Reuters caused a stir today with a story that proposed a tendentious link between Occupy Wall Street and the right's favorite liberal billionaire bogeyman George Soros, who had supported a group that supported a group that supports Occupy Wall Street. But if you want to find rich people who are lending their support to the anti-banker protest movement -- beyond the devoted celebrities -- there are plenty of rich people who have come out on their side.
The son of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway director gave Occupy Wall Street his nod on Wednesday. At a conference in Des Moines, Buffett defended the protesters because "I think it takes that to make things happen sometimes." He added, "we saw large corporations really screw people" over the past 15 years. "There has never been a larger gap between earnings in this country." So says the son of America's second richest man, who to his has been outspoken about tax reform lately.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit
At his own Wednesday event, Citigroup's chief executive acknowledged some shortcomings in the financial system at Fortune breakfast and and said the Occupy Wall Street protesters complaints are "completely understandable." Pandit, owner of a $17.9 million apartment on the Upper West Side, addded, "Trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that is Wall Street's job, to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust." He said he'd be willing to talk to the protesters: "I'd talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible finance … I'd be happy to talk to them any time they want to come up."
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink
Fink, the founder and chief of the world's largest asset manager, offered a similar "I understand" statement about the protests last week. "The protesting is a statement the future is very clouded for a lot of people," said Fink according to Bloomberg. "These are not lazy people sitting around looking for something to do. We have people losing hope and they're going into the street, whether it's justified or not." He continued, "People are afraid of the future … We have some structural issues we have to fix."
It's just as easy to write off the above Wall Street-types as disingenuous as it is for those ultra-rich people to say supportive things. However, Wonkette and some other blogs pointed out this woman, who actually showed up at the protest and offered some honesty. Like a lot of the folks featured on the "We are the 99 percent" Tumblr, we don't know who she is or whether her story is true. But at least she's being candid about the fact that even rich people are aware of some injustices taking place. In case you're having trouble reading her sign:
I inherited money at 21. I have had health and dental insurance all my life. I want to live in a world where we all have enough. I have more than enough. Tax me! Rich kid for redistribution.
I am the 1%
I stand with the 99%