Four Signs Billionaire Tom Perkins Has Lost Touch With Reality (and Why It Matters)

Tom Perkins. (Photo: <a href=jdlasica / Flickr)” width=”400″ height=”266″ />Tom Perkins. (Photo: jdlasica / Flickr)American multi-billionaire Tom Perkins can’t seem to avoid controversy lately. Whether he’s comparing himself to a Holocaust victim, calling for mass disenfranchisement, or even just writing erotica, the headlines are sure to follow.

While his views and actions are so bad they’re almost comical, it’s also serious business. Consider Perkins a case study into the mind of an inordinately wealthy man. Examining his out-of-touch perspective makes it clear how much money can warp a mind and disassociate him from how the rest of the world lives.

1. He Wants Rich People to Have More Votes

Hey, you know what’s wrong with American democracy? Wealthy people don’t have enough influence over the system! That’s the position of Perkins, at any rate. When asked how he would “change the world” at a symposium, Perkins suggested that not only should rich people be entitled to have more votes, but that Americans who don’t pay taxes shouldn’t get to vote at all. (Presumably, the tax dodging “people” — better known as corporations — that he admires would get an exemption.)

There’s nothing like calling for the disenfranchisement of nearly half the country to show genuine concern for equity and the political system. Whatever happened to the good old days when rich people just bought politicians to exert undue influence instead?

2. He Compares Contempt for the 1% to the Holocaust

It’s time to add Perkins to the growing list of rich jerks who throw a fit when you don’t love them enough. In an op-ed letter for the Wall Street Journal, Perkins bemoans the 99%’s hostility toward the 1%, calling it a “progressive war.” In fact, he actually makes the analogy that the 1% in the United States are treated like Jewish people were in Nazi Germany.

With awful comparisons like that, there’s no wonder that he feels resentment from the lower and middle classes. Though Perkins ultimately delivered a non-apology apology for his statement, he insisted that the “parallel holds” and reiterated the “danger” of having animosity toward the rich.

3. He’s Guilty of Both Showing Off and Involuntary Manslaughter

Cheekily, Perkins once said he had plenty of money to donate to charity, but that he’d rather spend it on the world’s largest boat. Subsequently, he spent $130 million on a giant luxury yacht. Along the boat, he included maritime flags that spelled out – no joke – “Rarely does one have the privilege to witness vulgar ostentation on such a grand scale.” Passing seafarers probably got a kick out of that one, but if they were smart, they didn’t pass too closely.

His love of boats and boasting got him into trouble when he had an accident at sea that killed a fellow sailor. France charged him with involuntarily manslaughter, and despite finding him guilty, only punished him with a “suspended” sentence and a $10,000 fine. $10 grand doesn’t even amount to a slap on the wrist for someone who drops $130 million on a yacht.

4. He Writes Smut

At the encouragement of his ex-wife Danielle Steel (yes, that Danielle Steel), Perkins published a book called “Sex and the Single Zillionaire.” Perkins wrote the erotic fiction based loosely on his real life experience. The Wall Street Journal excerpted a passage describing the novel’s protagonists: “They were obviously father and son, with the same tall, athletic build. They were so handsome that they could have made money modeling, if anyone could afford to hire them. The aura of money seemed to float around them.”

The arrogance really shines through there, huh? I’m not even going to try to recount any of the many bizarre sex scenes… and if the Amazon reviews of the book are any indication, I’m doing you a favor.

It’s important that the rest of the country acknowledge money’s transformative property on the 1%’s worldview:

  • When the majority of Congress is comprised of millionaires, our representatives have little sense of how most of America actually lives.
  • When Citizens United allows the rich to make unlimited campaign donations, the rich’s influence has little concern for the interest of the less fortunate.
  • When the wealthiest individuals hog all of the world’s resources and still feel like the victims, we can’t expect them to grow a conscience and help solve inequality.

The time for a 99% revolution is here. I can only imagine what analogy Perkins would make when things actually didn’t go his way for once!