February 6th, 2014
10:02 PM ET

Billionaire Sam Zell: "The one percent work harder"

Almost half of the world's wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, according to a recent Credit Suisse report.

How does that happen?

Well, Billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell thinks one percent just works harder.

"The 1 percent are getting pummeled because it's politically convenient to do so," Zell said. "The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1 percent, they should talk about emulating the 1 percent. The 1 percent work harder, the 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society."

Zell was responding to the now-infamous comments by venture capitalist Tom Perkins. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Perkins wrote:

"I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.'"

Perkins later apologized for comparing today's treatment of the wealthy to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

But he's still standing by his message of class warfare.

OutFront: Democratic Strategist Paul Begala and Conservative Columnist Reihan Salam.

Filed under: Economy • News
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. ohboy

    If hard work was the only requirement, more people would be better off. I am sick and tired of people saying just work hard and you will be rich.
    It's insulting that Mr. Zell feels like a victim when many of the people he says are attacking him are the same people who rents his apartments. Also, the 99% does contribute to the society because a greater portion of their earnings goes towards sales tax and good and services.
    In addition, Barron's magazine said 46% percent of wealth in America was inherited. Again, hard work is not the only prerequisite to building wealth.

    February 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  2. Joey at Purdue Univ

    "There’s lots of luck. Just being born in the United States in 1930 the odds were 30-to-1 against me. I didn’t have anything to do with picking the United States as I emerged. And having decent genes for certain things. I was sort of wired for capital allocation, and being wired for capital allocation two hundred years ago in Nebraska wouldn’t have meant a thing...

    "It didn't have to happen that way. If I had been born in 1913, if I'd have been born female, if I'd have been born black, I would not have had the same opportunities. It's just chance." (Warren Buffett, re: his success)

    February 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Reply
    • chrisnfolsom

      He kind of negates his right to all his riches by crediting chance – should you get more because of "chance"? Especially a million times more. Also, you may work harder, but a million times harder? It doesn't work. The only reason people can get rich – and keep it now is that we are "civilized". In the pas a good war or revolution would redistribute wealth – we are so civilized now we just let it aggregate in huge pools while others have nothing – and those at the top can talk about their "luck", their "genetics", their "intelligence" – it is crazy.... The ONLY reason you are able to keep what you make is the rules of the society you live in and the rules under it which either keep you under the heel of another boot, or allow you to earn endlessly -the only caveat is that you will die, and in the end your heirs will have advantages, the best schools, manager and such, but as "luck" is not consistent their money will disappear as a winning streak always passes when gambling – THAT is destiny.

      February 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  3. Greg

    From what i heard here is that screw the middle class and public education and anyone who works on salary and has to work more than 40 hours a week but only paid 40 hours a week....All these whinny rich jerks can give me there money and live the life of someone in the middle/lower class and then see what those 1% have to say.

    February 13, 2014 at 9:59 am | Reply
  4. Mel

    A rich person did not get rich by himself. A rich person needs workers to perform tasks to make him rich. I have no problem with someone being rich I just feel that they should reword those people who made them rich.

    February 8, 2014 at 11:13 am | Reply
  5. Betty

    Lets look at these one percent...who they are specifically, where they came from before turning billionaire and most importantly, where their initial capital investment money came from.

    February 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  6. deborad345


    What happens without regulations. What sort of working conditions were given to workers of the industrial 1800's? Complete freedom without regulations will only make life as a worker more dangerous. If there were no workers these rich would have nothing. It is the daily grind and hard work of the employees that actually make the money for those one percenters.

    February 7, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  7. Alvin Humphrey

    The SUCCESSFUL work harder!!

    February 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  8. chrisnfolsom

    The rich work hard – generally – that is not disputed. But the corollary argument that wages/profits/earnings are proportionally awarded based on how "hard" someone works is a bit ridiculous and disingenuous – and a bit disgusting. Given current trends we cannot keep going the way we are – something will happen whether dystopian or utopian is up to us.

    February 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  9. Sam Zell

    STFU Paul you maggot 99% need to work smarter not harder. Tired of you 99% union parasites.

    February 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  10. David Davidson

    This 1%'er needs to wake up and realize that the 99% are fed up with fact that the middle class in the US is disappearing rapidly, not because they're lazy, but because they've been sold out by our bought and paid for by the !% Congress and we're not going to sit back and let that continue to happen. Most of these billionaires are immoral, unethical tax dodgers, who use loopholes they paid for to "legally" not pay their fair share. Big changes are coming soon, so if I was Mr. Zell, I'd pack up and head for the hills before it's too late.

    February 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Reply

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