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Let’s take another peek [Lifestyles theme] into the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Cranky.”
The old rich pride themselves in … well, in having some pride. For example, they tend to set their venerable mansions behind tall walls and shrubs that discreetly obscure their wealth. It’s a matter of class. On the other hand, the new rich are more inclined to crassly flaunt their abundance, building garish houses that amount to neon signs screaming; “Look how rich I am, sucker!”
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How surprising then that one of the showiest of these look-at-me celebrities of wealth has gotten pouty about being featured in a movie that, after all, is about him. He’s Henry Kravis of Manhattan, South Hampton, and… well, so many places. In Henry’s life, everything is about him. He heads an eponymous Wall Street equity firm that essentially borrows money to take over corporations that other people built. To pay off his lenders, Kravis sells off whole chunks of the captured corporation. Then he fires thousands of workers, slashes the wages and benefits of those who remain, and pockets the savings for himself.
In days of yore, such predators were called pirates. But pirates could not have imagined the level of gold plundered by the likes of Kravis. How rich is he? In 2006, he made $51,400. Not for the year, of course. Nor for a month, a week… or even a day. Kravis hauled in $51,400 per hour, every hour of every day. That’s what $450 million a year comes to. He grabbed more in 30 minutes than many of his downsized workers make in a whole year.
Far from being discreet, Henry flaunts his piracy with luxurious homes and a lavish lifestyle. Indeed, that’s what the movie is about. It’s titled: “The War on Greed, Starring the Homes of Henry Kravis.” Henry hates the movie. But I’ll bet you’ll like it. Check it out at www.warongreed.org.
“A Movie and a Protest Single Out Henry Kravis,” The New York Times, December 6, 2007