On Sunday, rich, deluded San Francisco resident Tom Perkins wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal—which the WSJ published—complaining that Occupy Wall Street's attack on the 1% was just like what Nazis did to Jews, "This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?" Now, Perkins has some regrets about his choice of words, but he also wants you to know, "I could buy a six pack of Rolexes."
Perkins, who co-founded venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, spoke to Bloomberg TV's Emily Chang about the furor over his remarks. He said, "Well, I deeply apologize - this is the letter I wrote to the Anti-Defamation League. I deeply apologize to you and any who have mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-semitism. This is not the case."
However, then he told Chang, "The Jews were only 1 percent of the German population. Most Germans had never met a Jew, and yet Hitler was able to demonize the Jews and Kristallnacht was one of the earlier manifestations, but there had been others before it. And then of course we know about the evil of the Holocaust. I guess my point was that when you start to use hatred against a minority, it can get out of control. I think that was my thought." Godwin's Law, everyone!
KPCB disavowed Perkins' remarks, Tweeting, "Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree." And that really got Perkins riled up:
I didn’t mention Kleiner Perkins at all. They didn’t need to say anything, but they chose I guess to sort of throw me under the bus. And I didn’t like that. They - they said they were shocked. And I sort of feel like the guy saying, look, don’t go swimming. There are sharks in that water. And if you get shocked by that, you don’t understand the warning. I was presenting a warning. And I don’t - I don’t think they got that.And don't get him started on income inequality! Chang said, "Paul Krugman also pointed out that rising income inequality can have very negative economic and financial consequences in the sense that if there is - if it leaves us more economically vulnerable and the people who are rich can’t pay for stuff, then everyone suffers."
And then secondly, they made quite a point of my not having been involved for some years, and that’s true. And I think as I’ve distanced myself from the firm there’s been a corresponding decline in the firm, but I won’t go further than that. In a way, I miss them. I hope they miss me and we will bury the hatchet over this one.
Perkins said, "Well, just what you said is such a contradiction of intermixed ideas. He won the Nobel prize in economics. I can’t argue economics with him, but to demonize the job creators is crazy and to demonize the rich who spend and buy things and stimulate the economy is crazy. I heard on the news hour with - gosh, name escapes me. Anyway, New York Times, and they got into a discussion about the idiocy of Rolex watches and why does any man need a Rolex watch and it’s a symbol of - of terrible values and it’s - et cetera. Well, I think that’s a little silly. This isn’t a Rolex"—referring to his watch—"I could buy a six pack of Rolexes for this, but so what?"
Yes, it's worth about $379,000.
Perkins admitted his letter was sparked by a San Francisco Chronicle column that criticized his ex-wife Danielle Steel's ridiculous tall hedges outside her Pacific Heights home, "I felt sorry for her. I felt she was being victimized. She is the number-one author in the world, over a billion books in print. Finally outdid Agatha Christie. And she was awarded the French Legion of Honor for both literature and humanitarian activities. None of that was reported in the Chronicle. So I thought since I’m a knight, I’m a literal knight of the kingdom of Norway, I would get on my horse and charge forth in her defense. So we can see all the blood I’ve spilled in that process."
Let more blood spill—here's how he feels about affordable housing in San Francisco:
CHANG: But for the 99 percent, they can’t ignore the rising housing prices. So let me give you some numbers. Housing prices are up 50 percent in the last five years in San Francisco. The city hasn’t released the most recent data, but we know that only 269 new housing units were created in 2011. At the same time, from 2010 to 2012, 25,000 new people moved here. There just isn’t enough room for everyone.Yes, the market takes care of everything—like the 2008 crash.
PERKINS: Well, everybody wants to live in San Francisco and I don’t blame them. I - we’re getting into an area that honestly my qualifications are very thin, but rent control and things like that have a lot to do with this. And using capitalism to create more housing is part of the solution. Building the high rises is part of the solution and the Google buses are part of the solution I suppose. So - but this is a - I think the 99 percent across America should pay attention to politics, follow where it’s going, do read the newspapers. Don’t try to get everything over Twitter and Facebook. It’s not there. And worry about the future. Because right now I think America faces a very, very troubled future. I feel that we - I sometimes feel at least that we’ve gone past the point of no return. I hope I’m wrong.
CHANG: Do you at all feel their frustrations though?
PERKINS: Absolutely. Of course I do. I - I have members of my own family that are living in trailer parks. Not my immediate family, but relatives. Sure I do. Of course I do.
CHANG: What about the city of San Francisco?
PERKINS: Well, I think it - it - I believe that it’s always been overpriced and expensive. And after all, it was not called Nob Hill for nothing. The Nobbobs (ph) lived there and the Floods and the Huntingtons and so forth. So it has a long history of being wealthy and extravagant and desirable and a little crazy. It’s San Francisco.
CHANG: Is there an obligation - does the city of San Francisco have an obligation to have a place for everyone? Should everyone be allowed to or able to live here?
PERKINS: Emily, the marketplace if left alone will take care of that. Rents go up. Houses get built. The city should stay out of the economics of capitalism in my opinion.