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The Top Twenty Most Out-There Things Tom Perkins Said Last Night
Scott Lucas | Photo: Courtesy Commonwealth Club | February 14, 2014
The venture capitalist who warned of a looming tech Kristallnacht doubled down on President Obama, the Google Bus, and voting.
Last night, controversial defender of the One Percent Tom Perkins took to the Commonwealth Cub to defend his views on taxation, capitalism, and his Nazi-dropping letter to the editors in the Wall Street Journal. Unsurprisingly for an old, crazy conservative, he said a lot of old, crazy, conversativey things. If you couldn't get tickets to the sold out event, you can watch the whole thing online. Or, better idea, don't watch it (it's pretty infuriating) and just read this synopsis.
1. On how the Chronicle's coverage of his ex-wife Danielle Steel's hedge triggered his letter: "It was a particularly nasty attack on my ex-wife which triggered my response. Being a Norwegian knight, I thought I should ride to her defense. I spilled a little more blood than I should have."
2. What his real beef with the paper is: "Danielle Steel's books are number one in the New York Times, but never reported on in the Chronicle."
3. His defense of American gun laws: "If Germany had American gun laws, there never would have been a Hitler."
4. Why the rich are being persecuted: "The extreme progressivity of taxation is a form of persecution. I think if you've paid 75% of your life's earnings to the government, you are being persecuted."
5. His views on the Google Bus controversy: "I find it almost incomprehensible to get angry about the Google Buses."
6. On what he views as the failure of federal anti-poverty programs: "The War on Poverty made it possible for a single woman to raise children without a man in the household."
7. Why the current wave of start-ups doesn't impress him: "Within a mile of here, there are a thousand startups. This is not a good thing. People are dropping out of MIT to do start ups, not to make companies. Their only route to liquidity is to sell to Google or Apple [...] It's not good for them. They're not learning how to be entrepreneurs, they're just learning how to write software applications."
8. Why the rich deserve to stay that way: "There's a high correlation [between the richest one percent and the most creative one percent]."
9. On his Dr. No-style public image: "When I started my laser company, the rioters in Berkeley thought it was a death ray."
10. Why he really, really, hates the Chronicle: "The year I ran the San Francisco Ballet, Herb Caen called me an idiot."
11. But why he just can't quit them: "I read the Chronicle every day."
12. A little dorm room bull session: "Philosophically, no one can prove they are connected to reality. I'm in the same boat as everybody else."
13. On the tech industies lack of economic responsiblity: "The tech community is making enough to pay higher rents. I don't see that as contributing to the problem of poverty."
14. What's holding back a better education system: "Education is getting worse because of, frankly, the teachers' union is making it impossible to have quality schools in the inner city."
15. On race and coding: "Silicon Valley is meritocracy. Simply a meritocracy. Race has nothing to do with it."
16. Go Down Under, young man: "If I were 20 years old, I would go to Australia. It's what California was when I came here in 1957. Upbeat, positive, can-do, and unaware of all kinds of problems."
17. On scaling back the welfare state: "I doubt that 77 million people need food stamps."
18. On the President: "[President Obama is] an amateur president."
19. What he meant by the looming tech Kristallnacht: "I'm talking about economic extinction, not physical extinction."
20. His big solution: "The Tom Perkins system is that you don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar in taxes. But what I really think is that it should be like a corporation. If you pay a million dollars, you should get a million votes."