Billionaire suggests rich should get more votes than the poor
Venture capitalist claims if you pay $1m in tax you should get 1m votes
Tom Perkins, co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
This time, Tom Perkins knew he was courting controversy. The 82-year-old venture capitalist, who caused a stir last month when he said in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal that protesters criticising the wealthy were similar to Nazis, has fully embraced a new role as a spokesman for the beleaguered “one percent.”
In a conversation with a Fortune magazine editor at a San Francisco event on Thursday, Mr Perkins spent an hour riffing on his position that the wealthiest Americans are being unfairly treated.
One major theme was taxation. Many wealthy businessmen argue that the rich pay too much in taxes. Mr Perkins goes several steps further. “The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes,” he said at the very end of the interview, explaining that he had spent some time formulating this theory. He cited Thomas Jefferson and Margaret Thatcher to provide ideological precedent.
“But what I really think is it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you should get a million votes,” he said. “How’s that?” The remark drew laughter from some in the audience, who apparently thought the investor was joking. In a summary of the event, a Fortune reporter wrote: “Perkins later said offstage that what he meant was that, with 50 per cent of registered US voters not paying taxes, ‘we got ourselves into a mess.’”
In any event, the comments provided a memorable cap on a conversation that ranged widely, from monetary policy to the buses Google uses to shuttle workers to its campus (he said San Francisco had become a “suburb of Silicon Valley”).
Mr Perkins was finally asked for his “60-second idea to change the world.”
It was the moment he had been waiting for. “I’ve been thinking about this, as I was listening to you ramble on,” Mr. Perkins said to the Fortune editor, Adam Lashinsky, before revealing his theory of taxation. “It’s going to make you more angry than my letter to The Wall Street Journal did,” Mr Perkins said.
- New York Times Service