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Acktivism

Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on January 19, 2024

Aftershocks — second-order effects — can shake the ground far beyond the original shift in tectonic plates. Few predicted that an unprecedented increase in interest rates would turn mortgages into handcuffs and send housing prices skyrocketing. Or that mobile phones could facilitate a bank run. The earthquake of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel has caused devastating destruction and loss of life, on both sides. The aftershocks, including the presidents of Penn and Harvard resigning, may signal the beginning of the end of DEI on campuses. The media has focused on big and small issues, including antisemitism on campus and what qualifies as plagiarism. The real story? A: The steady shapeshifting of influence. An apex predator known as an activist investor has escaped its cage and is now attacking social issues. What happens to Harvard is a sideshow. Ackman’s billionaire tantrum represents a far more dangerous virus that has plagued humans throughout history: the concentration of power.

Plagiapalooza

After October 7, university responses to pro-Palestinian activity angered wealthy donors, including a hedge fund manager, Bill Ackman. Disastrous congressional testimony and revelations about citation inaccuracies by Harvard President Claudine Gay in her academic work led to her ouster. A few days later, Business Insider reported that Ackman’s wife, Neri Oxman, a former MIT professor, had similar citational inaccuracies in her dissertation. Oxman admitted to the mistakes and apologized. Business Insider then followed up with more examples, including 15 passages lifted from Wikipedia. Ackman demanded a retraction from fellow billionaire Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, and threatened a lawsuit. “Business Insider is toast,” he announced.

Shareholder Activism

Bill Ackman is an “activist investor.” Activist investing is what it sounds like: An investor acquires a stake in a company and gets “active,” i.e. influences the direction and strategy of the business, seeking to generate greater returns. A modern phenomenon that flowered in the 1980s is now an enduring force in the public markets.

A successful activist play can net billions of dollars, and an industry has evolved around the tactic. Lawyers specialize in the laws governing share purchase and disclosure, proxy solicitation (asking other shareholders to vote a certain way), and anti-takeover provisions (e.g. poison pills). PR firms specialize in the management of activist campaigns — a company called Institutional Shareholder Services (founded in 1985) makes recommendations on director slates. There are even private investigators who dig up dirt on management or activists, depending on who’s paying.

Successfully rattling the cage of a public company board and CEO requires a specific set of skills and attributes. Most activist investors possess three key traits. 1) Intelligence: Good activists see strengths/weaknesses the market is missing. After amassing a short position, Hindenburg revealed that Nikola was a fraud. Elliott is building a position in the underperforming Match Group, as it has a monopoly in online dating, minus the monopoly-like valuation. 2) Leadership: Every activist bid is a battle that requires significant financial and psychological commitment from the activist and their investors. And 3) Narcissism: Like influencers, activist investors crave attention. They know their actions make headlines, because takeover bids are corporate violence.

I have some domain expertise/insight here as from 2003 to 2008 I raised over $1 billion and spearheaded several activist campaigns. My investors and I became large shareholders at United Retail, Sharper Image, Gateway Computer, and The New York Times Company, securing board seats at Gateway and NYT. I just read the last sentence and may be guilty of the weakest flex in the history of activism. But I digress.

Invasive Species

Activists assemble and deploy resources and skills to go directly to the consumer (i.e., the shareholder), bypassing the board. I believe Ackman sees the same opportunity with social issues. He’s trying to bypass lawmakers and university governance, going straight to the media and other donors to “unlock” change. University management has been an interest of his throughout his life — his undergraduate thesis was about Ivy League admissions — but despite two degrees from and millions in donations to Harvard, he’s never had the kind of influence there that he’s experienced over the past few months, when he brought down the president herself. At some point during that fight, it dawned on him that what he was doing on evenings and weekends is what he does during the day.

Twitterhea

In addition, he’s eaten from the same rancid fruit plate as another billionaire and has also come down with severe Twitterhea. It’s likely most everything you know about Ackman you learned against your will. He also missed this verse in the Bible, Matthew 7:1-3: For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. And Business Insider highlighting Oxman’s citation inaccuracies was no more antisemitic than Claudine Gay’s firing was racist. Ackman and Gay’s reactions reveal a surprising lack of self-awareness; they’re more focused on their egos than the causes they claim to be waging war against. Their hollow bellows of bigotry are a distraction from real injustice. Ackman, Gay, and Elon Musk are the same person: entitled rich kids who look out the window and see themselves, crediting their character and grit for their success and bad actors for their shortcomings.

