We now know what at least one of the one-percenters thinks of “the rest of us.”
Tom Perkins, an MIT grad and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, wrote of the way of anger and rage towards the very top earners in America. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, he actually went so far as to compare the current wave of emotion against high-earners to the 1930s wave of legalized vandalism and theft against Jews in Nazi Germany, Kristallnacht.
“Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
Mr. Perkins’ comparison of the current disgust to one of the steps towards the Holocaust is not only racist, misguided and idiotic, it underscores why most working Americans don’t hold a single ounce of sympathy for the so-called “One Percent Club.” Perkins, who minced few words regarding his opinion towards those who hold enmity towards earners of his ilk, has now become a social-media poster child for capitalistic excess.
Sadly, Perkins’ principle issue is not his near cavalier, Marie Antoinette-style attitude towards those who struggle on a daily basis, nor is it that he fails to grasp the daily challenges average earners face – this is, after all, a man who dropped $150 mil on a superyacht called the “Maltese Falcon.” No, Perkins’ fatal personality flaw is that he appears to have bought so much into the new religion of the superrich, the “Atlas Shrugged” mentality, he fails to understand this is the fundamental issue facing this group of economic superpowers.
These are folks who, by and large, hold no national allegiance, and that is exactly why they are so reviled – they believe they are not just above the law, but beyond national affiliation.
In these circles, American, Chinese, Russia, British, German, et al, don’t really exist. It is simply an “us” and “them” mentality. “Us” is the one percenters and their compatriots. You can take a wild guess who “them” is.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, 1984 has arrived; 20 years late.
When I look at someone like Perkins, I don’t see someone who is out of touch with the rest of the world – I see someone who does not care unless it directly affects him. This is the sort of individual who believes that he deserves his gains, regardless of how ill-gotten they may be (sorry, every superrich person has engaged in some degree of illegitimate, unethical activity to reach their pinnacle – the Law of Business Physics states there is no other way). In Perkins’ estimation, everything he has done is a matter of social Darwinism – the ends justify the means because, frankly, he is more cunning, more intelligent, and has more of a “killer instinct” than his brethren. Super-rich folks such as Perkins do not care about the poor and downtrodden – we are just clients of whatever flavor-of-the-month charity they choose to donate to.
Sound like a bit of bitterness? You bet it is. As a student of history, there is one thing I have been fascinated by, and that’s the Gilded Age of the 1800s, when the Robber Barons and political machines worked hand-in-hand to enrich the coffers of that era’s one percenters, many of whom were most vile creatures to ever walk the face of the earth. Despite his religious ideology, John D. Rockefeller’s industrial power was developed through double-dealing, lies, wage-slavery and flat out greed-driven evil. He was that era’s poster child for the richest of the richest, but also the worst of the worst.
Contrast that with Andrew Carnegie. Yes, the original “Man of Steel” was a snake, a liar, and a cutthroat ass, but he also believed firmly in the concept of philanthropy, going so far as to believe that any man who dies rich being a disgrace. Yes, New York has Rockefeller Center, but countless cities around America have Carnegie Centers, Carnegie Library and other charities founded and funded by the steel giant. Carnegie had a soul, despite being rich; Rockefeller attempted to change his image using veneer philanthropy – it was a whitewash. The saving grace of the Robber Barons is they were, first and foremost, Americans. As it stands, Ayn Rand’s religion appears to have Rockefeller as its god…a god made of gold, and we all know what happened to those in the Old Testament who worshipped that god.
Only Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs appear to be legitimate heirs to the Carnegie legacy. The question is, who is willing to step up and join Gates and Jobs?
Tom Perkins appears to be like so many others who act like Rockefeller, except they hold no such mandate to hold civic loyalty. That is the essential danger of today’s superrich.