NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Wow, new attack against me: I am taking advantage of my celebrity and my wealth to open businesses that could be done by others and I am crowding them out of the space.
"The celebrity gains the most, a type gentrification if you will," says Steve C., who says that "hundreds of others in similar low paying jobs may lose theirs." He adds "celebrity ventures take away people that do it for a living."
OK, cowboy. For my restaurant I am partnered with two young people who are making a go of it after working hard at the restaurants of others. We have put ten people to work at my place and will hire more. For the inn, we have a handful of people who do the hard work. I serve the breakfast Sundays and occasionally check people in. I take no jobs from anyone and I create a whole bunch.
This restaurant business is the sixth I have started. My efforts have given probably a thousand people a very good wage and very good healthcare, the latter of which I am most proud about. I have learned much about business through these service and hospitality companies as I wrote earlier. I cannot, for the life of me, see how any of this is bad, per se. These businesses would not have been started without my capital and, I might add, my hard work because I have never asked an employee at any of my businesses to do anything that I wouldn't do, as anyone who has seen me bus tables and clean up at Bar San Miguel knows all too well.There is no silver spoon here. I started with nothing and was destitute for a spell, living in my car, not even paycheck to paycheck because I simply stopped paying bills. I had no healthcare and got very sick, jaundiced liver, mononucleosis, you name it. I went to a farm workers' clinic for healthcare and begged for medicine. When the collectors caught up with me, I came up with a multi-year plan to pay a little each month until I got back on my feet. I vowed never to be as poor as I was and if I could ever be in a position to create businesses, hire people at decent wages and give them healthcare I would, as I know what it's like to be down and out. There was another bitter, brutal time in my life, well chronicled in "Confessions," where I would have told these critics to rot in hell. Now? I just say, "FOCUS!" Random Musings: Thanks for all of the birthday wishes. Maybe that's why I am, at 59, feeling real feisty!
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 3:01 p.m. EST on Real Money on Feb. 10.