Step One: Attack the Media

Ackman isn’t the first billionaire to go after a media organization he dislikes. The go-to when advocating for a transfer of power from an institution is to fulminate against any check on (your) power or hypocrisy. Can’t answer the question? No problem — mis-direct and attack the organization holding you accountable. Also, don’t trust scientists, academics, or even data. Urge people to trust their feelings, unencumbered by logic or data, as that’s where they’ll find “your” truth.

Tech venture capitalist Peter Thiel put Gawker out of business for outing him as gay, and Musk bought Twitter when he disagreed with the platform’s moderation policies. Trump started his own social media platform, and Andreessen Horowitz cosplays media with the sole charge of protecting the firm’s virtuous portfolio from other media.

Ackman’s Midtown jihad against Business Insider is doomed and foolish. He has not disputed any facts in the stories about his wife; rather, his complaint is that BI’s reporters had improper “motivations.” There’s no First Amendment carve-out for “bad intentions” where the facts are accurate. The activist playbook is based on applying pressure in excess of any objective measure of power through public condemnation, lawfare, and the judicious use of allies.

We are seeing in real time an ecological transition — predators are breaking free from the enclosures of decorum, media scrutiny, and even law, and scaring the shit out of institutions. Institutions who believed boards or decorum would save them from this aggression. CEOs, and now institutions, were wrong.

Direct to Consumer

The very wealthy have always had more influence over the world than other people, but it’s typically been exercised indirectly through intermediaries — taking politicians and Supreme Court justices on hunting trips, hiring lobbyists, or paying for ad campaigns to influence political races or referendums. Even Thiel’s attack on Gawker was a proxy war, funding another celebrity’s lawsuit (Hulk Hogan).

As our political institutions have become ineffectual (the current Congress is setting records for inaction), billionaires are filling the void, bypassing the middleman. In the 1990s major consumer brands were frustrated with poor execution and tired strategy in the retail channel, so they went direct to consumer and built their own stores, catalogs, and e-commerce sites. Ackman represents the same trend in policymaking: taking his campaign public, demanding resignations or policy changes, and now asking independent media to bend the knee.

We will witness evermore brazen displays of wealth power as skills and experience drawn from activist investing are applied to other areas. Controlling a university will be the next step for the billionaire who has everything. Why settle for having your name on the side of a building when you can control what happens inside? If you can take over a company, against the current management’s will (once unthinkable), or intimidate a media outlet, what’s to stop you from seizing Dartmouth, the First Amendment, an election board, or even the DOJ? Musk’s takeover of Twitter isn’t the pursuit of free speech, but its defenestration.

Mammoth

The emergence of activist billionaires is a function of our decreasing support for public institutions and the mammoth shift in wealth (power) from public to private hands. When the top tax bracket was 90%, private wealth was limited, and government was empowered to put people on the moon and cure smallpox. As we’ve freed the mega wealthy from the obligation to fund the state, the state has withered. When we next set foot on the moon, the feat will be accomplished mainly via privately funded infrastructure, likely built by two of the wealthiest men in history, Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Innovators

There’s a silver lining here. Private enterprises are generally more entrepreneurial, efficient, and agile, so they move faster than public projects. A private SpaceX rocket can blow up and spray debris over protected wetlands with little consequence other than bad PR and maybe a trivial fine — the price of progress. If a NASA astronaut takes an unauthorized souvenir on a mission, they face Senate hearings. Planting the Stars and Stripes on our Luna is meaningful, but it required close to 5% of our national budget. Now space spending has plummeted to 0.5%, and billionaires have filled the void. In theory that means we have more funds for roads and defense, while Bezos bets on the moonshots.

Clotting

But that silver lining highlights a large, dark cloud. It’s great that Jeff Bezos wants to use his Amazon “winnings” to build the next generation of space infrastructure, but should the wealthiest nation be dependent on the vision and generosity of its strangest billionaires to determine our priorities? An odd, drug-addled billionaire could just as easily decide his cash is better spent building a social media network to platform white supremacists or people who traffic in the misery of murdered children’s parents.

Ackman claims to be a warrior fighting antisemitism, but he’s gazed into the ketamine heart of another billionaire and decided his antisemitism is … not antisemitism. Billionaire owners of media companies stand behind their outlets until another billionaire doesn’t like an article and demands a review of the journalism. As with blood clots, like people and ideas cluster — and nothing clots faster than billionaires.

