Tom Perkins, a legendary California venture capitalist who is worth an estimated $8 billion and is the proud owner of a 289-foot sailboat that cost him $130 million, believes he is abused and unappreciated.
Perhaps reflecting on his plight in the comfort of his 5,500-square-foot luxury apartment overlooking San Francisco Bay, Perkins wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal comparing America’s one percent to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany:
“Writing from the center of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of Fascist Nazi Germany to the war on it’s ‘one percent,’ namely the Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the rich.”
He also wrote that the public’s turn against the rich represents a “dangerous” rift in America, and compares such progressive radicalism to Germany’s Kristallnacht.
Perkins appears to be suffering from the new affliction called Affluenza, an isolation from the realities of everyday life that renders the wealthy clueless. The term was coined in a Texas case involving a teenager who got drunk and killed four of his friends in a wreck.
A psychiatrist hired by his wealthy parents testified that the kid had been so indulged and pampered that he never learned to be responsible for his actions. In other words, he suffers from Affluenza. He escaped a prison term.
People like Perkins are always complaining about the heavy tax burden they bear, but if he’s typical of his class, he pays a lower tax rate than the average middle class family.
Numerous studies of IRS returns show that the wealthy, who have a theoretical marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent, in fact pay an average of 17 to 18 percent tax on their income. Venture capitalists like Perkins get an even better deal: Through a tax dodge called carried interest, they get to treat their VC earnings as long-term capital gains (15 percent) instead of regular income.
Perkins doesn’t need sympathy. He needs a wake-up call.