You may have thought that the entitlement culture among the high-tech elite was getting out of hand before, but it will be a long time before anything tops the ghastly outburst from venture capitalist Thomas Perkins appearing in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.
In a letter to the editor, Perkins, the billionaire co-founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, writes:
“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 complains about negative coverage about the rich in his hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, and continues:
“I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these ‘techno geeks’ can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a ‘snob’ despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.”
Social note: The bodice-ripping author Danielle Steel was once married to Perkins.
Finally, Perkins evokes the most notorious pogrom of the Nazi era, the Kristallnacht of Nov. 9, 1938: “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent [sic] ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
Some background about Kristallnacht: It was an organized attack on Jews and Jewish-owned businesses; the name refers to the broken glass from their storefronts that littered the streets of Germany and Austria in the aftermath. Ninety-one Jews were murdered. Thirty thousand Jewish males were arrested by the SS and Gestapo, most of them deported to Dachau, Buchenwald, and other concentration camps. The rioters destroyed 267 synagogues; many were allowed to burn to the ground in full view of idle firefighters.
Afterward, Nazi officials expressed sympathy -- for the German insurance companies that might have to pay for the damage.
You may already be enraged and disgusted by Perkins, but here are a few more data points. In 2007, in connection with the publication of his memoir “Valley Boy,” he allowed “60 Minutes” to profile him. He directed reporter Lesley Stahl’s attention to his 298-foot boat, the Maltese Falcon, and remarked, “I just wanted the biggest boat....Do I have an ego? Yes. Is it big? Yes.”
That same year he authored a Danielle Steel-type potboiler entitled “Sex and the Single Zillionaire.” Was this vanity project any good? One reviewer on Amazon.com’s website called it “an argument in favor of book-burning.”
Perkins was cast by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as one of the chief villains of the boardroom fight that ended with her ouster.
But nothing Perkins ever has done is as vulgar and disgraceful as writing this letter.