Once upon a time you wanted to be a musician. You saw the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan,” heard the catchy tunes, saw the screaming girls, and said…I WANT TO DO THAT!

No longer.

No one’s got tunes that catchy, hell, do you really want to be Pharrell singing “Happy”? And the lifestyle of musicians pales with respect to those with real money, the bankers.

What do the bankers make? What do they do? I could explain it to you, but I wouldn’t have to kill you after imparting this wisdom, for you’d be asleep, or your eyes would have glazed over, because that’s just how interesting banking and buying and selling corporations is. Although you do make a ton of money, more money than most people can calculate.

Yes, Stephen A. Schwartzman, a household name if I’ve ever heard one, made $375 million last year. Leon D. Black, of that famous band Apollo, did just a little bit better, $546.3 million. Oh, of course they’ve got all those road expenses, the stage, the roadies, the private jets… No, there are no expenses, and if perhaps there are, their clients pay them, and according to a story in the “New York Times,” their investors pay expenses that don’t even exist. It’s kind of like the band charging you ten bucks a month for years after you saw them at the Garden or Staples. But you don’t bitch, because you had the privilege of being at the show.


I’m a smart guy. We can debate how much is DNA and how much is a result of Jewish family push. But all I knew from the moment I stepped onto the school ground was I was going to college, I told my kindergarten friends I was going to be a lawyer, because that’s what was drummed into me by my dad. He wanted me to become a professional, he wanted not to worry about me after he was gone. Today professionals are chumps.

Yes, chumps.

That’s what the mainstream doesn’t understand. That the best and the brightest have no desire to ply the stage, to do creative work, to see their name in lights. They’re happy just cashing the check and making sure you can’t live in Manhattan, or have to park miles away from the lifts because they’ve bought up all the real estate at the ski area base.

So the rich get richer, and the poor stay dumb.

In other words, if I was graduating from college today, I wouldn’t go into the music business. And I’m not dumb enough to develop an app, or start some other long shot business. I’d do what the Ivy alumni do, go straight to where the money is, the banks. Isn’t that what Willie Sutton said, when asked why he robbed banks, he said “Because that’s where the money is!”

Money. It’s got economic consequences. Those with brains follow it. And those who have it are constantly shaving points, because that seems to be the nature of the human condition, enough is never enough, how can I make just a little bit more, especially if most people have no idea how I’m doing it.

In other words, if you’re a smart, hard-working person, you too are a chump. You work for a company that will lay you off on a whim and lose your pension with a shrug. They don’t care about you. Just ask your kid, done with college, sleeping on your couch, he knows the score.

But too many of these kids don’t go to college. And too many who do don’t get the memo. Sure, the degree might get you in the front door where someone else may not, but what is the house you’re entering?

And the point is our whole society has changed. Sure, some of these rich people give away some of their money, but on a percentage basis, much less than the poor and middle class. And their heirs will have this cash for eons, perpetuating a two class society. And if you don’t think the heirs of the rich are frequently do-nothing doofuses, you don’t know any.

But we’re not going to abolish banking and there will always be some people richer than others.

But we can have a discussion about it. How the fabric of our country is being ripped apart while we’re not watching. How ignorant musicians think that by getting a sponsor they’re ripping off the system, but truly, the joke is upon them.

If someone told me in college that their father was a stockbroker, that he worked on Wall Street, it meant that they made the same amount of money as a doctor. About 20k a year. And who’d want to do that gig anyway, commuting into the city.

But today all the hedge funds are in Fairfield County, and college is 60k a year. Who’s got that cash?

The rich bankers. Who can send their scions there, while you can’t.

Furthermore, all these elite institutions survive on their endowments, 60k doesn’t even cover the cost of a year of schooling, so they’re beholden to the bankers who control their money.

So America looks completely different from when I grew up.

Ronald Reagan legitimized greed, Michael Milken went to jail, but the end result is even worse. The American Dream is alive and well for a limited elite, and the rest of the public is too ignorant to understand how they make it.

