Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Boy, just when you think the über-rich couldn't get any more narcissistic or nutty, along comes Tom Perkins.
He suddenly forced himself on us with a loud, self-pitying whine, which he let loose in a January letter to the Wall Street Journal. Perkins is a billionaire venture capital huckster who's not content to count his multitudinous blessings, but instead wants us to know how terribly difficult it is to be rich in America. "I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent," he wailed.
If he had stopped there, he would've revealed himself as just another ridiculous, old and crotchety billionaire (they do seem to be a dime a dozen these days). But Perkins has no brakes on his peevishness, so he hurtled right into the swamp of extreme nuttiness, asserting that the "progressive war on the American one percent" is like Nazi Germany's "war on its one percent, namely its Jews."
I thought, surely this guy is not real. Maybe he's a made-up character in one of Stephen Colbert's satirical skits. But, no, Perkins ranted on, insisting that just as anti-Semitism led to the rounding up of Jews in the hellish Kristallnacht of 1938, today's "demonization of the rich" would lead to a similar horror for America's wealthy minority.
Yeah, Tom, we see your point: Being a billionaire is as terrible as being subjected to the Holocaust.
He has since offered a lame apology to "any who have mistaken my reference." But he's still consumed by a whimpering narcissism, moaning that, "everyone now hates me." I don't know if Perkins has any loved ones around him, but if not, he should rent one -- someone who'll gently take away his writing implements and put him in a comfortable chair in a dark, quiet room, so he can be alone with his thoughts. And never bother us again with any of them.
Listen to this commentary: