Insight on what growing business was like when he started, with Mario Gabelli, GAMCO Investors, Inc. chairman/CEO/CIO, who weighs in on Occupy Wall Street protesters and the need for businesses to get back to being competitive.
here to discuss the italian — because he is italian, mario gabelli, chief investment officer — you’re italian, right? in milan where i was two weeks ago, they consider me american. in new york, they consider me italian. i guess you do, too. no, because we’re talking — this is the first time we’ve ever had something, you know, where we have the italian tanking and mario gabelli. you’re not here because — i’m here because i’m a big fan of yours. and i’m a big fan of yours. and becky. but not in that order. thanks. you were recently in italy. so that’s — lewe were in london and then went to mill on and geneva and then back to new york and las vegas and then we were in washington, d.c. when they had the snowstorm and then we were in san francisco for the schwab conference and then we were in dallas on tuesday of last week. do you know john zuccotti? i met him over the years. but a long time ago. people wanted me to mention that his father was an immigrant and became a waiter and became head waiter. put his son through school and his son became this huge success. like the perfect american success story. it’s being repeated in many parts of this country. that’s the place for the occupy wall street. you have to go somewhere, joe. bowling green, it is a little chilly. that would be less — is there an occupy bowling green? absolutely. why not? it is a beautiful park. they can be there with — that’s a public park? you can make it that. you’re suggesting? why not? where would you want to go? this doesn’t disrupt businesses. if you have to be with nature when nature calls, you’re out there in the park. i think bowling park — i assume the same rules apply, right? of course. one to five — listen, who says the rules can’t be changed? where is it written? do you sympathize with the protesters? in what regard? i believe free speech is very important. in 1965 i helped organize one. do you believe what the — i guess the movement behind occupy wall street, the idea that there is — look, what joe started talking about about the vision of this country and the ability to have free markets and the rule of law. that’s escaping some of these people. there is no question that, you know, we have to have a vision. there is also a sense of frustration. right. i graduated from school, i have tuition. i want to work. am i a maker or taker? you you this have thought about that when you majored in english lit. there’s a lot of very talented individuals that jau undergrad had. basically, the notion of going back and reengineering yourself to earn an economic return is fundamental. how do you make a living? how do you pay your expenses? and how do you grow? how do you create a vision for your grandchildren? do you want your grandchildren to migrate to brazil? do you want them to migrate to china? that was in a piece over the weekend. i can’t remember if it was the new york times. it might have been about a lot of the key values seem to be missing from the whole attitude of the protesters. and that is achievement, hard work, aspirational things. it’s more of a gimme. you have, i want. no. on the other side of the notion of being able to protest in the free society. no one’s ever disagreed with. that. agreed. no one ever said they don’t support the right of the protesters. i don’t think it’s necessarily just a gimme argument. i think it is the system doesn’t work, therefore, the system needs to be changed so that i can get something from it. i think that’s — you don’t think that’s what they’re saying? i think in some ways it’s the opposite. from my point of view, if you have a vision that your grandchildren are going to be more successful than your children and you want to work to that goal and you’re willing to work 24 hours, seven days a week. when i started my firm, nobody came to me from government n 27 years of saying can i help — 35 years now, can i help you create jobs? can i help you be more successful and compete against the firm that’s are starting up in england or starting up in frankfurt or in hong kong? so the question is how do we do it ourselves and look to ourselves and then become competitive? i mean if it hadn’t deteriorated into just an us versus them as versus have notes, if they were still talking about the powerful lobbying groups that allow corporate interests and crony capitalism to exist and allow wall street — the risks to be subsidized by the taxpayer and heads you win, tails we lose. if they wrote that down, i’m fine. i’m with them on a lot of that. that is covering everything. now it’s people that want to smoke pot and have sex. everybody loves protests, andrew. i told you this. i wanted — you just missed the ’60s. in the ’70s, i told you, we had to close down folsom road at university of colorado. we needed to close it down. it was hazardous to cross the streets. we fuinally did. it was no longer part of the campus. we put a dumpster in and signs and i had hair and everything else. you still have hair. that’s good. but you make an important point. i want to go back and point it out. i think it may get lost on some people. there are issues that i think are totally fair. it is not been vocalized very well. private risk was subsidized by — it certainly hasn’t been vocalized. they will be. they’ll migrate towards more central issues. and they’ll look on them as sleeper cell as cross the country and then ignited. and i mean bloomberg two months before the protests started he looked at greece an he looked at what was happening in parts of, you know, across the atlantic with austerity and with people with high unemployment and people not living as well as they would like, he said that is probably going to come here. it’s not that different than we’re seeing globally, is it? i mean are you surprised that someone got an idea maybe we should do that here? because we have austerity? we’re going to have austerity here as well? you think it’s fundamentally different in greece and italy? no, i think it’s very much the same. but as i’ve said — then it’s not our system that is making the greeks mad. it’s their system? it’s not our flawed system of capitalism here? it’s the flawed system of — look, i’ve gone down to zuccotti park. i report on it. you’re so scared of these people. they don’t like you. i told you, i said this before. i’m not sure this is really a story about wall street so much as it’s a larger story about economic inequality. and so many of these people are students who graduated from college with $30,000 loans and don’t have a job and say you know what? for whatever reason this isn’t working. the system that we construct doesn’t work. and i think there’s truth to that. there’s truth to it because there was a global financial crisis that caused a lot of people to either not have a job or — i mean there is global economic inequality. go to subsa hharian africa. if we can make shurt rules are enforce sod that — i mean can you enforce a quality in rules. you can’t enforce or legislate equality in — you can’t enforce equality of outcome, right? no. but the question is have the rules been enforced? and wa and was it done fairly? where? in — financial crisis. right. with the financial crisis. if you purely look at the way public risk — or private risk was — even if you, look, becky was with warren buffett yesterday and he talks about the haves and the have nots. it has happened. but when i ask him the easiest way to get rid of the wealth disparity that’s grown over the last 30 years, anyone with $100 million, why not have them — 20%, boom. 20% we want. you think about buffet. and you think about as a place holder for that group, who is giving the money back to health care? who’s giving the money back — i was at a fupd raind-raiser last for breast cancer research. what they’re doing in the next generation of scientists is very important. they say it’s not enough. well — if you have $500 million then you gived 50dz million back to science, you still have $450 million. and the other $50 million will be taxed through this, okay? and why is america losing competitiveness? how much expenses are taxes for corporations? just like the article — what is that? death and taxes? this is an article in a local magazine, the wall street journal. it says people are fleeing because of taxes. think about businesses. they’re doing the same thing. when you’re running a business, where are you going to locate to become effective in terms of total costs? what about your litigation costs? what about unintended consequences of regulation? what about the notion of taxes here versus taxes in hong kong? where are you going to locate a business? we have to focus on the fundamentals of manufacturing and get back to being competitive, taxes, regulation, visibility three to five years. you heard this from many others. i’ll just echo what everyone is talking b i want to have 100% depressi depreciation for three years, not one year. i don’t want a short term fix. this argument has been — this is the ’30s whether people wrote about this. and europe chose — they want to have equal outcomes for everyone. does it seem like it worked over there in terms of being much more concerned with — i guess people would argue there is less income disparity over there and a lot nor government evolved. they’re still protesting over there. is that system broken too? no, but look at cuba as an example. finally people are allowed to have their own homes and they have we willth in their homes. they allowed them to trade cars. and so the notion of when you had adam smith and carl marks fighting it out and what happened? such an old argument. maybe we went — it’s like a profound new way of thinking. we’re not here to talk about politics but sex.