordes away from you.
When the president comes up and suggests that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, they never say it about Buffett. Why? ‘Cause he says it about himself. “Yeah, Warren Buffett, he gets it! That’s absolutely right. Bill Gates, he gets it.” So, they’re left alone. The hordes, the peasants with the pitchforks never seek them out. The second thing that happens is that in many cases they end up being loved for it. The Kennedys were loved because it was thought that all they cared about was the poor, and the Kennedys never used their own money to fix any of this stuff. No liberal ever does. They always use everybody else’s. But that’s why they do this stuff. It’s pure public relations. It also justifies earning more. All you have to do is say, “I’m not paying enough!”
(H/T: The Atlantic Wire)