Billionaires are humans, and thus, not to be trusted. Humans need guardrails, because we are temperamental, short-sighted creatures. We are irrationally suspicious of those different from us, and far too trusting of those like us. Daenerys Targaryen wanted to free the enslaved from their shackles. However, once armed with weapons of mass destruction (Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion), she became the oppressor. It’s the natural order — power corrupts. When in history has one person’s unchecked, unilateral control of a large army not ended poorly?

Democracy is fundamentally a recognition of the weaknesses of the individual. It is a system designed to take power out of any one person’s hands. By shifting wealth to individuals, we have shifted nation-state power to individuals, which is undemocratic and dangerous. The cause is pedestrian: low taxes. We need a different nomenclature. We should rebrand “taxes” as “guardrails.” A progressive tax structure is a healthy dispersion of power. The massive reduction in the top tax rate is a concerted decision to clot power.

What If?

What’s next feels obvious to me. We have a man who could soon be a trillionaire as he builds powerful enterprises with weak governance (e.g., publicly demanding his board give him an additional $70 billion or he will abscond with the firm’s IP). What if he garnered a 9% return on this capital, and decided to assemble a militia that would be better resourced than the Russian army ($84 billion in 2022 spend). What if this army was buttressed by 51% of the world’s satellites, an army of tens of millions of sycophants, and control of a global media platform? What if this person had already demonstrated a willingness to turn on/off key battlefield technologies and developed an addiction to a dissociative anesthetic that has hallucinogenic effects? What if?

Life is so rich,

P.S. We discussed my investing strategy for 2024 on Prof G Markets this week. Listen here.

P.P.S. Section has released a series of custom GPT bots in the GPT Store. Check out the Executive Feedback Simulator, then read their post on how to build one yourself.

Comments

63 Comments

  1. B Mani says:

    We all pick up what we want to from your/any article. Personally, kudos on having the balls to flag the fake cloak of anti-Semitism/racism that Ackerman and Gay have draped around themselves, to the detriment of those really suffering the consequences of it.
    “Their hollow bellows of bigotry are a distraction from real injustice. Ackman, Gay, and Elon Musk are the same person: entitled rich kids who look out the window and see themselves, crediting their character and grit for their success and bad actors for their shortcomings.”.
    Nail on the head, Prof..

  2. bartb says:

    As venting goes, I’d say you hit 100% in this post. Ease up, guy. Remember when Mike Bloomberg spent $1.1 billion of his own money running for president? Yes, billionaires … got to love them!

  3. Joe Cunningham says:

    Hi, Longtime listener and I appreciate the insights. I was having drinks the other night with a person from a group that manages money for charities (and yes they charge more than your usual 2%. It was brought to my attention what I am terming the “charity industrial complex.” I am shocked at how many heads of nonprofit organizations are making a million plus dollars. Quite simply the rest of society has plug the hole created by the tax shield. My view, if you can pay someone $1,000,000 you can pay taxes as an organization, no matter what your perceived good you think you’re doing. At some point, it becomes about the money. I find the whole thing disgusting and worthy of an investigation / legistation. Also, the groups that rank charities are worth comparing to US News college ranking. The fix is in! The whole system seems a corrupt cesspool worth of your time, insights, and energy.

  4. Tommy Ahsan says:

    It’s funny. I was at a watch party for ufc and asked, “what if you capped off capitalism at $100 million. Once you make it, you get a gold star and you help your friends or loved ones get to that number if you’re billionaire inclined.” I watched my friend group, a group of 6 dudes from all walks and shapes of life animatedly argue with me, for the right to be a billionaire. I told them having that much money is gross and they agreed but they still wanted to fight for the right of a select few to have it all, despite the fact it will never be them. But the distant, distant hope it could be them keeps them coming back for more. Men are so dumb. When will we learn billionaires are spoiled little boys who didn’t get hugs from their mom.

  5. Packyderm says:

    A bunch of ad hominem without addressing Ackman’s point, i.e., that DEI is being used as a cudgel to drive out diversity of viewpoint and enforce the ideology that accompanies identity politics. There is a reason Harvard ranked LAST in the FIRE rankings for freedom of speech universities. News flash for Scott: alums have always spoken with money, even if it only concerns the football team. Ackman is onto something far more nefarious that needs to be fixed. There’s a reason the most important job of a college president is fund raising. Money talks, bull walks, and he who pays the piper calls the tune. Don’t like capitalism? There are plenty of places where you can go to find fellow travelers.

