By Sarah McBride
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 14 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 to vote.
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
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
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
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 costs.
Later in the talk, Perkins made it clear he was trying to
goad the audience.
"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
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,