“Tom Perkins, the legendary venture capitalist who provoked a firestorm by comparing the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany to the way rich people are treated in the United States, on Thursday offered a provocative idea about how to “change the world.” During an interview with a Fortune magazine jornalist, Perkins said that only U.S. taxpayers should be able to vote in elections.
But that’s not all. Perkins went on to say that wealthy people should get more votes than others because they pay more in taxes. The comments by Perkins, who made his fortune as one of the founders of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, provoked laughter at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, where he was being interviewed by Adam Lashinsky ofFortune. Perkins would later say that his comments were meant to be “provocative,” according to Reuters, and at least one reporter at the event said the 82-year-old later claimed he wasn’t being serious.
Earlier in the interview, Perkins elaborated on his controversial view that the wealthiest Americans — sometimes called the 1% — are currently being “persecuted” because they are rich. “The extreme progressivity of taxation is a form of persecution,” Perkins said. “I think if you’ve paid 75% of your life’s earnings to the government, you are being persecuted.” In the U.S., wealthy people pay higher rates of income tax — in what’s known as a progressive tax system — in part to fund social programs for less affluent people.
Later in the interview, Lashinksy asked Perkins for a “60-second idea to change the world.” The venture capitalist’s response: “The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes. 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. How’s that?” (Video below, see comments at 1:03:00.) Perkins later elaborated on those comments to Fortune by saying that because 50% of registered U.S. voters don’t pay taxes, “we got ourselves into a mess.”…”