And you can’t explain it to them. Because they don’t want to know. Because it eviscerates hope. When you tell them their track is not good enough you’re the doofus, because they’re going to prove you wrong, but they never do, all they’ve got is their willpower, and tell the VC that’s why you want a job at the firm, he’ll laugh you out of the office.

Snooki is already gone. As is Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian got married yesterday and it’s merely months before she’s toast. Because that’s what those famous for nothing do, they disappear. Some of the work of great musicians lasts, but try humming the last decade’s hits and then tell me they’re gonna be around in fifty years, like the Beatles’ songs, yeah, right.

But we’re lining up to sing on TV shows, as if the real winner weren’t Fox.

We’re bitching about streaming payouts when the problem is not Spotify, but the audience, that doesn’t want to pay fourteen dollars for a CD, never gonna happen, they’re broke and even though the dope-smoking musicians say they should be moral, ain’t that a laugh, they see everybody else breaking the rules so why shouldn’t they?

And no one wants to read about it, because it’s arcane and boring.

But when you go to buy a house. When you get a seven year loan to acquire a car. When you have a desire to do but your bank account says no… Then you know you’re living in the new America. One wherein the problem isn’t a government spending your money, but a government rigged to benefit the rich, which you voted to give them the power to do, all in the name of lower taxes…


“The Deal’s Done. But Not The Fees”: http://nyti.ms/1ihCzsy


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Category: Think Tank, Venture Capital

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7 Responses to “Private Equity”

  1. Due4AChange says:

    Love the Friday rant…no doubt that things have changed wrt to income disparity and not for the good.
    While at the end of the day, a person should be able to make as much as they can, the difference that those in banking/finance make is exponentially greater without the corresponding value to society. So much of the wealth in our economy is stuck in the top 1% where they cannot possibly spend enough for it to trickle down. While a rising tide lifts all boats, if one of the houses you own has a deep water dock for your mega yacht, what the heck do you care?

  2. 873450 says:

    We elect government to prevent/remedy terrible circumstances we cannot individually prevent/remedy.

    Beware of greedy leaders
    They take you where you should not go
    - George Harrison

    Unfortunately, commencing around 1980 we elected greed.


    Elizabeth Warren came face to face with the harsh political realities of Washington in a pair of 2010 White House meetings with President Obama.The first, according to her new memoir, was in the Oval Office. Obama told her that he dared not appoint her to head the consumer agency she created, because she made Senate Republicans and Wall Street bankers “very nervous.” A few weeks later, meeting outside for a chat that became as uncomfortable as the hot weather, Obama asked Warren to do the setup work for the consumer protection agency that she would not lead. When she resisted, Obama got testy. “You’re jamming me, Elizabeth,” Obama said. “He urged me not to overplay my hand,’’ she writes. “Got it.’’

    In April 2009, she writes, she received an invitation to dinner from Larry Summers, her former Harvard colleague who was one of the new president’s top economic advisers. Eventually, Summers leaned back in his chair and gave Warren some advice. “He teed it up this way: I had a choice. I could be an insider, or I could be an outsider,” Warren writes. Outsiders could say what they want, he told her, but people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders get more access to push their ideas to powerful people. “But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders,” Summers told Warren, she writes. “I had been warned.”

    Unfortunately, commencing 2008 we elected cowardice.

    Not much distinction between electing political greed and/or political cowardice – same outcome.

  3. theexpertisin says:

    Ronald Reagan legitimized greed? If this translates to expecting folks to work hard, be patriotic and ask not what your country can do for you, he was profoundly more effective as a leader than leftover, still bitter progressives think.

    His published diary further illustrates a practical intellectual depth on important issues of leadership that eludes our present CIC on an hourly basis.

    • Biffah Bacon says:

      Nothing more patriotic than negotiating with enemy governments before you are even elected, then continuing that relationship with the same and other foreign enemy governments in exchange for hostages, to sell weapons and military equipment to trade for cocaine to sell in the inner city to fund the sale of more military equipment to some other insurgent group. October Surprise to Iran Contra to crack to AIDS to Just Say No to Jean Dixon giving foreign policy advice to a sitting demented president.

