Tom Perkins is back. Still apologetic for his Kristallnacht analogy, the 82-year-old 1-percenter’s-1-percenter, still wearing the $350,000 Richard Mille watch discussed his views on the failure of social, fiscal, and monetary policy at a talk entitled “The War On The 1%” ironically in San Francisco – and increasingly divided city. Perkins explained that the top 1% is carrying the government – “Government is a giant beast that has to be fed, and it’s fed with taxes… and taxes will go up and up and up.” Simply put, he notes on the entitlement society and implict buying of votes, “we got ourselves into this mess,” and his biggest fear is higher taxes until there is no 1% – “It’s an economic extinction, not a physical one.” Perkins proposes a “$1, 1 vote” future noting that 50% of registered voters pay no taxes.
Perkins on the demonization of the rich…
Why a watch costs $350k?!!
Perkins pegged the problem of the American taxation system on failures in social, fiscal, and monetary policy.
The income gap has roots in the War on Poverty, Perkins said, which he wished “had not been such a fiasco.” He blamed Lyndon B. Johnson’s social programs for an increase in out-of-wedlock birthrates and low-income single parent households.
Fiscally, Perkins said that the government spends too much money on entitlement programs, an issue highlighted by the debt that the U.S. accrues as a result. “We’re on a knife edge with this incredible debt that can’t be paid back,” Perkins said.
Finally, Perkins’ views on monetary policy were that historically low interest rates have led to a boom in tech startups. Which, according to Perkins, is a bad thing. “An incredible amount of money has flowed into venture capital,” he said. So, when students drop out of college and move to Silicon Valley to start companies or design software, “There’s so much money [in Silicon Valley], that they can keep failing and failing, so they aren’t learning in college anymore.”
When challenged to say, in 60 seconds, how he would change the world, Perkins made a playfully controversial response.
He suggested that, in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson’s voting land owners and Margaret Thatcher’s idea of only allowing taxpayers to vote, “The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get the vote if you don’t pay a dollar in taxes. But what I really think is it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars, you get a million votes. How’s that?” To which the audience responded with laughter. Perkins later said offstage that what he meant was that, with 50% of registered U.S. voters not paying taxes, “we got ourselves into a mess.”
Perkins said the fear is higher taxes until there is no 1%. “It’s an economic extinction, not a physical one.”