"I live my life paying my taxes and taking care of my responsibilities, and I'm a little surprised to find out that I'm an enemy of the state at this time in my life," he says.
He has a big, booming voice like an old-school billionaire, not one of those nerdy new billionaires.
"Has anyone said that to your face?" I ask him.
"Nobody has to," says Wayne. "Just watch what they're doing."
"You mean the Occupy Wall Street crowd?"
"Those guys are a bunch of jerks," Wayne mutters, giving a dismissive wave that says, They're just a sideshow. "Politically I'm on the enemy list. I've lived my whole life doing what I thought was right, and now I'm an enemy of the state."
He's on the enemy list, he thinks. He believes his children and grandchildren are under threat from you and me. He pays his taxes, which are of course too high. Above all, he can't comprehend why anyone would ever dislike anyone who spends millions of dollars on Karl Rove's Crossroads outfit. They're the good guys. It's the other 99% who are the problem.
Wayne says he never once stopped to contemplate the amount of money he was making. "I was just looking at getting the best locations I could and getting the buildings opened and getting the tenants and getting the cash flow and on and on," he says.
"You never once thought, 'This money is cascading in. I am worth 4 BILLION DOLLARS'?" I ask.
He shakes his head. "I don't spend any time at all thinking about my personal wealth. I suppose if I had nothing, I might think, 'I have nothing.' But when we decided to go public and I saw how much money there was, I was very surprised."
Just an ordinary guy. He's shocked he's worth billions. Not enough to give it up of course. But he's shocked that anyone would make a big deal about it. The problem in America isn't guys like me, he says. It's the rest of you lazy, worthless slobs.
Wayne's avuncular manner deserted him when he talked about what to do about the have-nots. "I remember an advertisement with an Indian in a canoe in a river," he said, "and tears are running down his face because he sees all the trash in the water, and he sees what's happening. That's how I feel about America. It's an emotional thing for me." He paused, and that's when he said, "I'm a little surprised to find out that I'm an enemy of the state at this time in my life. They talk about your 'fair share.' 'Are you paying your fair share?' Fair is in the eyes of the beholder." He paused. "I hope I don't come off like some big person...so conservative.... I believe in spreading it around, but I believe in doing it myself."
"So the trash in the river is higher taxes?" I asked.
"It's the idea of entitlement," he snapped. "That idea wasn't there in the history of this country. When the politicians said, 'Everybody is entitled to a house,' you saw what happened. And now you have 'Everybody is entitled to go to college.' Which is stupid! When I went to college, I had to drive a truck to pay. I had a partial scholarship, but I took care of myself."
"So you're saying everybody is entitled to college but should have to pay his or her own way?" I asked.
"Some people don't belong in college!" he said. "That should occur to you."
Some people don't belong in college. Wayne figures since he's the one paying the taxes, it should be up to him to decide. Going to have to pull up that ladder at some point, folks. And who does Wayne mean by "some people?"
Wayne talked to me about "derelicts on welfare" who check themselves into the hospital because they're "bored" and "want feeding," and "we're paying for all that activity." He said too much tax money is spent on "guys going to chiropractors, guys getting massages! On us! Give me a break. Guys getting Viagra!" He talked about "Los Angeles bus drivers who are on permanent stress leave because someone spat on them when they got on the bus, and now they're emotionally upside down. More than half the bus drivers are out on stress leave! Systems like that cannot work!" It seemed as if, for Wayne's philosophy to work, he needed to believe that those who don't make it deserve their ill fortune.
Later, I hunt for data that back up Wayne's feckless-bus-driver nightmare scenario. I can't find any. I do find something else, though—plenty of statistics showing that a guy with Wayne's level of wealth has never had it so good in America. And yet of all the people I interview, Wayne is the only one who seems angry about the politics of his situation...
It's really quite simple. The human mind has to rationalize that what that person is doing is good. Wayne does reveal that he does donate to charities, but he wants to perform those works of philanthropy in absolute secrecy. If people knew he donated, why everyone would want his money. That's all the unwashed care about. Wayne honestly believes he's doing good, that his money means he gets to make macro level decisions about American society, and that he above all should.
So he donates. He believes the worst about American society and its people, and anyone besides himself. The difference is he has the resources to do something about it. He believes taxes are wrong, because he's rich enough to decide where he wants his money to go to and wants to decide who is worthy, not the government. Everyone else? Well, he watches enough FOX News to be scared of the rabble. Above all, they're parasites on his family and his way of life.
And he's going to do something about them, dammit.