Yves here. Billionaire Tom Perkins, who made the widely-pilloried claim that rich people like him were horribly victimized and on the verge of being slaughtered like Jews in World War II’s Germany, managed the impressive task of digging his hole even deeper in a follow up interview.
Bill Moyers, who among his many accomplishments was President Johnson’s press secretary, and his colleague Michael Winship put on their PR professional hat to describe where and how badly Perkins screwed up.
By Bill Moyers, the managing editor of Moyers & Company, and Michael Winship, Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, and a senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos. Originally published at BillMoyers.com
There’s a rule of thumb in cyberspace etiquette known as Godwin’s Law, named after Mike Godwin, the Internet lawyer and activist who first came up with it. A variation of that law boils down to this: He who first compares the other side to Nazis loses, and the conversation is at an end. Unless you’re billionaire Tom Perkins, who seems dedicated to digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself.
By now you’ve probably heard about Perkins’s infamous letter to The Wall Street Journal (whose editorial page is the rich man’s Pravda of class warfare) in which he wrote, “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich…’ This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
It’s astonishing how ignorant (not to mention crude and cruel) the very rich can be. Surely, one of his well-paid retainers could have reminded Mr. Perkins that Kristallnacht was the opening salvo in Hitler’s extermination of the Jews, the “night of broken glass” in 1938 Germany and Austria when nearly a hundred Jews were murdered, 30,000 were sent to concentration camps and synagogues and Jewish-owned business were looted and destroyed, many of them burned to the ground. If Perkins thought his puny point survived the outrageous exaggeration, he was sadly mistaken.
Tom Perkins Apologizes on Bloomberg TV
Nonetheless, after a stunned world responded, venture capitalist Perkins went on Bloomberg TV to apologize for using the word “Kristallnacht” but not for the sentiment of his letter. “I don’t regret the message at all,” he said. “Anytime the majority starts to demonize the minority, no matter what it is, it’s wrong and dangerous and no good comes from it.”
Perkins also said that he has family “living in trailer parks,” but bragged like some cackling James Bond villain that he owns “an airplane that flies underwater” and a wristwatch that “could buy a six-pack of Rolexes.” That watch, on prominent display during the Bloomberg interview, is a Richard Mille, a charming little timepiece that can retail for more than $300,000. At that price, a watch shouldn’t just tell you the time, it should allow you to travel through it, perhaps back to the Gilded Age or Versailles in 1789, just as the tumbrils rolled in. Here in the office, our $85 Timex and Seiko watches have crossed their hands over their faces in shame.
That Richard Mille watch triggered TV producer David Simon’s comment on an upcoming episode of Moyers & Company that it should be sold and used to open drug treatment centers in Baltimore, the city where Simon was a crime reporter and which served as the backdrop and central character of his classic HBO series The Wire. You can watch the complete excerpt here:
By the way, the other David Simon to whom ours refers is no longer the highest paid American. The title now goes to CBS Chair and CEO Leslie Moonves, who’s getting a salary of $60 million, and will always be remembered by us as the man who said of rampant political spending, “Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.”
Pity the rich their gluttony; it has made them blind.
I am going off topic here so be warned and also in a pretty orthogonal way. Detestable as Perkins was I was curious about how he broadly classed the 1 percent in Nazi Germany as the ‘Jews’. As an avid student of history and sociology I have followed a long curve regarding the holocaust. As a young kid in college I devoured one book after another of Leon Uris in which he mostly writes about the history of Israel and the persecution of Jews in one form or another. I was pretty struck then by the Nazi cruelty. In keeping with the naivety of a 20 year old and being Christian I also thought Jews were the best people in the entire earth and God invested special powers and talents in them. Moronic I know but hey I was an idealistic 20 year old. And then I came to America and slowly the AIPAC started seeping into me and of course people like Ariel Sharon and Bibi in the context of the atrocities in the West Bank and Gaza. And then the GFC happened in 2007 and I slowly started to understand the the Jewish people are indeed a very special race. They just happen to be too smart and being too smart and too greedy – now that is a deadly combination. To stop myself from falling into bigotry I remind myself of the great Jewish thinkers like Marx for instance and the authors of ‘The Israel Lobby’, Meersheimer and Walt who are also Jewish but who had the enormous courage to take on the Right Wing Jewish machine here in the USA. I think especially in the money changing business over the centuries, the Jews have a lot to answer for and in Perkins terming the 1% in Germany during Hitler’s time as ‘Jews’, is he giving truth to the general opinion that the Jewish people were seen by the Nazis as immoral greedy bankers who led Germany to defeat in WWI? Is there also validity in extrapolating this to say, hey they have always had too much money due to their smartness and people with too much money are somehow or other always in the maelstrom of causation in History. All this is conjecture, I don’t know, do let me know. If someone can suggest a book on this that would be great as well. The broad line of enquiry is, ‘did the Jews do something do earn the ire of the Germans?’. Were they financially and otherwise too successful? Did too many of them occupy the top rungs in Government and Business?
