Robert Greenwald Wages War on Greed (The Nation)

Henry Kravis, founding partner in the private equity company KKR, made $450 million last year--that's $1.3 million per day, or $51,369 per hour. He did it largely by borrowing money to take over public companies, then selling off the company's assets to pay the debt, laying off thousands of workers, and slashing benefits for those who remained. (If you've seen Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, you know the drill.)

And for his efforts to move us closer to Gilded Age-like inequality, the government rewards Kravis by taxing most of his income at the 15 percent capital gains rate--one-half the rate paid by secretaries, teachers, firemen, and cops among others--instead of a 35 percent ordinary income rate. A gift from Congress to the private equity and hedge-funders who line their campaign coffers and pay lobbyists millions to maintain an unjust status quo.

I've written previously about this tax loophole travesty, and the fact that Democrats have taken a pass on rectifying it. Today, Robert Greenwald premiers the first in his War on Greed series of short films that will take on this outrage. He hopes to build momentum and pressure for change and, with that in mind, he's holding the film premiere outside of Kravis' 29-room penthouse on Park Avenue. (One of Kravis' five homes, this one features a wood-burning fireplace in every room but the kitchen.)

Take a look: here

Greenwald does a terrific and spirited job shining a light on this issue. As Andrew Ross Sorkin reports in the New York Times today, "The War on Greed, Starring the Homes of Henry Kravis, is a tongue-in-cheek story--think "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" meets "Roger & Me"--detailing Mr. Kravis's homes and lifestyle, juxtaposed against the homes and incomes of working families." An engineer interviewed in the film cuts to the heart of the fairness issue: "When I borrow money on a credit card, I'm rewarded with high interest payments, hidden fees, annual charges that could put me over the limit. It affects my credit negatively. When Henry Kravis borrows money, he gets rewarded with millions of dollars in tax breaks. And he ends up paying less in taxes percentage-wise than his maid. That's just not fair."

Greenwald is aiming to create an environment which mobilizes outrage in populist and intelligent ways, and makes these titans of greed and their money toxic. Look for the next three in this series of short films to feature interviews with workers around Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday; workers screwed by Kravis on Valentine's Day; and promoting actions to take around legislation to close the loophole, culminating with an April 15 demand to make the richest among us pay their fair share.