UPDATE 1-Investor Tom Perkins says progressive taxation 'persecutes' the rich

Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:28pm EST

By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO Feb 14 (Reuters) - Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who compared the plight of the wealthiest Americans to Jews in Nazi Germany, offered up a provocative new idea on what the rich deserve: more votes in public elections for every dollar they pay in taxes.

"If you pay a million dollars, you should get a million votes," Perkins, the retired co-founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, told an audience at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club in comments that he later said were meant to be provocative. He also said that only taxpayers should have the right to vote.

Last month, Perkins wrote a much-discussed letter-to-the-editor published in The Wall Street Journal that likened the Nazi party's war on Jews to what he called "the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.'"

He later apologized for the analogy, which included a reference to Kristallnacht, the 1938 attack on Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria. He expressed regret again on Thursday for those words, saying, "You shouldn't compare anything to the Holocaust."

But on Thursday night, he doubled down on his comments about the treatment of the nation's wealthiest citizens.

"The extreme progressivity of taxation is a form of persecution," he said. "I think if you've paid 75 percent of your life's earnings to the government, you are being persecuted."

Perkins said the richest Americans, known as the 1 percent, contribute a great deal to the nation, including donating to charities.

He also discussed editorial attacks on his ex-wife, the best-selling novelist Danielle Steele; said he didn't understand the anger over the buses that ferry technology workers who live San Francisco to their jobs in Silicon Valley; and posited that if Germany had U.S. gun laws, "there would have never been a Hitler."

Perkins's comments come at a time of rising concern over income inequality, both in the country and specifically in San Francisco, where many blame technology workers for rising rents and other costs.

Later in the talk, Perkins made it clear he was trying to goad the audience.

"It's going to make you more angry than my letter to The Wall Street Journal," he said, before floating his idea about allocating votes based on taxes. "How's that?" he said when finished, throwing up his hands and looking out at the laughing audience.

In his career as a venture capitalist, Perkins backed companies including Genentech and Tandem Computers, and his firm has backed Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc and others. He grew up in a working-class family in White Plains, New York.

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Comments (2)
JosephBlow wrote:
Venture Capitalist are among the most arrogant people on the planet. Maybe Perkins should spend his time helping the poor like Bill Gates instead of complaining about the tax rates on capital gains which are very low and paid for by working class people. Perhaps Perkins is senile with no understanding or knowledge of WWII and the holocaust.

Warren Buffet is right the rich do not pay their fair share of tax.

Feb 14, 2014 7:54pm EST  --  Report as abuse
tonyalfidi wrote:
Tom Perkins has declared war on American values. Plutocrats increasingly show contempt for America. Our elites search for new unifying myths. http://goo.gl/IjWTds

Feb 14, 2014 9:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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