Because of their nomadic situation, in many countries Jews were left out of property ownership and/or other rights. To make a living they have had to be ingenuous. These constraints probably led them to excel in more liberal industries such as banking and trade…
We also know that when governments need money, they target banks and trade. And when resources get limited, discrimination soars. All these variables were at play in Germany.
Perkins is right that we will discriminate to redistribute and he is the accelerant. LOL!
They didn’t make the trains run on time. To achieve efficiency there has to be a level of empathy which t he fascist mind lacks. They were powerful because enough people convinced themselves that they had nothing to hide or they correctly understood the security apparatus was too irrational and buffoon is to make a plea for positive change. The Nazis share of the vote dropped sharply before elections were halted. Basically, the trains weren’t running on time, and patience was wearing thin. Many of the leaders of the two Germany were put into protective custody/house arrest early in the regime to keep them from pointing out broken promises.
Sure, there were a few rich jews. But its not as if they were ALL rich. Many of them were just average. There were just a small group, that were very well off. A Jewish 1% or 10% if you will.
The rest of the jews had to pay for the avarice of the few, in my mind. Im assuming the richest probably got out while they still could. There were some pretty wealthy ones still there, of course, but I imagine them to be more second tier.
But this is more my speculation. I have nothing to back any of this up.
But like men, and animals, some Jews are ‘more equal’ than others when it comes to power and wealth… And the ignorant just assume all of them are that way, because the ignorant traditionally despise any form of nuance.
See Deuteronomy 28 for an explanation for Jewish success, Jewish persecution and why many Jews have rejected the God of the Torah (because He eventually did what He warned them repeatedly He’d do).
But as for Gentiles, we’d best err on the side of kindness toward the Jews lest God punish us too (as He did the Babylonians even though He used them to punish Judah).
Thanks for that FB. That was a real frightening read.
Confusion is inaccuracy compounded, forensic anthro does not support your opinions beardo.
Skippy… scary indeed!!!
As Karl Marx argues in “On The Jewish Question,” the Jewish people were, in many ways, the first bourgeoisie because 1) Judaism forbids taking interest from Jews but allows taking it from gentiles, whereas Christianity and Islam forbids usury entirely, and 2) the dispersed nature of the Jewish diaspora throughout Europe left them well placed for the mercantile activity that set the stage for Capitalism in the early modern period. Marx was basically saying that this history made Jewish values and bourgeois values nearly identical.
This was exactly what I was looking for, brilliant! Thanks! Karl was a great guy!
Germany lost the First world war, because they couldn’t maintain a long protracted conflict, they needed a short , quick victory–and they didn’t have very strong allies–many German Jews fought for Germany during the war—
Jews are alway scapegoats, it has nothing to do with power, or money—and there are no simple answers. Regarding Israel, many Jews, even Israilis don’t go along with many of the governments policies, as many Americans don’t go along with ours.
Jews ended up in banking for historical reasons. The medieval usury laws did not allow Christians to charge interest on loans. The Jews did not have a religious proscription on receiving interest and could provide loans. This resulted in periodic rounds of the local lord getting indebted, then starting a pogrom to wipe out his debt/moneylenders, so there were historical hostilities against Jews.
Many Jews were still bankers or in financial occupations as the Nazis came to power. The Nazis needed a target: Jews were relatively wealthy and worth looting, they were historically suspect, and eugenics could be used against them by defining them as a lesser race.
IMHO race is a social construct more than anything. There are more differences between individuals than there are between races, and there’s a lot of gene flow back and forth between “races”.
I remember once watching a PBS biography about Harry Truman. It noted that just after The Armistice was declared, Captain of Artillery Truman said something like . . . the Germans ought to be forced to keep fighting until they were completely defeated within their own country.
If they were allowed to get off with an armistice they would start another war in 20 years. Worse, the Kaiser was allowed to abdicate and the Generals were not forced to sign the instrument of armistice. So a vacuum was created to fill with myth.
