Bill Perkins is one angry taxpayer. He's also a Houston-based venture capitalist who says he made a quick $1.25 million betting on stock market reaction to the government's proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout. He's using the money to fund a series of full-page cartoons in the New York Times the fourth runs Oct. 3 that rail against the bailout and peg President Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke as communists. Perkins, 39, talked to TIME about why he's mad and why he's still going to vote for bailout supporter Barack Obama.
Do you really think George Bush is a communist?
When you make everybody suffer for the benefit of a few, that's my vision of communism.
Why did you decide to spend $139,000 a piece on these ads? Did you feel
guilty that you had made money betting on the bailout?
I just felt like it was totally unfair that millions and millions of people were going to be on the hook for enriching people like me. I felt guilt and outrage and disgust all at the same time.
So you think we should just let the banks fail? You don't think it was
under-regulated, free-market capitalism that got us here?
In a free market, these weak banks wouldn't be around. Pushing home ownership and low interest rates irrespective of risk is what got us into this problem. Not everybody can afford a house. Maybe it's worth it to loan money to people who can't afford to borrow it so they can live in a house. I don't know. I'm just saying that the consequences of it are that you're going to have a lot of bad mortgages and inflated real estate prices. And then they're going to correct and it's going to be a mess. And it's taxpayers on the hook.
What do you think would be the consequences if the government didn't do the
The consequences are the same whether we do the bailout or not. The difference is who pays for it. We're having a contraction from deflation of an asset bubble that was overpriced. We're just going through that cycle. With the bailout, you delay it, make it bigger and put it on your children. It's essentially delaying pain. Without the bailout, this generation pays for it and we know what the bill is. That money's not coming back.
I felt like a bunch of words on a piece of paper people wouldn't read, but with a picture, people get it right away.
But it looks like the bailout's going to happen, so did you fail?
I read a quote somewhere that was like, 'Freedom fighters don't always win, but they're always right.' You can't always win, but they'll be consequences for the people that voted for and pushed for this.
Speaking of people who voted for it, what about Barack Obama? You're a big
supporter of his, right?
I'm a big Obama supporter, but I think he's just horribly wrong on this issue. I think it's just part of who he is. He's on the side that government needs to step in and do something. I disagree strongly.
Are people that know you surprised that you did this?
They know I'm outspoken. People who know me were like, 'There goes Perkins again. I don't know if he's crazy or a hero.'