Real estate mogul Jeff Greene on why billionaires should take Occupy seriously

July 30, 2012 03:30PM

Billionaire real estate magnate Jeff Greene, it seems, has internalized Occupy Wall Street. Greene, who lives in Palm Beach and summers in the Hamptons, fears that if America doesn’t address some of its most entrenched inequalities, class rifts — even violent uprisings — are inevitable. Greene, profiled this week in New York magazine, worries aloud about the millions of uninsured, about the failing public schools, and about the lack of after-school programs that might help level the playing field for low-income American children.

“There are all these people in this country who are just not participating in the American dream at all,” he told New York magazine. “Right now, for some bizarre reason, a lot of these people are supporting Republicans who want to cut taxes on the wealthy. At some point, if we keep doing this, their numbers are going to keep swelling, it won’t be an Obama or a Romney. It will be a Hollande. A Chávez.”

He’s not exactly preaching to the choir of fellow billionaires — many of whom, he says, think that the Occupy Wall Street movement is a “disorganized joke.”

But Greene is taking the issue seriously, and he thinks that it would behoove other very wealthy individuals to do the same.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing,” he told New York Magazine, “we will build a class of poor people that will take over this country, and the country will not look like what it does today. It will be a different economy, rights, all that stuff will be different.”

These sentiments inspired Greene to run for the U.S. Senate last year, though his attempt was unsuccessful. [NYMag]