  6. Bill Kombol says:

    Scott, as many others have commented, this article is quite partisan. Activists do all sorts of mischief, but only one, who helps oust an extremely unqualified Harvard president gets called out. So higher taxes on richer individuals are the answer? Other than a rather large clan of redistributive Democrats there is no political appetite for such a policy. If you taxed away all the wealth of billionaires living in the U.S., the government could operate for less than nine months. Surely Scott, you know that to finance government you have to tax the vast middle class.

  7. RB says:

    Scott, I hope you read the comments – keep going. We need to keep pushing to shine light which I hope will drive change.

    I see there are some daggers in these comments for the perspective voiced in this newsletter, but this post reaffirmed my hope that folks like Scott on a big scale, and folks like me on a local scale, can shine light on the (broken) systems at work, and hopefully show people that ‘we’, the collective need to take action before things go too far. Some could argue things already have…

    I continue to assert – when we have tough problems locally, and people are their most animated and upset, if we get a plurality (or better) of people in a room (or a ballot box) and vote based on the facts, ‘we’ the collective make good decisions. And not decisions that I always agree with. That is the beauty of democracy. This never works out online too. Need to get folks into a 3rd place for good things to manifest.

    We are forgetting so much of the institutional knowledge we acquired over hundreds and thousands of years of human history – both triumphs, and colossal mistakes. Elon Musk is the modern-day Howard Hughes ; doing as he pleases with his immense wealth as he descends into insanity. What really got my attention in the post is the amount of hard-power Musk has amassed already, and the suggestion that with a few chess moves, he could be a world military power. That shit needs to stop now. “WE” need to stop that.

  8. Mark White says:

    The corpocracy is not today. And yes, to use your term, “clotting”, it is natural that they would do this. Self-interest has always been ‘righteous’.

  9. Jo says:

    That Scott can write an article about activist billionaires without one mention of George Soros & son tells us everything we need to know. Scott please climb out of your echo chamber, your partisan bias is preventing you from thinking clearly.

  10. Nathan says:

    I kind of expected better than just another partisan blogspam.

  11. John Crane says:

    Hi, Prof G, always enjoy your content and analysis, but must note that at times your political leanings overshadow your selected data points and analytics. 2 points to note on this piece. 1) the problem that Musk identified and exposed with Twitter wasn’t “moderation” but censorship….deliberate and systematic, and directed by the current administration. Not my opinion…fact. Courts have agreed, and 2 very respected journalists (both previously Democrats) published extensively on this. Odd you haven’t taken issue with this very blatant First Amendment violation by those who claim to be “protecting democracy”. 2) Notable among billionaires you did NOT mention was Mr. Gates, whose influence and actions are at least as noteworthy (and far more troubling) than those you did mention. We have an individual with no medical training, credentials, or experience dictating health policies globally….purely by weight of billions funneled to the right agencies and often in ways which in turn profit him. Data has by now made obvious to anyone paying attention that not only was the latest mandated medical intervention neither “safe” nor “effective” the aftermath has seen dramatic rise in all cause mortality, incidence of “turbo” cancers, and a rash of “unexplained” deaths…including among young, health adults. This seems far more troubling to me than Harvard’s DEI policies facing some pressure.

  12. Michael says:

    Let me start by saying, I’m a committed fan of yours.BUT, OMG you’ve crossed the hypocritical position of everything that you try to do as a social activist, who has multiple podcasts a week and attempt to influence peoples views and outcomes by informing people of your views. You’re able to get in the room with most of corporate America, because of your success. That success is measured in both financial and professional achievements. On a different side of the same academic institutional Coin, you argue for restructuring institutions, who are operated like gangsters in light of their restricted admissions, ridiculous tuitionss and bloated endowments. Now criticizing and others for doing what you attempt to do just because they got 1000 X more coin in their pocket than you do.

  13. Paul P says:

    Hyperbolic wealth concentration for sociopaths will accelerate the collapse of civilization before the cascading tipping points. Who is benefiting from dissent about Gaza? Putin and Iran. They and Xi are the true apex predators feeding on the gore as the ultra rich bleed us peasants and our fragile experiment in democracy. Musk and Bezos dreams of spaceships filled with cheerleaders are like wanting Dominos pizza while there’s sushi on the table. Autocrats will start suffering from high window syndrome once enough people realize we’ve been using knives in what is actually a gun fight. What if Elon starts producing drones?