Why were poor Jews targeted and rich Germans not targeted? Why did the Nazi forces go to Poland and Ukraine and Belarus and etc. to hunt Jews of all classes there? The motive was ethnic-racial, not class.
Motivation and motive are not identical constructs, or there would be no such thing as a sales pitch.
When is the skunk at the garden party going to show up?
It would shock me if somehow plutocrat Perkins watch wasn’t a tax write off. Buried in the blizzard of tax deductions for the rest of his opulence. You know, capital cost allowance for a $300,000 machine that tells time.
The other question in my mind is, why is lobbying the government for special favors a tax deductible expense? I am reasonably sure that giving money to super pacs and paying for Washington lobbyists is done with before tax income.
If a company wants to spend money buying politicians, it should be done with after tax income. Unless bribery is their core business.
Lobbying is not a tax deductible expense. Unless u have dishonest tax preparers. For financial statement purposes, it is an expense. But for taxes, it is an add-back.
Yes, but IIRC, contributions to a professional organization such as the Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, CFR, etc., are tax deductible, so simply have them do your lobbying for you.
Mr. Perkins probably doesn’t own that watch himself – it was probably purchased by a Bermuda company owned by an Irish corporation, of which he is the CEO (with the shares owned by Mr. Perkin’s retirement plan…)
I don’t think it’s that surprising for someone of his position to self-perceive in this way. European fascism was (superficially) anti-capitalist within its anti-semitism. However, comparing the makeshift, scrappy occupy wall-streeters with the nightmarish model of german efficiency is strange at best. I always found it strange the way anti-gov’t advocates perceive the Nazi’s. “Gov’t is inefficient, and the Nazis were evil” are not complementary arguments…. The Nazi gov’t, if nothing else, was certainly efficient.
Im glad you say ‘superficially’. Its an anti-capitalist veneer coated over a sort of heavy government hyper-capitalism.
But that being said, the fascists were powerful because of their efficiency, not despite it. People liked Mussolini because he made the goddamn trains run on time and got rid of criminals and the mafias. Same things went for Hitler. In many ways they sort of ‘cleaned up’ government. Though in both cases the clean up was followed by systematic oppression.
Tom perkins is practicing one of my biggest pet peeves, namely, “Reductio ad Hitlerum.”
“fascists were powerful because of their efficiency, not despite it.”
That’s what I was trying to say. Hence, its absurd to think that the 1% rich are being persecuted by the inefficient and powerless OWS, or even, by extension, the democratic party, which (according to perkins) is part of the same institutions that are “inefficient.”
You can’t call an institution inefficient (us gov’t, democratic party, ows) and then claim it’s persecuting you like the Nazis…
I think the idea of the fascists are being frighteningly efficient is pretty overdone. They were good at some things, war making and mass killings being the most notable obviously. But their actual policy making and running of the German government and the conquered territories was an shambles. The government was a mess of personal fiefdoms, policies made on a whim, infighting, trying to guess Hitler’s wishes, etc. The economy was based purely on looting of new territory and without the war would probably have collapsed at some point over the medium term. One of the main reasons the Nazis wanted to take over Czechoslovakia was that they were desperate to get their hands on Czech hard currency and physical plant. Mark Mazower’s book Hitler’s Empire is a great examination of Nazi government dysfunction and the mechanics of running Germany and their empire.
will check that book out
“One of the main reasons the Nazis wanted to take over Czechoslovakia was that they were desperate to get their hands on Czech hard currency and physical plant. Mark Mazower’s book Hitler’s Empire is a great examination of Nazi government dysfunction and the mechanics of running Germany and their empire.”
I don’t know. People here have mentioned it so many times that I finally checked “Bloodlands” out of the library to read in my spare time. Just skimming it, supposedly two thirds of the killing in the territory between Russia and Germany was accomplished by Germany. And Stalin, who surely took the forced labor camp to new levels, was no slouch in that department. So, apparently Germany was effective, if not “efficient” at something.
I’m also reading Perelman’s “Invention of capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation,” and he shows some Industrial Revolution era Brit or other quipping that Germany was in danger of becoming their farm. Maybe the Reich was still making up for lost time, and seizing someone else’s productive capacity seemed like the thing to do at the time.
As an aside, Perelman also likes to show Lenin describing what the Bolsheviks are doing as “capitalism.” I’m only about halfway through it and he’s already called Soviet communism “capitalism” twice. This is a guy who is clearly out to make some people’s heads explode!
Soviet Russia was an example of State Capitalism. The economy was run by party members instead of industrialists.
