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Tom Perkins' Animal Farm and that ol' time propaganda

Perkins' recent attacks on the 99 percent sound much like Orwell's classic.
Perkins' recent attacks on the 99 percent sound much like Orwell's classic.
photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images

He calls himself “the king of Silicon Valley,” owns a $130 million yacht, and brags that his designer wristwatch costs more than “a six-pack of Rolexes,” but Tom Perkins thinks the odds are stacked against him.

And against the other multimillionaires who make up the “1 Percent” of the U.S. population, too, as he opined in a recent letter published January 24 by the Wall Street Journal, and expounded upon in a forum hosted by the Commonwealth Club on February 13.

You see, those wealthiest of Americans have to pay too much in taxes, gosh darn it, and no one appreciates that. In fact, “it’s persecution,” he says.

Sure, Tom. Just forget that the U.S. has just about the lowest tax rates (on both wealth and corporations) of all developed nations, is currently charging its wealthy citizens and corporations the lowest tax since income taxes were ever applied in this country, and actually taxes poverty in both income and sales tax. And don’t (forget to) forget that 10 percent of the largest companies in the country pay zilch in taxes, too.

But that’s not good enough for Tom Perkins, apparently.

“I don’t think people have any idea what the one percent is actually contributing to America.”

And don’t try complaining, middle class, because Perkins will try to stamp you with a swastika. He declared that any complaints by the 99 percent were equal to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Instead of having an immediate reaction of anger to Perkins’ hypocrisy, though, I’m only reminded of high school English Lit. Remember George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”? How all the animals were called to rise up, but in the end only for the interests of the leading ones (which, quite appropriately, were pigs)? How the leaders, Napoleon and Snowball, complained when the other animals contested their self-indulgent practices? And doesn’t that remind you of Perkins’ claim of a repressed one percent?

The analogy can continue, too. Just like when Napoleon closed all farm meetings only to other pigs, Perkins says that wealth should have more influence on government than other income groups. At his recent Commonwealth address, he said:

“If you pay $1 million in taxes, you should get a million votes. How’s that?”

And just like Perkins’ comparison of middle-class Americans to Nazis, Napoleon told other farm animals that their failure to accept pigs as a ruling class would lead to return of an inhumane farmer.

“Animal Farm” even seems to have previewed the Tea Party. Remember Boxer, the loyal (and gullible) workhorse who supported the pigs, accepted their rule without contest, and defended them when it came to battle?

Boxer had to return to work despite the wounds he suffered from defending the pigs. When he collapsed, Napoleon told the other animals that he was calling a doctor; instead, though, he only sold Boxer to a slaughterer, and used the money to buy liquor.

This same oppression from Orwell’s novel – that same oligarchy corporate communism – is what Perkins and other one-percenters want to apply.

And I don’t want to live in a world like Orwell’s other classic of “1984.”

You can see Perkin’s Wall Street Journal letter here. If you care to muster through his hour-long interview with the Commonwealth Club, try this link.

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