  14. Emanuele Cagnoni says:

    There are just two distinctive traits that are a clear mark between who is writing and all the others. Envy and cinism.

  15. LR says:

    It suddenly dawned on me that you might just be jealous that Musk’s activist takeover of Twitter succeeded where yours failed.

    I don’t like the guy, but really, he’s going to build a militia? America has a long history of quelling seditious movements, and much as it is easy enough to get an AR15, the kind of armaments necessary for a real rebellion today are forbidden by law, and the US govt. would threaten to pull their own contracts with the companies that would dare sell to someone they don’t like.

    • SEAN WHYTE says:

      Donny T and his band of boneheads have already demonstrated what they are capable of….and don’t look now, but he’s tricked them all again, into thinking he actually cares about them. Combine these two simpletons and what is NOT possible ?

  16. C Cook says:

    Gay is inept and incompetent. Harvard, others blatant in their favoring of radical Islam, and allowing of harassment and even physical assaults on Jewish students. Smacks of Berlin 1930s.
    I would expect left media to defend Gay, they are not smart enough to say other than what they are paid to. I would expect better from you, Scott. The frontal assault on Harvard by your ‘billionaire’ cohort is both fair and necessary. He and others contribute millions, and now can see how their money has turned Harvard into a hot mess. Academia has lost all connection to real America. While us, the ‘uneducated’ are suppose to follow the rule of law and be neutral to race, religion, and sexual orientation, academia has no such constraints. Ackman is standing up for what he, and millions of others, believe is right. The only defense of the academics is to drag his wife into the debate, clearly a last ditch effect.

    Harvard grads will find their degrees tainted. Current students may question the commitment to fairness and democratic principles. All because of the incompetence of one woman. And, her defense by people who sold out to a basic level of morality years ago, Other schools will fall, the ball is rolling on the DEI scam.

  17. Vijay Balakrishnan says:

    Prof G is right on the money. We had Occupy Wall Street which fizzled away without monetary support. Then we had the Tea party rise up in revolt of the Politicians sucking their Billionaire’s nipples. When do we have the Coffee party come out of the Democratic party to say “enough is enough.Pay your taxes and wealth built on the backs of the infrastructure laid out by the common man’s taxes”

    • C Cook says:

      Hate to break the news, but the Democratic Party is funded by those Wall St billionaire you are attacking.
      The 1960s are history, the Dems are not ‘for the people’ unless those people are billionaires. Woke/Left who want to ‘save the earth’ drive 3 ton SUVs and $100K EVs. Fly private jets. The leaders of the DNC in Congress are all multi-millionaires coming out. Even Liz Warren is worth north of $60M. How did that happen? Follow the billionaires and their money. And thank the DNC.

  18. Howard Falcon says:

    The issue that needs to be discussed is, was Ackman right in withholding donations or was Gay right in her lack of leadership responsibilities, (was the cause and effect morally acceptable)? What would be deemed more acceptable, actions taken by the wealthy or mob rule comprised of intitled and easily motivated to accept anything described as socially unacceptable by those with motives that are erroneously driven by false ideologies. The effect of a lot of problems that occur today are born in our inability to govern for the people without providing special incentives to those that govern us. I don’t know what the answer is when those that have the wealth to control anything get out of hand and I’m sure the only thing that can bring them down would be their inability to continue to have financial backers which may include those in the government that support them in many ways, perhaps a corrupt government supports those that increase their ability gain more power ya think.

  19. John says:

    When in history has one person’s unchecked, unilateral control of a large army not ended poorly? When George Washington became general of the continental army.

  20. Oleg Feldgajer says:

    Thank you! A sobering encapsulation and a terrifying look at narcissistic pissing matches between the entitled elites. You have raised a well-overdue alarm on a dangerous shift in public policies and a slew of unintended consequences that are not trivial and very dangerous…

    It was also quite refreshing to watch the recent movie “Dumb Money” as it brought back the memory of several posts I wrote about the manipulative nature of short-selling and naked short-selling “en masse.” And unfortunately, this is how so many of the pathological hedge fund managers come to money and power by exploiting unsuspecting investors…

    When are we going to smarten up and free the North American markets from the shenanigans of short-sellers? It’s time to reverse the biggest mistake of the past and to make share buybacks and short selling illegal! Otherwise, we keep allowing the short sellers and manipulative hedge funds to send a fake message of a “greatly improved” measure of profitability, or zero in on bogus and “terrible” performance figures.