I would maybe be impressed if he had a collection of 3000 such watches, then he might actually be somewhat redistributing the wealth.
I cant imagine buying 3000 300000 dollar watches would be as good a stimulus for the economy as buying 30000000 30 dollar watches.
That would pretty much be Keynsian stimulus, only with watches instead of ditch digging.
Not sure what to do with 30 million cheap watches though… Send them to Africa alongside food relief packages?
Even if he just puts them in a ditch, or puts them on a spaceship to the moon, I would still be impressed with his stimulus. Probably better stimulus than whatever the hell he actually spends his money on.
Hopefully, 3000 300K$ watches would stimulate research and jobs in the Western world while 30$ watches would perpetuate the current Chinese export situation.
Anohoo… we’re confabulating now. LOL!
I’ve always seen the wristwatch as a manacle, tying one to the dictates of an artificial schedule determined by others, not you. So, the poor guy wears an expensive handcuff. Even with a billion dollars, he is not the master of his own fate. No wonder he fears his own shadow.
David Harvey explains how the management of time is an integral part of a capitalist economy in his examination of the chapter The Working Day in Capital vol. 1. Time itself was much less regulated in the feudal society.
People should have more sympathy for the tragedy in Tom Perkins life. He had a lifelong dream of building the world’s largest sailboat and sailing it for a lap around San Francisco Bay while all of his peers in the VC world looked on in envy. When he finally succeeded in proving that his was longer than theirs nobody paid any attention. Imagine the devastation.
It’s amazing how stupid the rich can be. I think all that privilege does something to their brains. I once had a conversation with a fellow student in college: she came from a very rich family and was convinced that everyone had equal opportunities and that she didn’t have any objective advantages over say, your average Mexican farm kid. If they didn’t want to stay poor, they should just go to college, like she was doing.
It really is astounding, how downright moronic these d-bags can be, not to mention their tin-ear when it comes to pretending to be human: “I’ve got family living in trailer parks, but I’ve also got a plane that flies underwater,” would be recognized by most as an admission of absolute dick-headedness, but this prick somehow thinks it says something good about him.
Obama, master PR man, is in the same boat. He has a half-brother (or some relative) living in a hut in Kenya. Maybe it’s a very nice hut. I’m just wondering what is the rule of thumb we’re suggesting here. If you become rich, you are supposed to lift all your relatives from living in huts/ trailer parks?
It probably depends on how expensive Obamas watch is. If Obama has a $300 watch or something he could probably afford to give his cousin a 150$ care package at least.
Which he probably has never done.
And this is kenya we are talking about: 150$ of cheap food would probably let him eat through the month.
The answer in a lot of places is “yes.” If it’s not you’ve got your priorities all out of whack. But not here in the good ol’ US of A, Gawd’s own country…
And when you could afford to buy everyone in your family a nice non-mobile home and still have money left over for lunch but you don’t and buy a plane/submarine instead, I feel justified in calling our your (his) dick-headed behavior.
But we do live in a fragmented society where families aren’t necessarily close. I agree it’s a shame, there’s just something amusing about people saying “Oh the scandal! His cousins live in trailer parks/ huts, he should get them all some nice, middle-class homes! gosh, what a cad.”
Guy gets rich. “Welp, guess I better send some $150,000 checks to those kin-folk o’ mine I never see…”
Kin-folk type person gets check in mail. “Linda Sue! Come looka’ here!” etc.
I actually find the Obama/hut business pretty amusing precisely because Obama is such a PR/image type of guy. Somehow people don’t get outraged over his hut brethren the way they do over this plutocrat’s trailer park relatives. It would be really funny to ask him that question. “So Mr. President, your half-brother lives in a hut. A HUT, Mr. President. Look, we know you’ve got money beyond just your salary. There’s the books, there’s probably some shady real estate deals. You’ve got the dough. Shouldn’t you buy him at least a *trailer* Mr. President? He lives in a HUT for godsakes.”
Wait, does perkins actually have cousins living in trailer parks? Or is this a joke?
Because man, familial ties dont mean jack shit to the rich if they cant spare to give to their cousins half the amount of money I spend on a watch.
If I were to buy a watch, I could say, spend 50 dollars on one. And half of that is probably less than what I give to my cousins every christmas.
Is prescriptive ethos stupid? (I happen to think it problematic at the very least, but the freedom to do so may be one of the few luxuries that comes with autism-spectrum “disorders”.)
Is “stupid” really anything but a way of saying “Them” in a non-withering fashion?
