Q. I'm going to come back to this. But I want to touch on two more areas first. What do you think in general about the influence of people with your means on the political process? You said shame on the politicians for listening to the CEOs. Do you think the ultrawealthy have an inordinate or inappropriate amount of influence on the political process?
A. I think they actually have an insufficient influence. Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet. And so I hope that other individuals who have really enjoyed growing up in a country that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and economic freedom is part of the pursuit of happiness – (I hope they realize) they have a duty now to step up and protect that. Not for themselves, but for their kids and for their grandchildren and for the person down the street that they don't even know ...
At this moment in time, these values are under attack. This belief that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good (is wrong). We've seen that experiment. The Soviet Union collapsed. China has run away from its state-controlled system over the last 20 years and has pulled more people up from poverty by doing so than we've ever seen in the history of humanity. Why the U.S. is drifting toward a direction that has been the failed of experiment of the last century, I don't understand. I don't understand.
Q. How much do you think your influence comes from the size of your donations? Do you think you should be able to make unlimited donations? Should you be able to donate $500,000 to a super PAC?
A. In my opinion, absolutely. Absolutely. The rules that encourage transparency around that are really important. And I say that with a bit of trepidation.
Q. Why with trepidation?
A. Target made a political donation and there was a huge boycott organized.
Q. So do you or don't you think the public should know if you're giving this money?
A. My public policy hat says transparency is valuable. On the flip side, this is a very sad moment in my lifetime. This is the first time class warfare has really been embraced as a political tool. Because we are looking at an administration that has embraced class warfare as being politically expedient, I do worry about the publicity that comes with being willing to [work] both with my dollars and, more importantly, with my voice to stand for what I believe in.
As government gets bigger every single day, how does my willingness to stand up for what I believe is right become eclipsed by my dependency on institutions that are ultimately controlled by the government? Remember I live in financial services, and every bank in the United States is really under the thumb of the government in a way it's never been before. And that's really worrisome to me, as someone who's willing to say, 'Wait, we need to step back and try to push government outside the realm of every dimension of our lives.'