    Is this the best we can do? Why do we have to allow greedy speculators to play into speculators’ hands? Before 1982, share buybacks were considered illegal and treated as market manipulation by the SEC. There is enough evidence 40 years later that tinkering with SEC rules didn’t work. So, pull the plug! “You want it darker – We kill the flame” – Leonard Cohen…

  21. Steve T says:

    Curious if you would classify Soros as an activist investor and if you see the same damage being done albeit by a different approach.

  22. Beatrice B. says:

    Ackman is a prime example of what a recent article from The Nation calls a “crybully”. Crybullies don’t just demand that people kowtow to them – they also demand that we feel sorry for them when things don’t go their way and use us as a therapeutic sounding board via social media. Others like him are TFG and Musk.

  23. Andrew Ward says:

    Hi Scott – Your podcast last Thursday was powerful to say the least, particularly were you spoke at the end. Keep up the great work

  24. Kent says:

    More government. That was a joke to see if we are paying attention, right?

  25. Buckles says:

    More government. That was a joke to see if we are paying attention, right?

  26. Jay Bee says:

    What’s the diference between a billionaire controlling areas that can change lives than an elected politician given a four year term, like Biden or Trump, or for that matter a 25 year term a la Putin?

  27. Harrison Price says:

    Wow – this week we have avowed atheist Scott quoting the Bible to make his point. Hmm.

    He goes on at length with a diatribe about Ackman being an activist investor, turning his activism on academia. What about activist educators, like Claudine Gay? She was hired for being black and fired for being slack. Ackman called her out for being an empress with no clothes and properly so.

    But Ackman is the bad guy? The guy who puts his money where mouth is?

    Scott – how much money have you sent to – or withheld from – Harvard? Capital speaks; hot air just leaks . . . .

    • Max says:

      “He also missed this verse in the Bible, Matthew 7:1-3: For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

      It’s beyond insulting to insinuate an Ashkenazi Jew should get his values from the New Testament. Do better, Prof G. You’re better than this.

  28. Richard McCue says:

    The ultimate end of letting the billionaires take power is that they will seize the monopoly of violence. At best we get an oligarchy with democratic decoration as in the Roman Republic. Your crack about Elon echoes Crasus’ famous line: ‘no man can call himself rich until he can raise his own army’. Crasus, Pompey, and Caesar, plunged the Republic into Civil War. Crassus died on the field in the East leading an army in a little bit of conquest. Pompey had his head taken off for use as a present for Caesar. It was Caesar who won, Caesar who at his funeral would pay out 300 sesterces (call it 90 days of of a legionaries pay) to all the citizens in Rome. But then huge wealth inequality, freedom from taxes for the richest, widespread despair in the masses were the conditions of the Terror of the French Revolution.

  29. Ryan Skinner says:

    You draw a very long bow when you suggest Bill or Elon are going to militarise, your personal issues with Elon are affecting your objectivity. The only reason they have support, especially around ousting Harvard’s President is because it was the right and noble thing to do.

  30. Richard says:

    Read ‘Bill Ackman Is a Brilliant Fictional Character ‘ By Kurt Andersen in the Atlantic. Add this to Scott’s peerless critique and one can sense the harbinger of a dramatic social re-alignment.

    • Mark says:

      Anderson’s piece is brilliant. Absolutely eviscerates the massive, completely self-unaware, and hypocritcal metastacized ego that is Ackman.

  31. Johns says:

    We need to be clear that “Pro-Palestinian” does NOT equate to Anti-Semitism. This is where the dialog breaks down.

    • John says:

      But Pro-Palestinian does equate to anti-semitism.

    • Howard says:

      Pro-Palestinian not only is Anti- Semitism it reflects its sole purpose of annihilation of a race of people.

    • LR says:

      Yeah, we know: they moved on to saying “anti-Zionist” now, because those old “push the Jews into the sea” quotes and the “Jewish boycott” (yes, that is literally what happened in the Arab world half a century ago) haven’t aged well.

