Venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who last month famously suggested that opposition to income inequality was like anti-Jewish violence in Nazi Germany, repeated a version of that argument Thursday night in an interview in San Francisco with Fortune's Adam Lashinsky. And he said the wealthy should get more votes than poorer people. And he said other things you'll be mad about, because Tom Perkins is now just trolling you.
Mother Jones's Josh Harkinson was at the event, which was titled, unsubtly, "The War on the 1%." Later, Harkinson summarized Perkins' more extreme arguments:
- "if Germany had American gun laws, there would have never been a Hitler."
- the Koch brothers are victims of "persecution."
- he couldn't get his start as a paper boy these days due to "child labor laws"
- Silicon Valley "is a meritocracy. Race has absolutely nothing to do with it."
The one that got the most attention, though, was Perkins' vocal assertion that you should have to pay at least $1 in taxes to get to vote — and that those who pay $1 million in taxes should get 1 million votes accordingly. Politico picked that up without qualification; it's been the key takeaway from his talk on Twitter.
Harkinson, though, qualified that comment in his article and during his real-time coverage on Twitter. "Were you serious in the end about more votes for taxes," a reporter asked Perkins after the talk. "No," he replied, later saying that he was "trying to be outrageous."
"Perkins' talk seemed perfectly calculated to ignite further conflict," Harkinson writes. Everything about it has that sense, that Perkins' entire goal was to sit in the middle of San Francisco and throw more firebombs. This is what's known in the business as "trolling," and it's clear that Perkins has acquired a taste for it.
Who is Tom Perkins, anyway? He is one of a very large contingent of America's very wealthy, many others of whom have said similarly contentious things. He's not particularly powerful, any more than others with wealth and influence are powerful. He is enjoying the limelight and, having already violated Godwin's Law, doesn't have anything to lose from making further comments.
The proper response to a troll is not to lift up what he has to say, it is to ignore him. Let's.