In my mind, even an 85 dollar watch is something of an unnecessary luxury, to be done without if possible.
To sport a watch that costs as much as a small house, is beyond my comprehension.
The worst thing is that telling time is an accidental purpose of his watch: Its ultimately for conspicuous consumption. To show off the fact that hes so rich, he CAN buy the goddamn thing. I mean, you could probably get a watch that is even more awesome looking for a fraction of the price. The fact that it costs so damn much is part of its appeal.
I dont have too much problem with his submarine though: Submarines are cool ^_^ If the Koch brothers died and left me the heir to their estate I might get myself one xD
Watches, shoes, handbags, cars, houses and so on are status indicators and common to human societies. Since we are a society that sees money and wealth as the final moral arbiter these status indicators will be valid whether you’re making billions or minimum wage. Again, this is a social issue that expresses are real values.
I’m actually glad that Perkins made his comment. It shows that the rising tide of egalitarian populism is starting to have an an impact on the comfort levels of the plutocrats. If these political voices were insignificant, people like Perkins wouldn’t be worried. There will be more such statements of concern from the rich, and the statements won’t all be rational. Rather than advise them to shut up, I hope they keep letting loose with these statements. When they do, they attract attention to themselves.
I will agree with Perkins to this limited extent. It is a mistake to vilify individuals if that comes at the expense of a focus on underlying structural factors in our social and economic system. If we seized all of the wealth of the 1%, divided it into 300 million equal shares and gave everyone a share, that would have a very nice temporary effect. But within a few months there would be a new class of elite plutocrats on the way to building their own King Midas fortunes. The important thing to worry about is what allows this kind of inequality and economic elitism to occur in the first place.
That’s more or less correct. Because our social values have wealth as the final arbiter of status and morality–that, not the rich per se, is the problem. We need to change society from the bottom up and top down at the same time–the rich see themselves as expressing the highest values of their society and live accordingly.
We can start just by changing the rules, so we don’t have to place our bets on an improbable spiritual transformation of humanity. Inequality comes when you combine free enterprise with no legal limits on private capital accumulation, and inadequate systems for distributing the national product across the population.
The important thing to realize is that most of the extremely rich got that way by collecting economic rents.
The solution is clear: tax those rents at an extremely high rate. Both equitable and efficient.
You made me think of Yeats: “the beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on”. I first saw that quoted here at NC, I forget by whom, but I belatedly thank them.
You are right that we need something deeper and more pervasive than one-off redistribution. We need the recognition that a good job with a living wage is a *basic human right*, a matter of human decency, and our nation will not be just until we accomplish this.
But, as Perkins is really a grotesque parody of the plutocrat, and a burlesquing of capitalism, I say: don’t shut him up. Give him the mic!
This Moyers piece is misleading and very slight, superficial. I’m sure there are damning arguments to make against Perkins’ comments, but this isn’t it.
Just on the question of accuracy, if you watch the video Perkins says the watch was a gift for doing business with some yacht-builder. Maybe that is “worse” if you don’t like luxury goods, but at least be accurate. And the characterization of Perkins “cackling like a James Bond villain,” etc., seems in bad faith to me, and is not fair to Perkins who if you watch with an open mind seems to be trying to speak his own truth sincerely, agree or disagree. Moyers & Winships’ piece just seems like cynically (or simple-minded on their part?) dashed off red meat for those who really do indiscriminately hate “the 1%” without regard to complexity or nuance in these matters.
To me Perkins, like other conservatives I know, seems to hold an overly romantic view of capitalism and idealized, halcyon view of the “job creators.” Maybe Silicon Valley has been a better argument for “actually existing capitalism,” has validated some of its claims, and this colors Perkins’ view. To me the “great ball players” of capitalism — the superstar athletes, superstar geeks, and their large rewards are not a problem per se. Nor luxury goods. I am more concerned about the rentiers, the FIRE sector, people who make money from money, people in gov who abet and enable this, the revolving door, crony capitalism, money in politics, and so on. (Not that there aren’t arguments even against superstar athletes et al, I just find it much more palatable than rentier wealth. I mean given our basic system, first things first. We can worry about “the perfect” when we’ve done away with gross and obvious abuses of power. The idea that everyone is going to live at subsistence level, but work like a demon 80, 90 hr weeks trying to invent tech to make money to open clinics in Baltimore is not on the horizon.)
The rich are a problem in precise proportion to the extent they made no contribution to production but instead collected rents; and to the extent they use their wealth to manipulate the political process to ensure they keep collecting those rents.
