Perkins: Rich Should Get More Votes

Remember Tom Perkins, the billionaire who wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal saying that we’re on the verge of treating rich people like the Nazis treated the Jews? Believe it or not he’s now said something even more loathsome and idiotic than that.

The venture capitalist offered the unorthodox proposal when asked to name one idea that would “change the world” at a speaking engagement in San Francisco moderated by Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky.

“The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes,” Perkins said.

“But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?”

The audience at the Commonwealth Club reacted with laughter. But Perkins offered no immediate indication that he was joking. Asked offstage if the proposal was serious, Perkins said: “I intended to be outrageous, and it was.”

Perkins seemed to be aware that he was courting controversy, saying that his voting proposal would “make you more angry than my letter to the Wall Street Journal.”

Oh, there’s a simple way to do this. We’ll just count non-rich people as 3/5ths of a human being.

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  • How silly. Any serious scholar will you that voting should be based one’s ability to quote Monty Python, Caddyshack, and Roadhouse. And what a coincidence, I just happen to be proficient at all those! How fortuitous!

  • We’ll just count non-rich people as 3/5ths of a human being.

    That seems awful high.


    Pressed for examples of how the rich were being demonized, Perkins said that he feared higher taxes. (fm the article)

    {monocle pops out}


    “The fear is wealth tax, higher taxes, higher death taxes — just more taxes until there is no more 1%. And that that will creep down to the 5% and then the 10%,” he said (fm the article)

    {other monocle pops out}

  • erichoug

    Ugh, conservatives! Several years ago there was an idea floating around the conservatives in my office that basically boiled down to property requirements for voting.

    Finally one of them told me (an apartment dweller at the time) that he felt that if you didn’t own property, you shouldn’t get to vote.

    Well, one of their favorite slogans was no taxation without representation. So, I told him that I was glad to give up my vote. If, in exchange, I was exempt from all city, county, state, federal and other taxes and governmental duties.

    That pretty much put an end to their property requirement.

    The problem is that a lot of these people just don’t think it through.

  • Ryan Jean

    I saw that on Saturday, and wrote the following reply on Facebook:

    New crazy voter idea (To battle that stupid $1 per vote rich idiot idea that is quite literally an idea for the rich to finish buying the government in full): Every citizen one vote, plus one additional vote for every 5% of the effective tax rate — but only beyond the capital gains tax rate — that you actually paid. Include STATE taxes in the calculation. The rich would be reduced to an average of 1-3 votes (since most of their income is capital gains), while the middle-class and (due to state tax inclusion) working lower-class would jump to double that. The people that actually shoulder the burdens of society get the benefit.

    Mind you, I don’t believe this should be enacted either, but there isn’t a good argument for why we should take absolute taxes paid as a better metric than the percent paid, so it is quite effective in getting idiots to stop prattling off the $1-per-vote nonsense.

  • caseloweraz

    I think everyone should have to sing Banks of Marble before being allowed to vote, for every federal election.

    And Tom Perkins should have to sing it every day when he wakes up. Until he wakes up.

  • Chiroptera

    You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes.

    Sounds like a better system than the one we have: if you give a million dollars to both candidates’ campaigns, then you get all the votes.

  • Has anyone tried explaining to Perkins that he’s proving the critics of the rich correct?

    When I hear some rich, hyper-privileged asshole tell me that he deserves extra votes, I start to think it’s time for pitchforks.

  • ShowMetheData

    GE gets a tax credit of 3.2 billion dollars – their shareholders throw their votes into a negative pool of votes. Then poor people can use those votes. And landlords also have negative votes because the poor tenants pay all the taxes for them.

  • shouldbeworking

    That idea might encourage the rich to actually pay their share of taxes, instead of into off-shore accounts and tax breaks for overly pamperied horses.

  • Artor

    Conveniently, Perkins’ idea counts out some of the biggest corporations, as I think GE and several other payed zero in taxes last year, and actually got millions (billions?) back in subsidies.

  • Erp

    It is actually an old idea.

    In England before 1948 plural voting existed. One common way was to be a graduate of either Oxford or Cambridge (the two universities had their own MPs) as well as meeting the property requirements to vote for a local representative (it was also possible to meet the requirements to vote for more than one local representative).

  • thebookofdave

    Oh, there’s a simple way to do this. We’ll just count non-rich people as 3/5ths of a human being.

    I’ve heard of that idea proposed as a solution to poverty, but as an enfranchisement condition, it still doesn’t go quite far enough to guarantee job creators their fair share of political expression. Since Tom Perkins has demonstrated the ability to top his previous act, expect his next voting system to be based not on the amount of taxes you pay, but on the number people you own.

  • jnorris

    The same legislation that would approve this should also mandate that the states that receive more money from the federal government than they pay to the government will not have any federal vote. That is, welfare states cannot vote for president and their reps and senators can observe in Congress but not vote.

    Also, one has to bring the actual dollars to the polling place to vote a billion times. Not a stock statement, bank balance, or tax return, only the actual dollar bills.

  • thebookofdave

    Taking your idea a step further, jnorris: extra ballots should be dispensed by vending machine, which accept only $1 bills. Since only 1% of the population are eligible to use them, a handful of machines will do, all located in urban poor precincts.

  • eric

    A dollar per vote is government regulated price-setting…why, that’s pratically socialism! Clearly what we need to do here is create a pool of extra votes and then auction them – let the market decide how much a vote is worth.

    While that’s facetious, I do take a bit of dark humor in thinking about Trump and the Koch brothers bidding each other up until one of them is donating hundreds of millions of dollars in what is essentially bonus tax money, for the privilege of getting 100 extra presidential votes in Ohio.

  • dingojack

    Eric – I go further still. Require that the richest citizen* in the country** must pay for the entire US military budget for the four year term (up front, no cheques) – unless, of course, they can prove that they are not the richest citizen by having them swap fortunes with some other citizen(s). Worked for the Athenians.




    * or group thereof

    ** non-citizen don’t get to vote