Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

April 14, 2014

LYONS: Taking pity on the Plutocrats

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt ... a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

— President DwightD. Eisenhowerin a 1954 letter to his brother Edgar.

Pity the poor plutocrats, victims of the envious mob. You can hardly open the Wall Street Journal these days without reading a self-pitying screed by some billionaire hungry for love.

A while back it was venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who equated criticism of the wealthy with the Holocaust.

“I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich,’” he opined in a letter to the newspaper.

Makes sense to me. One day they’re saying Wall Street bankers should pay the same tax rate as the guys who rotate their tires; next day they’re flinging them into concentration camps. Soon billionaires will be hiding in attic penthouses, quietly fondling stock certificates. Their limos will be disguised as UPS trucks, their yachts as humble tugboats.

In a subsequent San Francisco speaking engagement, Perkins suggested that the United States formally adopt a one-dollar, one-vote electoral system. Citizens, he said, should be like shareholders in a corporation.

“You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?”

The audience laughed, but Perkins claimed to be dead serious. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the investment firm he co-founded, called itself shocked, and emphasized its disagreement.

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