'Fat Cat' Matt Whines 'Rich Get Richer'
Leave it to NBC's Today show to find the downside of a booming stock market. Playing the class envy card Today co-host Matt Lauer teased a story on a widening gap between rich and poor as he incredulously asked the audience: "Do you feel like you're working harder and harder these days just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer?" Lauer, not exactly a pauper himself, then threw it to CNBC's Scott Cohn who claimed: "Not only are the rich getting richer they're leaving everyone else behind. In fact the last time the rich were this much richer than everyone else was the Great Depression."
Cohn did mention the wealthy are giving more to charity but only highlighted liberal billionaire Bill Gates' good deeds.
The following is the full story as it occurred on the April 26th Today show:
Matt Lauer: "Do you feel like you're working harder and harder these days just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer? It's not just a feeling and you're not alone. The story now from CNBC's Scott Cohn."
[On screen headline: "Share the Wealth? The Rich Get Richer."]
Scott Cohn: "Richard David Story is feeling it. The editor-in-chief of American Express's magazine for its most elite card members. He's on a constant quest for the glitziest, glamorous. For an audience that just keeps wanting more."
Richard David Story, Departures magazine: "They're looking for that one perfect bottle of wine. They're looking for that one perfect not hotel room, not suite, that one perfect villa and they're extremely demanding right now."
Cohn: "They can afford to be with a record stock market and hedge funds creating a new crop of billionaires. But then there's the rest of us."
Man: "The rich do keep getting rich and the poor keep getting poorer."
Woman: "I can make ends meet but I have to think about it more."
Cohn: "Not only are the rich getting richer they're leaving everyone else behind. In fact the last time the rich were this much richer than everyone else was the Great Depression. A University of California study shows the top one percent of Americans now make 22 percent of the nation's income - their biggest piece of the pie since 1929. While middle-class Americans, by in large, are stuck. Rising energy prices cancelling out any increase in wages."
Robert Greenstein, Center On Budget and Policy Priorities: "It makes it harder to achieve the basics of the American dream for the millions of families that get up, work hard, play by the rules everyday."
Cohn: "Like a house. For all the talk of a slowdown the National Association of Realtors says homes are still less affordable as a percentage of family income than they were three years ago. Not that there's anything wrong with being rich and Richard David Story says he's writing more and more about the newest trend among the wealthy, philanthropy. Following the lead of billionaires like Bill Gates the rich getting so rich they have money to give away. For Today, Scott Cohn, NBC News, New York."
Update (Ken Shepherd | 15:22): Related post by Mark Finkelstein here.