Gene Simmons Wishes Poor People Were Nicer to Him
Gene Simmons has made a career out of embracing wealth as passionately as any rock star on the planet, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that economic inequality isn't one of his biggest concerns. But just in case you were wondering what the Kiss co-founder thinks about our current concentration of wealth among America's top earners, he weighed in on the subject -- with typical Simmons bluntness -- during a recent interview.
Speaking with the San Diego Union-Tribune in advance of Kiss' July 6 tour stop in Chula Vista, Calif., Simmons boastfully claimed that his net worth puts him in the top one percent of Americans, and enthusiastically described life in his tax bracket as "fantastic." It isn't perfect, however -- as Simmons quickly pointed out, when you're as rich as he is, you have to live with the knowledge that poor people don't appreciate you as much as they should. "The one percent pays 80 percent of all taxes. Fifty percent of the population of the U.S. pays no taxes," he argued. "The one percent provides all the jobs for everybody else. If the one percent didn’t exist, there would be chaos and the American economy would drop dead. Try being nice to rich people. I don’t remember the last poor person who gave me a job."
It's definitely worth mentioning that some smart people have argued Simmons' numbers don't seem to have much basis in reality, but he's a bass player, not an economist, and as with any other Gene Simmons interview, the only fact that really matters is that Gene loves being Gene. "You know how I spell shameless? P-r-o-u-d," he continued. "People often confuse, at least in my estimation, my pride and self-confidence with arrogance. Because they are not used to people who have an in-your-face, 'take it or leave it/this is how I am' point of view. I'm more like an animal in the jungle that (urinates) on the ground and doesn't ask your permission. 'This is me, this is my territory.' It's simply defining who I am and what I stand for."
And at this point, anyone who asks Simmons a question and expects anything other than a me-first response is just asking for disappointment. "Others simply hold their opinions to themselves and never say who they are you. You will always know who I am," he pointed out. "You don't have to like it; that's OK if you don't."
But for all of his one-percent boasting, Simmons did manage to make room for a little bit of real talk about the stuff that truly matters. "It’s a good thing to take note of the small pleasures in life. If you can appreciate them, you have it figured out," he mused. "It’s true I can buy planes, mansions and all that stuff. But if you don’t appreciate getting up in the morning and having a muffin with jam on it -- just smear it on there, with some cream cheese! -- and coffee, and some quiet time … if you don’t appreciate the little stuff, you won’t appreciate the big. I’m what’s considered rich. But if you don’t appreciate the pennies, you can’t appreciate the dollars."
One assumes plenty of similar advice will be included in Simmons' upcoming book, 'Me, Inc.,' due in the fall. Described in the interview as "a how-to primer for aspiring entrepreneurs," the book promises what Simmons called "a kind of ‘Art of War,’ army-of-one life and business book, kind of like the ‘books for dummies.'" As he went on to explain, "I'm duly diligent. I do a better job of balancing my budget than the U.S. government does with its budget. America is in debt for almost $17 trillion. I've never been in debt. I've always had more money than I spent, which is Rule No. One, which is what I'll talk about in my book. You are your own business."