      It still is however marginally acceptable to hate people on the basis of their nationality, hence, you can ask a “pro Palestinian” person what they think the rightful boundaries of Israel should be, and get nothing but evasion until they finally admit it shouldn’t exist.

      Yes, the Overton window takes a little time to move, and Ackman is a bit dopey and petulant about his wife, but I am confident that decency will win out the day eventually.

  32. Mary Nance says:

    Important thinking. Any way you would consider publishing this in an outlet that would get the attention of more readers, such as a national daily or a journal like the Atlantic?

    • Reed says:

      Just another iteration of the leftist argument that wealth inequality is the world’s biggest problem.

  33. SomePerverted NotionOfLiberty says:

    Speaking of antisemitism, what was the deal with those bizarre secret underground tunnels at the Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights New York that were littered with baby chairs and stained mattresses?

    Why did they immediately fill the tunnels up with concrete once they were caught (Destroying a crime scene?)

    Notice how that story broke and then quickly just disappeared.

  34. Jim says:

    I like how you completely ignore what those university presidents did and didn’t say, and how you always pull Elon back into the conversation.

  35. Rick says:

    Another characteristic; and 4) Extreme love of money, personal greed for short-term gains in stock pricing and flipping debt to the subsequent owners.
    It’s not done for altruism.

  36. james shannon says:

    Is it possible to quantify how much, if any, the federal tax rate cuts since 1982 have contributed to the deficit in today’s dollars? I assume this question has many qualifiers, but hope there is some measure of underfunding and/or of tax funding. Thanks.

  37. Dan says:

    You forgot to put ‘Jewish’ before wealthy:

    “After October 7, university responses to pro-Palestinian activity angered ‘JEWISH’ wealthy donors, including a hedge fund manager, Bill Ackman.”

  38. james mcglynn says:

    I was waiting for you to scold Harvard et. al. for not paying more taxes and increasing enrollment. It will be interesting to see if any underperforming universities get “acquired” by activist billionaires- sort of like a SPAC- buy a free-standing university and run it traditionally (i.e. anti-woke). You compiled a list of underperforming universities that could be acquired. Genius!

  39. Jon carson says:

    This message is so needed. No billionaires are NOT smarter than others. No they didn’t do it all by themselves (daddy left Ackman a pretty big fortune).

    The biggest problem is they surround themselves with yes men/women so no guardrails from worst impulses.

    The fix- tax ‘em and (long shot) turn down their dough.

  40. John says:

    Jesus. Guess you’re trying to ruin my weekend. Nice analysis.

  41. Kniffen says:

    Income taxes in 1951 (when we had that 90% top marginal rate) were 13% of GDP. Social insurance revenues were 1% of GDP, for a total of 14%. Today (with the top rate at 37%) income taxes are 10% of GDP, but social insurance revenues are 6%, for a total of 16% of GDP. So, it isn’t how much we are collecting that has starved NASA, it is where we decided to spend what we collected.

  42. Phillip says:

    My sentiments exactly. Tax the rich just like they did when Eisenhower was president. You’re a beautiful soul Scott, just love you.

  43. Sharon says:

    THis just scared me. But then again, the robber barons of the previous 150 years ago had enormous wealth too, but that ultimately got diluted in the next couple of generations. These folks eventually die, and the heirs just spend it. And Estate Tax may be part of the answer.

  44. Dan Delion says:

    Scott, shame on you for diminishing the antisemitism battle that Ackman is trying to fight, due to his wife’s issues. I agree Ackman is stepping over the line with Business Insider, but puh-lease, you focus way too much on him and therefore dilute the true point you’re trying to make wrt the Musk issue which is so much more legitimate and worthy of true media attention. You messed up today.

  45. SomePerverted NotionOfLiberty says:

    Our ancestors fought World Wars against communism only for their children to grown up Fake and Claudine Gay

  46. Chabo says:

    In your step 1 of attacking the media, do you think it’s not right for someone to fight against media that is clearly targeted? Business Insider took an opportunity to target Ackman for clicks (and maybe spite but we don’t know that). If he has the means and resources, is it wrong for him to fight back?

    Same think with Gawker. Maybe Thiel didn’t want his sexuality made public, so he fought back. If you pick a battle then be ready for the fight.

  47. John G says:

    Bill Ackman is more dangerous than Hamas…quite a hot take

    • Jeffrey says:

      Yes, Galloway aided antisemitism by selecting a poor example. Nothing like sacrificing one’s own to make a point.

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