      California! Uber Alles!

    • 873450 says:

      Reagan didn’t “legitimize” greed. That scarecrow is your false construct set up to knock down.

      Hard Work
      Personally like Bush #2, Reagan spoke all the time about hard work, but isn’t by any measure recognized for being a hard work. He constantly fell asleep during cabinet meetings, conferences, public events, etc. Until Bush #2, he held the record for taking more vacation time and extended weekend retreats than any prior POTUS.

      Policy wise, Reagan rewarded wealth and punished work. During a primary debate his future VP, Bush #1, famously branded his predictions that slashing the top tax rate from 70% to 50% would increase revenues and instill trickle-down prosperity “voodoo economics” that would blow up budget deficits. He was right Deficits exploded and trickle-down never happened. A chart posted on TBP last week revealed that virtually all Fed gas tax hikes (more than 450% total) taking place during the past half-century were implemented 1984-92 by Reagan-Bush #1. – Progressive tax cuts for 1% paid for by regressive tax increases punishing commuters.

      Testifying before Congress as president of the Screen Actors Guild during the late 40’s-early 50’s Red Scare, Reagan waxed eloquent about free speech and 1st Amendment, assuring Congress there was no communist threat coming from his organization. Secretly for years under FBI registered code name T-10, he was a government informant against his constituents, identifying actors he thought might be socialists and/or communist sympathizers. Scores of blacklisted actors trusting Reagan to defend them against the witch hunt never worked again. A few SAG members he represented were driven to suicide. Would they have continued voting for him if they knew he was a rat? (Google search — “reagan t-10 FBI” — more than 3.9 million returns) It’s a wonder FOX and GOP can’t understand why Hollywood doesn’t buy-in to their Saint Ron canonization scheme.

      Management Wizard:
      After denying it for months and then claiming he couldn’t remember anything about it, Reagan admitted liability and accepted responsibility for negotiating with terrorists and promoting terrorism. He sold missiles to Iran in exchange for hostages released by terrorists, then deployed the illegal weapons sale proceeds to fund an illegal CIA war in Nicaragua sponsoring “freedom fighting” terrorists carrying out mass civilian executions, violent overthrow of an elected government and assassination of an elected president. – All impeachable offenses specifically prohibited by recent Congressional legislation responding to Reagan publicly supporting terrorists in Nicaragua. While remembering enough to say Oliver North was a hero, Reagan could not recall why he had a secret office in his White House or what work he did there. There were lots of high level resignations and lots of pardons. GOP had to replace his management team. What does Reagan’s diary record about Iran/Contra? Did he contemporaneously remember anything he could not publicly recall?

      “Ask not what your country can do for you.” – Wrong POTUS –That was JFK.

      Reagan was absolutely the greatest Hollywood optics POTUS: – hardworking lumberjack chopping wood at the ranch – super patriot shedding a tear on cue for TV cameras at Normandy – anti commie crusader angrily pointing at the collapsing Berlin Wall and demanding bankrupt Gorbachev tear it down.

      Your lazy history is drama from FOX Entertainment. It’s easy making things up. You need to work harder.

  4. kmcgrew says:

    I guess it is because I am a simple rube here in the Midwest, running a firm like BR, and don’t see the extravagant wealth on the East Coast, or don’t really care about the base of the mountain since I rarely get to Aspen anyway. Professionals as chumps? Really. There always have been and always will be a few people who get to the top and maybe stay there for generations. Most of this just sounds like a bitter rant. BTW, I was never a Beatles fan.

  5. Shredgar says:


    “In 1981, David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s budget director, invited the financial journalist William Greider to the White House and told him that the President’s controversial and far-reaching tax-cut package was a “Trojan horse” designed to reduce the top tax rates on the wealthy.”

    “You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Dick Cheney