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GE CEO & Obama 'Jobs Czar' Jeffery Immelt Sympathizes With Occupy Protesters


"I think we have to be empathetic and understand"

Sympathy from public figures for the Occupy Wherever protests continues to grow. Now you can add Jeffery Immelt, the General Electric CEO who some call Obama's "jobs czar," to that list.

“Unemployment is 9.1 percent. Underemployment is much higher than that, particularly among young people that don't have a college degree,” he told Reuters in an interview Monday. “It is natural to assume that people are angry, and I think we have to be empathetic and understand that people are not feeling great.”

Immelt, who heads Obama's jobs council and has been tasked with boosting employment numbers, continued: "The discrepancy [between CEO pay and the rest of American] is certainly one of the problems today in terms of why people feel the system is unfair."

And maybe he's speaking from experience. Consider that he “received $15.2 million in compensation last year.”

Still, don't expect him to take a hit in his paycheck to make things "fair." He reasons that away by saying, "If CEO pay goes way down and unemployment is 12 percent, people are still going to feel bad."

"It is a symptom but it is not the problem," he concluded.

The point is not so much that he is apparently failing as a jobs czar or that he is a wealthy man bemoaning income discrepancy. It's that he and the administration he works with are both in a position to do something about the unemployment numbers, but instead they resort to symbolic rhetoric and pointing fingers.

At one point during the Reuters interview, it seemed that he even shifted the blame for high unemployment to U.S. businesses when he said, "We're not trying that hard" on exports (something he believes that, if boosted, could help "tackle the stubbornly high unemployment").

"We haven't really tried as hard as we can to compete, educate and sell our products around the world, and I think we can do better," he said.

Despite all of these points, and much like when billionaireGeorge Soros extended his support for the OWS movement, don't expect the protesters to publicly reject what appears to many as hollow sympathy.

It seems that they're preoccupied with something more important: chasing "corrupt" FOX reporters out of their demonstrations.

(H/T Business Insider)

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