It’s not easy working in private equity. First, you have to contend with kiss-ass underlings wanting “face time” pitching their latest money-making scheme. Then you have to deal with continuous media coverage deriding you for how much more money you make than everyone else. Really, can’t a private equity manager exist in at least semi-gold-dipped peace?
Even attending a conference is not as fun as it once was. The Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst Conference was awash with protestors at noon today by members of the Working Families Party and ACORN waving signs that read “Why does David Rubenstein pay taxes at a lower rate than an NYPD officer?” and “Why do New York state pensioners see risk while David Rubenstein sees profits?”
A revolution, some revolutionary once said, is not a tea party. Apparently, this time a revolution is a semi-snarky sign with a rhetorical question. We asked our editor in chief to comment on this question because he was the only sober person in the room.
“Don’t those types of people get paid by the hour?” Carney said. “If they’ve got time to protest, they’re clearly getting paid too much.”
It’s hard not to notice the irony that private equity has attracted its very own protest movement just at its eclipse. The owl of Minerva flies at happy hour. Note to the forces of the poor: you’re too late! The golden age of private equity is so fifteen minutes ago.
The Poors To Protest New York’s Richest At Waldorf-Astoria At Noon [Gawker]
Read the press release after the jump
ACORN/WORKING FAMILIES PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
September 19, 2007
Working Families Party, ACORN Rally New Yorkers Against Buyout Firms at Private Equity Conference
Campaign Against Buyout Billionaires Hits Conference While Carlyle Group Takeover King Rubenstein Delivers Speech
September 19, 2007 – Angered by the trillion-dollar buyout industry’s treatment of workers and the inequitable tax breaks corporate takeover giants receive, a new coalition of New York labor and community organizations rallied at a private equity conference at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel today where the Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein was a featured speaker.
The New York-based coalition led by the Working Families Party and the New York chapter of the national community organizing group ACORN, blasted buyout industry executives for saddling regular New Yorkers with an unfair tax burden while engaging in risky debt-fueled investments that have put New Yorkers’ retirement funds at risk.
Armed with signs that asked “Why does David Rubenstein pay taxes at a lower rate than an NYPD officer?” and “Why do New York state pensioners see risk while David Rubenstein sees profits?” protesters also converged on the annual Private Equity Analyst Conference, protesting outside while Rubinstein delivered the keynote speech.
During the demonstration, a truck with a large mounted billboard circled the block with an ad picturing a hotel doorman asking, “Why does Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein pay taxes at a lower rate than this guy?”
“The Carlyle Group is the poster child for an industry that has made billions by fleecing taxpayers and loading up companies with unsustainable levels of debt,” said Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party. The Carlyle Group is one of the five biggest buyout firms in the nation. Carlyle partner Bruce Rosenblum chairs the buyout industry’s lobbying arm, the Private Equity Council—Washington, D.C.’s most outspoken defender of tax breaks enjoyed by buyout firms and their partners.
“David Rubenstein made $260 million last year, yet he paid taxes at a lower rate than the doorman at this hotel. Not only that, companies like Carlyle don’t pay their fair share in corporate taxes.” said Pat Boone, President of NY ACORN.
“What does this mean to your average New Yorker?” asked Boone. “Plenty. The takeover industry’s tax dodges increase the tax burden on the rest of us while undercutting vital public services like schools, healthcare and affordable housing.”
The coalition noted that regular New Yorkers have less to spend on taxes these days. Between 2002 and 2005, median rents increased almost 10 percent across the city, while the average household income actually dropped by more than 6 percent.
Labor leaders blasted Carlyle and other takeover titans for engaging in investment strategies that have caused instability in the credit market and put the retirement savings of small investors at risk. A number of huge takeover deals negotiated during rosier market conditions are pending, with tens of billions of dollars in debt awaiting financing. The collapse of even one of these mega-deals could spook the market, triggering a potential downturn.
Leaders of the new coalition also took the buyout industry to task for its poor treatment of workers.
”For years, companies like Carlyle have profited by cutting wages and benefits and laying off workers,” said Adrianne Shropshire, Executive Director of the New York chapter of Jobs With Justice, a national coalition of labor unions, clergy and community groups. Shropshire noted that 6,000 workers have been laid off at businesses acquired by Carlyle in the past year alone.
Leaders of the coalition plan to call on New York’s Congressional delegation as well as local and state elected officials to enact reforms that will ensure that the buyout industry treats their workers fairly and plays by the same rules as other tax-paying Americans.
The coalition includes community groups from across New York, including Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Here & Now, Jobs With Justice and Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, among others.
The Working Families Party is New York’s third largest political party—a grassroots, community and labor-based group with chapters throughout the state. The WFP injects the issues of working-class, middle-class, and poor people into the public debate, and holds candidates and elected officials accountable on those issues.
NY ACORN is the New York branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now—the nation’s largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities.
For more info, go to: http://thinkaboutprivateequity.blogspot.com/