(RNS) Venture capitalist Tom Perkins took a beating by his former employer for likening today’s class warfare to the Holocaust, with the mega-wealthy 1 percent as victims of “Nazi” repression.

warsaw ghetto

A group of Jews are taken prisoner during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of April 1943. Religion News Service File Photo.


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In what The Wall Street Journal obediently termed a “Progressive Kristallnacht,” the grand old man of Silicon Valley said those who criticize wealth inequality are like Nazis pursuing “class demonization.”

The firm he founded, known as Kleiner Perkins, immediately disavowed the 82-year-old Perkins, saying, “We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.”

I can’t imagine what bubble of privilege Perkins inhabits that would cause him to play the Holocaust card in a time of actual genocides around the world and trespassing on the actual suffering of Jews in Nazi Europe.

To be winning and yet still whining is insufferable and tone-deaf.

So let’s do some further schooling of Tom Perkins.

Class war isn’t a resentment of success. It is a reaction against stealing, unearned privilege and arrogance.

The mega-wealthy have engineered a salary structure that pays them far more than executives have ever earned. They have frozen or reduced compensation for all others. They have rewarded executives for anti-social behavior like offshoring jobs, acquiring companies and then slicing payrolls, and moving workers to part-time without benefits wherever possible.

All this while moving their own wealth offshore to minimize taxes, living in Gilded Age opulence and being proud of it, and creating a class of lawyers, advisers, and lobbyists who earn lofty salaries for nothing more than preserving the wealth of the wealthy.

The aggression of an Occupy movement — short-lived, yet impactful — doesn’t come close to the aggression that the mega-wealthy employ to defend their turf and aggrandize their wealth.

They cheat: The banking scandals of the past decade were basically about cheating; Silicon Valley firms like Google monetize trust by selling privacy.

They buy politicians and political campaigns and gladly corrupt governments. They fight minimum wage increases, the provision of affordable health care, food stamps and unemployment benefits — as if any dollar spent on helping the less fortunate was a dollar they couldn’t get their hands on.

Now people are waking up to what has been done to them. They resent it, and they want it to end. Defenders of the greed machine are pushing back.

So, yes, a class war is underway. It has been waged by the wealthy against all others, but now the underclasses are becoming more informed.

This isn’t the Nazi era revisited. It is the American Revolution, when “embattled farmers” stopped tolerating the predations of the rich.

The American dream doesn’t mean watching the mega-wealthy buy magnificent sailboats, live in mansions or hold self-congratulatory conferences. The dream is to work hard, have one’s work recognized, build careers, live better today than yesterday, send one’s children to college and beyond, and retire with adequate means.

The American dream isn’t a spectator sport. It is participation. And when the mega-wealthy like Tom Perkins presume to grab far more than they deserve and then to preen as superior beings, while denying the dream to others, something is profoundly wrong.

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. Photo courtesy Tom Ehrich

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. Photo courtesy Tom Ehrich


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

If Perkins wants an historical antecedent, he might consult the final days of the Roman Empire, when a corrupt ruling class abandoned any pretense of wisdom and civility and simply stole, bullied and lived large.

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @tomehrich.)

YS/AMB END EHRICH

5 Comments

  1. I suggest Ehrich get a job with the DNC because he’s so good at carrying the water for that group and promoting its fictions.

    The deserving poor want jobs, and I suggest that they do not envy the rich but would rather strive to become like them. The rest of “the poor” are content with someone taking care of them, and they represent the base of the Democrat Party and are driven to the polling stations after being fed so that they can properly vote for the Dems one more time–maybe multiple times in the same election.

    One can argue whether the multi-millions paid some CEO’s–and recent escapees from urban poverty into major league sports–should be paid that much. Stockholders can have a say in all this if they choose to. They don’t.

    The only war being waged is by the bigmouths in Dem party politics–and by their stooges among the liberal clergy and media.

    Would that these same stooges had as much concern for the true origins of the culture war that has been part of our society for just as long. Nope, assaulting religion and other societal values is ok. Not only ok, but actually encouraged by them, Evidence is found among those who write columns for RNS.

    • There you go Duane, trying to pretend anything uncomfortable for your political views is somehow fiction.

      All I have to say is calling the people who made $1 trillion disappear in a puff of smoke six years ago (when their lying, gaming the system and illegal business practices reached their limitations), “job creators” is being just plain silly. =)

  2. Unearned privilege and respect?

    ” The dream is to work hard, have one’s work recognized, build careers, live better today than yesterday, send one’s children to college and beyond, and retire with adequate means.”

    So I guess you would be against unemployment insurance and government safety nets.

  3. “Unearned privilege” includes tax breaks for religions and clergy housing allowances; not even “progressive” clergy seem to mind taking “Caesar’s” money this way. Apparently gold does smell unless put into the collection plate.

  4. What evidence do you have that Perkins “stole” anything? That’s a pretty outrageous statement supported by no facts.

    You rail against greed. At least “greed” produces a prosperous nation. What does envy do?

    Finally, I have searched far and wide and cannot find your column denouncing Al Gore for saying that those who deny global warming are just like Holocaust deniers.

    Your outrage is selective and manufactured. But it’s OK I expect nothing less from the Intolerant Left.

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