SAN FRANCISCO (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
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
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
Later in the talk, Perkins made it clear he was trying to goad the
"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.
(Reporting by Sarah McBride; editing by