He presents himself as smug and self satisfied without any concern for people outside his class. Given the suffering and death actually occurring under his own nose if he cared to look I think that qualifies him as a villain and its disgusting that he tries to make the wealthy into victims of any kind. The man takes up too much space and air. Pitchforks, lamp posts, guillotines for his kind and the rest of us would be better off.
I disagree, I think he believes the ideology about capitalism, that it raises the standard of living for everyone, ultimately. And in some respects this argument can be made, there is an argument that capitalism does an impressive job with regard to consumer material wealth. I think it’s flawed and hopefully we can find better systems going forward, but I can respect that others (like Perkins) may in good faith believe it’s a better system than others.
Even Marx believed that capitalism did some things well. So it’s easy to imagine many less critical minds could come under its spell and believe it to be a brilliant system.
“I think he believes ”
Bingo, the power of belief can be all consuming. In this particular case, Perkins is also an idiot. Belief aside, only an idiot would have written Perkins particular tripe, but I would recommend the Romney 47% video, the whole thing not Mittens. Mittens comes off as caring and a super genius compared to the morons in the room. The questions were befitting of a debate in sixth grade social studies.
I would agree there are good faith “capitalist believers” out there. Scrooge is probably a good, fictional example of this. Scrooge was moved upon seeing the plight of others.
It has been observed that the USA stands alone in conceiving of its secret police (FBI, DEA, etc.) not as loathsome scum but as borderline heroes. It’s also been observed that Hollywood movie themes shifted in the late 20th century toward “subjection, endurance and willed-acquiescence”
If the mainstream culture tacitly (or not so tacitly, in some cases) approves of abuses of power, of “personalizing the bureaucracy”, why would we actually stop abuses of power, rather than merely creating the appearance of such as a balm for the conscience? (Hence, identity politics.)
We have to understand that those of us who are very wealthy are surrounded by large groups of flatterers and hustlers all trying to get their hands on some of that money. I’ve been around these people and I’ve seen it. They live, these days (for the most part) in very isolated situations living and socializing with other rich people and celebrities. They helicopter from Manhattan to their one or another of their estates and so on. They really are, as Fitzgerald said “different” but even more so today than nearly a century ago.
For those who actually earned their money it is even worse–generally, they earned their money because they possessed a certain ability to focus on a very small section of reality and master that and, often, they possess a kind of sociopathic or high-functioning autistic personality. When they are surrounded by a court like any feudal lord or lady, their perspective is poor–their weaknesses are praised and every impulse encouraged or at least not actively contradicted.
At any rate, this is a non-issues. Most rich people are, because of what I described, poor company with a few rare exceptions and even then they always feel their word trumps yours because they are aristocrats. The issue is that we value material wealth in this society above all other values even religious and spiritual values. To break this situation we have to rediscover alternate values and stop demonizing the rich. Dan K. noted that if we eliminated the top 1% and spread the wealth to everyone we would create a pretty much identical society–can anyone truly doubt that?
I do disagree with the assumption that if wealth were distributed equitably that we would end up with an identical society. Do you have any proof of that fiction? To me it is just another TINA remark.
I posit that the incentives of our society would change drastically if we eliminate inherited wealth, permanently…..not just a fake one time shot.
Yes – permanently – I’ve always agrees with your point on this and am glad you keep repeating it.
A fair number of the “founding fathers” agreed with you. The first chapter of The Citizen’s Share, which discusses Jefferson, Adams and others’ hatred for Europe’s primogeniture laws, is available free here:
It’s worth a read.
Eliminating the inheritance of wealth will only stop the transfer of unearned fortunes between generations. It won’t stop the growth of wealth inequality. The divergent tax rates between income and capital gains is one of the major factors in the redistribution of wealth to the top 10%.
Various tax loopholes designed for privileged individuals/corporations is another scheme that is used to perpetuate the class war.
Yes, you may be right (altho these days with cronyism its hard to tell for certain) but we could start with an inherited wealth definition which might be an easier sell to the People – if We were allowed to be represented at all.
Mandatory 100% tax on inherited wealth. Equally distributed among all citizens when they reach the age of 25.
Every member of the class of 1,000— the richest in society— have the yearly alternative of throwing a potlatch and giving away half their wealth (to society, not cronies) or marching in front of a firing squad.
There , I fixed it for you.
