‘Shark Tank’ host Kevin O’Leary on extreme income inequality: ‘It’s fantastic’
An investor who hosts the reality show “Shark Tank” said “it’s fantastic” that the world’s 85 richest people hold as much wealth as its 3.5 billion poorest people.
The international relief organization Oxfam issued a new report this week that found the richest 1 percent in the world controlled about $110 trillion in wealth, or 65 times more than the world’s poorest half.
Venture capitalist and television personality Kevin O’Leary said Monday during an episode of the Canadian Broadcast Company’s “The Land and O’Leary Exchange” that this disparity didn’t bother him at all.
“It’s fantastic, and this is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the 1 percent and say, ‘I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top,’” O’Leary said.
“This is fantastic news, and of course I’m going to applaud it,” O’Leary said. “What can be wrong with this?”
His co-host, Amanda Lang, seemed astonished. “Really?” she asked.
“Yes, really,” O’Leary said. “I celebrate capitalism.”
Lang asked if he honestly believed that someone living in Africa and making about $1 a day could realistically aspire to one day be as wealthy as Bill Gates.
“That’s the motivation everybody needs,” O’Leary said.
Lang sarcastically suggested that the only thing that keeps that hypothetical African from becoming one of the world’s richest people was motivation.
“I just need to pull up my socks,” she said, speaking as that hypothetical impoverished person. “Oh, wait, I don’t have socks!”
O’Leary responded by saying he was “not against charity.”
While Oxfam’s report conceded that some wealth inequality could serve as a motivator, the organization warned that extreme levels of wealth concentration threatens to shut out hundreds of millions of people from the global economy.
O’Leary, a Canadian businessman, also hosts CBC’s “Dragons’ Den,” in addition to his work for the ABC reality show that matches up entrepreneurs with potential investors.
He likes to say that his primary interest in life is making money and that he’d fire his own mother to keep his cash flow positive.
“I’m hard-core right wing, slightly right of Attila the Hun, and I believe that money solves a lot of problems in life,” O’Leary said.
Watch this video of the exchange posted online by Matt Hudson:
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]