5 Wildly Offensive Comments and Actions by Rich Jerks
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“The poor we shall always have with us,” said the Bible, and lately there are more of the poor than ever—over 50 million at last count. But that doesn’t stop wealthy Americans from saying things that reek of insensitivity and callousness toward those less fortunate than themselves, which nowadays is pretty much everybody.
The lordly indifference of the fabulously wealthy has left us with a rich cornucopia of blithely cold-hearted remarks and actions. Which of these rich folks made the most some objectionable, offensive or downright heartless comments? See for yourself.
1. Mark Zuckerberg
The Facebook CEO recently launched a “super-PAC,” aka influence-peddling organization, to represent his interests and that of his fellow Silicon Valley billionaires. A number of them refused to join on moral and ethical grounds, however (good on ya, Vinod Khosla and Josh Miller), leaving only the more venal among them on Zuckerberg’s roster of supporters.
The super-Pac’s prospectus boasts that Zuckerberg and his fellow tech moguls have certain “tactical assets, including the fact that “We control massive distribution channels” and “We have individuals with a lot of money. If deployed properly this can have huge influence in the current campaign finance environment.”
In other words, “We can corrupt the political process even more than it already has been.”
During Facebook’s initial public offering, Zuckerberg made this claim in a letter to potential investors: “We expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through their intermediaries controlled by a select few.”
We now learn that Zuckerberg doesn’t have a problem with “intermediaries controlled by a select few” after all, as long he’s doing the selecting.
But then, that particular statement’s the least of Zuckerberg’s post-IPO worries. The Facebook IPO resulted in a rash of lawsuits against Facebook, a $10 million fine for the exchange that handled it, and a series of ongoing government investigations.
The super-PAC’s first initiative is supposed to be immigration reform. But the group’s been running ads and making other efforts to support a hard-right political agenda, directly and through subsidiaries called Americans for Conservative Action and Council for American Job Growth. One ad features conservative Republican Marco Rubio. Others oppose Obamacare and promote the environmentally destructive Keystone XL pipeline.
That’s not “disruptive,” to use a favored Silicon Valley term. It’s destructive. And it’s sleazebag politics as usual. That super-PAC prospectus also boasts that “Our voice carries a lot of weight because we are broadly popular with Americans,” but it’s been doing its best to change that.
Zuckerberg’s fond of saying “Move fast and break things.” Yeah—like democracy.
2. Peter Shih
Whatever his other faults, Zuckerberg chooses his public words pretty carefully. That’s not true of Zuckerberg wannabe Peter Shih. Shih’s recent product of tech incubator ycombinator makes him more of an incubating tycoon than a present-day one.
Listen to what Shih had to say in a recent blog rant against San Francisco. The post, titled " 10 Things I Hate About You: San Francisco Edition," managed to be profoundly offensive to … well, just read the excerpts yourself:
- “I hate how the weather here is like a woman who is constantly PMSing.”
- "I'm referring to all the girls who are obviously 4's and behave like they are 9's. Just because San Francisco has the worst Female to Male ratio in the known universe doesn’t give you the right to be a bitch all the time.”
- “Stop giving [homeless people] money, you know they just buy alcohol and drugs with it right?…. I'm seriously tempted to start fucking with people and pay for homeless guys to ride the Powell street cable cars in the middle of the day, that ought to get the city's attention.”
Shih also complains about “public transit being non-existent past midnight and the transvestite to taxi ratio being quite literally off the charts.” You can’t condemn a whole group of people because one person’s offensiveness is “off the charts.” But Shih is representative of the tech subculture, at least when it comes to some of its least flattering attributes – like excessive self-regard and the improper application of testosterone-fueled energy.