Ah, for the freedom of a billionaire environmentalist. Is there a more hypocritical, more protected species on this planet?
No matter how many times I see and write about one of these creatures spouting some crashingly sanctimonious Life Lesson he doesn't live by -- and getting away with it because he's ... well ... an environmentalist -- I'm blown away when it happens again.
Such was the case two weeks ago, when Everglades Foundation co-founder and chairman of the board Paul Tudor Jones II dropped $71.2 million on Casa Apava, one of Palm Beach's grandest estates (see photo below).
Here comes my favorite part: The purchase came a week after he delivered a speech in Canada railing against the 1 percent and warning of the dangers of a growing wealth gap in America. He called the situation "disastrous."
Hedge-fund trader Tudor Jones, 60, whose worth is estimated at $4.6 billion, told a TED audience that the gap between America's wealthiest and poorest would inevitably close "either through revolution, higher taxes, or wars."
"The gap between the 1 per cent and the rest of America, and between the U.S. and the rest of the world, cannot and will not persist, he said.
Now heres a macro forecast thats easy to make, and thats that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, it will get closed. History always does it. It typically happens in one of three ways either through revolution, higher taxes or wars. None of those are on my bucket list."
OK, I'm a big believer in capitalism. Work hard, enjoy the fruits, I say. But Paul Tudor Jones, whose environmental credentials in Florida give him a free pass no matter how preposterous his words or deeds -- a guy who could wear a grass skirt to a funeral and set a trend -- really goes off the deep end this time.
Why do I say this?
Because, while the billionaire was up North predicting the "strong possibility" of a mob of angry poor people revolting against America's economic inequality -- I mean, really threatening his life -- his agents were down in Palm Beach, in an areaknown as "Billionaires Row,"widening the wealth gap in Tudor Jones' name.
They were arranging the purchase of a historic seven-bedroom, 18-bathroom Mediterranean-style property built in 1918 that includes 420 feet of oceanfront access, plus a tennis court, movie theater, swimming pool and gym.
What if it had been just about any other non-environmentalist billionaire? How about Charles or David Koch? What if it had been the Kochs who made the wealth-gap speech while buying one of the swankiest, costliest properties in Florida? Free pass, do you think? If the Kochs pulled a stunt like that, the revolution might already have begun.
Still, Casa Apava is a good choice for any paranoid billionaire. He can easily make the place revolution-proof. Even with the ocean on one side, he still has plenty of room for a moat. Stock it with hungry sharks, top off the garage with a couple of gun turrets, maybe convert the pool into a below-ground bunker and you're good to go.
On the other hand, fellow billionaire and hedge funder Tom Steyer could get to him first. Steyer must be worried sick about his friend's chances with the rising tides in Palm Beach. It's an island on the climate-change endangered list. If mobs of angry poor people don't storm the Casa first, there's the Atlantic Ocean to worry about. Maybe he needs to invest in more boats.
You bet there's a wealth gap in America. But, as I've written before, in this country there's also a hypocrisy alert attendant to environmentalists with money. Don't ask me why. They're like all-you-can-eat buffets that run out of food while you're still eating. In Canada, Paul Tudor Jones left us at an empty buffet table.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith