Tom Perkins

The venture capitalist will allow that when he compared progressive politics to Kristallnacht, he may have exaggerated slightly: He knows the 1% will not literally go extinct, for mathematical if for no other reasons. But just in case, he’s come up with a plan that will keep them protected. Read more »

As you may have heard, a couple weeks back venture capitalist Tom Perkins wrote a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal warning that the persecution of the 1% today bears many “parallels” to “fascist Nazi Germany” and “its war on its one percent,” i.e. the Jews. As is typically the case when one throws around the term “Kristallnacht” and suggests that attacks on Danielle Steele in the San Francisco Chronicle are not unlike attacks on Jews during WWII, Perkins took a lot of heat for his op-ed, with the company he founded which still bears his name (along with those of a few others) basically saying they’ve never heard of the guy.

What did billionaire Sam Zell think of Perkins’s comments, BloombergTV’s Betty Liu asked today? 1. That Perkins is right, and the 1% are being “pummeled” because it’s “politically convenient.” and 2. That while we’re on the subject of the 1%, the people attacking them should instead being “emulating” them, because “the 1% work harder,” which brings us to this delightful bit of dialogue:

Liu: But Sam, try telling that to the person who is on minimum wage, who is living below the poverty line, that they should try to emulate the 1%. How are they going to get there?
Zell: Oh, the stories are rampant of people who started with a candy store and took it from there. There are lots of people who have the ambition and have the motivation and have succeeded. Read more »

A good rule to follow when hoping to be taken seriously is not to equate the deliberate killing of specific groups of people based on their race, religion or political affiliation with anything other than the deliberate killing of specific groups of people based on their race, religion or political affiliation. For the most part, people follow this guideline without even having to think about it, but every now and then, emotionally charged issues come up and cause them to stray. For billionaires, there is no more emotionally-charged issue than that of their money. Back in 2010, Blackstone chief Stephen Schwarzman told board members of a non-profit that “the struggle with the [Obama] administration over increasing taxes on private equity” was “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” In the lead up to the 2012 election, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman remarked to the New Yorker: “…the largest and greatest country in the free world took a forty-seven year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world. Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied.” The outcry that followed those references to the Third Reich ensured two years without a persecuted job-creator reaching for a Hitlerian metaphor.* This, apparently, was time enough for the lesson to be unlearned by one Tom Perkins.

As you’ve likely heard by now, late Friday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal printed a letter to the editor written by Perkins entitled “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Perkins was identified as “A founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,” a biographical detail that subsequently forced the venture capital firm to essentially disavow its relationship with one of the guys on its letterhead, tweeting:

There aren’t many major corporations that wouldn’t squirm a little bit to have namesakes throwing Kristallnacht around in letters to the editor. Unfortunately for KPC&B, the 184 words that followed made the headline seem reasonable. Let’s take a look. Read more »