I think Banger meant a one time redistribution. If we completely eliminated inherited wealth, yes indeed that would be revolutionary. But I think Banger’s point, and it is mine at least, is that as much as there is a rising populist tide, that tide is only agitating for a reset. Most of the calls I see/hear for redistribution are still set within a have/have not framework. Much of the US population is copping on to the utterly rigged nature of the game, but most of that set just wants a reset so that they can have a “fair” shot at being the boss…they dont want to do away with bosses yet, and thats where we need to get for a substantial change.
Yes, poor put upon rich who have to interrupt their wine-drinking at brunch to watch Occupy Wall Street get snatched, slammed, and arrested by the NYPD. Poor dears, what other terrors await the privileged apart from us?
Forget Godwin’s law, the analogy itself is hash. But keep saying, “Let them eat cake, Mr. Perkins.” Some day the real working class will catch on the scam and the fraud, and lawyers and accountants won’t save you. And they are the ones currently demanding their Second Amendment rights.
Ignoring the particularly heinous element of Perkins LETTER (he wrote it, this was not off the cuff remarks), I’m reminded of Mittens 47% video in front of major donors. The letter, the video, and the coverage of Mittens statement demonstrate the degree we allow gross stupidity to go unchallenged.
Those Mittens donors did nothing but ask Dick and Jane simple questions and we’re under the impression they were average joes. This was the stunning part of the video, and in many ways Mittens infamous remark is the result of trying to string together phrases to appease real morons.
The dumbing down of society isn’t limited to the 99%. The Perkins isn’t a case of a mistake ruining the execution of a decent idea. He is a stupid man who chooses to dwell in stupidity and put it on display.
I would change that only to, “He is too economically fat and intellectually lazy to pull himself out of his self induced stupor and as a result unwittingly wears his stupidity like a sign on public display.”
I don’t know if I would give Perkins that much credit. This might apply to him, but he might just be stupid. If society demanded intellectual rigor, Perkins might not be able rise to the challenge.
Perkins sat down and compared himself to Jews in the Holocaust. The stupid is strong with that one.
Now that I’ve digested the world in the wake of UVA with a two game lead on Duke in the ACC, I’m more concerned the editors of the Wall Street Journal just didn’t put it in the crank file. Obviously, they are owned by Newscorp (Murdoch), but yeesh…why haven’t they printed the letter from the guy who wants to tell us the truth about the aliens/rigelians? At least that guy is creative and is experiencing a shared cultural hallucination which goes back to other cultures with their particular archetypes. Maybe they do? I haven’t read the WSJ since it was purchased by Murdoch.
This is why people should only receive that amount of compensation that truly reflects the economic value they have produced, not a dime more. That would eliminate 99.99% of the rich.
Most of the wealthy are simply parasites, ALWAYS have been, and ALWAYS will be. The name of game is how to get, ‘something for nothing,’ honed razor-sharp at the finest schools in the land.
I had no idea Perkins killed somebody with his yacht. It seems so…. apt.
Come on Lambert, It’s not like he got off scott-free…he had to pay like $10,000 or something, and show up in court like a plebe…it was all very traumatizing.
A case of affluenza.
Perhaps Bill Moyers and Michael Winship missed the mark a little. It’s not simply that the statement was a callous or even stupid exaggeration, it’s that it’s so blatantly 180 degrees at odds with the truth which is that the top 1% are the ones subjecting everyone else to the harsh treatment that make up this clown’s eye-for-an-eye closet nightmares, not the other way around. Most people simply aren’t that vindictive. They would be perfectly happy if there was simply more of a level playing field in both our economic and legal systems.
I don’t want Perkins to shut up.
He needs to keep talking, so more of us will wake up.
Occupy was right…but not enough stood with them.
Hear, hear! Or is it here, here!…maybe, hear here…anyway…
I agree whole heartedly, which is why I have formed the Committee to Provide More Rope. Our mission at CPMR is to encourage news-entities to do more interviews with the uber-wealthy and to make sure that every Amer-I-Can understands perfectly what our elites actually think. If the committee is successful, the lamppost may prove unnecessary.
The first subject of conversation should dig into what they think about the over-populated world and how to fix the problem.
Does anyone know if Michael Winship is the son of Tom Winship (once editor of the Boston Globe)? Just curious.
Tom Perkins ignorance is breathtaking. He divorces the Hitler/Nazi rise from its historical context and recounts a single event. During the Great Depression there weren’t any New Deal programs in Germany. Perkins implies that today it’s the financially strapped Americans and progressives, people calling for greater fairness in the system, who are the greatest danger to America. He does not see the danger of a system that ignores their plight and increases their desperation – cutting food stamps and unemployment insurance and austerity budgets during this protracted recession, for example.
