In a letter to the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, legendary venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared what he sees as a “progressive war on the American one percent” to Kristallnacht, the series of coordinated attacks against the Jews during Nazi Germany. Today on Bloomberg West, Perkins apologized for using the word “Kristallnacht,” saying that he regretted the reference, but said he stands by the broader message of the piece. That message, he says, is that there is a demonization of the one percent happening — one which is “dangerous” and “preposterous.”
Perkins said that he apologized to the head of the Anti-Defamation League for use of the word Kristallnacht in his letter, and said he thought of the word after the protestors bashed in the windows of luxury car dealerships during the Occupy movement a few years ago. He also cited the experiences of his longtime partner Eugene Kleiner, who was born in Austria and fled the Nazis in the late 1930s, before serving in the U.S. Army.
In the interview Perkins said he believed Kleiner would likely have agreed with his message. Kleiner often warned to “never imagine that the unimaginable could not become real,” Perkins said, which fits in with the belief that the progressive 99 percent are targeting those more fortunate.
The real crux of his argument, Perkins said, was that a majority of the population was seeking to demonize a minority of the population in both Nazi Germany and in today’s hostile treatment of the richest 1 percent in this country.
“Anytime the majority starts to demonize a minority, no matter what it is, it’s wrong,” he said. “And it’s dangerous. And no good ever comes from it.”
Perkins went on to say that the rich shouldn’t be demonized for what it does — which is, get more rich and create jobs along the way. He argued that his namesake venture firm Kleiner Perkins had probably created a million jobs over the years.
“The 1 percent are not the problem,” Perkins said. “It’s absurd to demonize the rich for being rich, and doing what the rich do… which is getting more rich by creating opportunities for others.”
According to Perkins, the rich as a class are threatened by higher taxes and higher regulation, both of which make job creation more difficult. He argued that he believed the solution was “less [government] interference” and “lower taxes,” which again, “would let the rich do what the rich do, which is get richer.”
And, you know, create a rising tide for all the rest of us.
That message follows the typical trickle-down economics playbook that the GOP has been pushing since at least the 1980s. And yet, despite lower marginal tax rates than at any point since the Great Depression, income inequality just keeps getting worse.
Perkins also mentioned that he felt Kleiner Perkins had “thrown him under the bus” after distancing itself from his statements over the weekend. And he used that as an opportunity to take a shot at the firm’s returns since he had been there, claiming a decline at the firm ever since he’s no longer been involved.
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