By Jim Hightower on February 13, 2014

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.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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