A few quotes from William Shirer’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’, 2011 edition.
“The depression … toward the end of 1929 gave Adolf Hitler his opportunity, .…he could thrive only in evil times, at first when the masses were unemployed, hungry and desperate, and later when they were intoxicated by war. …. To get the votes Hitler had only to take advantage of the times, which once more, as the Thirties began, saw the German people plunged into despair; … ” pg. 135
1930 “The political ineptitude of the magnates of industry and finance was no less than that of the generals and led to the mistaken belief that if they coughed up large enough sums for Hitler he would be beholden to them and, if he ever came to power, do their bidding. … Pg. 142
“ ‘The Fuehrer personally stressed time and time again during talks with me and industrial leaders to whom I had introduced him, that he was an enemy of state economy and of so-called “planned economy” and that he considered free enterprise and competition as absolutely necessary in order to gain the highest possible production.’ “ pg. 143
“Hitler, then, was beginning to see the men in Germany who had the money, and he was telling them more or less what they wanted the here. The party needed large sums to finance election campaigns, … The businessmen and the bankers were not the only financial sources [for the Nazi party] …but they were the largest.” pg. 143
For a plutocrat and official member of the 0.1% class, the second stupidest public comment one can make is to invoke class warfare language. The first and stupidest is to try and invoke sympathy for the billionaire .1%.
I wonder if Perkins is going to leave any of his estate to the poor? Good one!
I bet that all of it is going to American Heritage Foundation or Pete Peterson’s Sturmtruppen to attack safety nets and portray the poor as Free Shit Army like Zerohedge does continuously. Not surprisingly, there is not a peep about Tom Perkins on Zerohedge.
“He who first compares the other side to Nazis loses, and the conversation is at an end.”
But aren’t there instances where the other side is comparable to the Nazis? Aren’t Nazis history’s foremost examples of fascism, and haven’t many, including this blog and writers such as Naomi Klein, charted our descent into fascism right here at home?
Does this mean that we can’t compare what is going on in America economically with Nazi fascism? Or do we have to wait for the pogroms and purges and mass incarcerations? Or does the conversation end because if you admit that some current condition is Nazi-like, then further conversation ceases to have merit and only action (active resistance) is left?
my heavens, what a crushing bore. Someone really ought to do a modernized Faust where the devil’s price is listening to this sort of nasal droning on and on and on between the poles of self-pity and vacuous egotism. Is he out of touch with reality? A pity Rod Serling is no longer with us to have bookended this episode.
The obsession with Perkins is a distraction. The more serious issue of the last week was really Dimon’s compensation. Perkins seems like a Wall Street counterpart to Michele Bachmann. Dimon is a much greater menace. The fact that Krugman focused on Perkins and ignored Dimon proves the point.
Perkins is another example of a point I try often to make. That is that those acting in bad faith can truly believe they are acting for some greater good. Just because Perkins believes his own claptrap doesn’t absolve him in any way or lessen his guilt. This is the hard part for most people. It doesn’t matter what Perkins believes, with regard to whether he is acting in good faith or bad faith. The line between good faith and bad faith is determined by what we would expect any person in his position to know. Of course, there will be gray areas, but this is not one of them. And it is not just Perkins but the rich and elite classes in general. Perkins’ yachts, their concentration of wealth and power, serve only their own ends, not the good of society. What they do does not foster a just, equitable society and decent, honorable lives for its members. It is endlessly destructive of these. Perkins is not a fool although he is certainly an egomaniac. Nor is he simply mistaken. He is an illustration of bad faith in action, just another financial terrorist seeking to defend himself by blaming his victims.
Just remember this, Mr. Perkins, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!
Perkins spewing his vile was no accident. It was carefully planned.
The meme needs to be the rich are the victims of the people before the meme becomes the people are the victims of the rich.
Perkins is in the minority; however, its the dominant minority ruling class over the majority. A majority who’s well-being, welfare and stability have been deliberately compromised for the primary purpose of keeping us in a state of financial instability. The majority live in a state of constant anxiety wondering if we can feed our families, pay the rent, the mortgage, and have enough money to make it to the end of the month?? Wondering how much more money will be usurped in payroll taxes and skyrocketing health insurance costs from their ever-dwindling stagnant paychecks of those we now call the lucky few who have jobs.
If Perkins has anything in common with a minority; its with the 19th century railroad barons, coal mine magnates, the captains of industry, and steel tycoons, rather than his wishful contrived imagery that none of us our buying.