back to article Google bus protests are Kristallnacht against the rich – tech VC legend

One of Silicon Valley's most venerable venture capitalists has provoked a storm by saying protests against private buses for hi-tech workers in the Bay Area, and the "demonization of the rich" by some, has parallels with the German Kristallnacht pogrom. "This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A very important part of America, namely the creative one per cent, is threatened," he asserted. "The one per cent are not causing the inequality. They are the job creators. It's obscene to demonize the rich for being rich and doing what the rich do, which is get richer by creating opportunity for others."

    And the unemployed, and the disabled, and the homeless, and all the other non-Aryans only have themselves to blame.

    1. Charles Manning


      I don't know if you can blame the unemployed, the homeless etc, but smashing the buses won't get them employment or homes etc.

      There is only one way I'll ever run as fast as Usain Bolt and that is if he walks. Slowly. When that happens we don't have two high performing runners. We have two miserable losers. Everyone loses because we've lost that sprinter's capability.

      There is only one road to equality:reduce everyone's productivity and earning until we're all equally homeless, unemployed etc. Then nobody can afford anything. In particular, nobody will be able to afford to hire anyone else, eat out etc. The service jobs and tips that low-end earners depend on will then go away....

      It is the high performers that create the surpluses in society that allow the low performers to tag along for the ride. If everyone is just eeking by then nobody is paying that lovely tax that pays for food stamps, unemployment allowances, etc.

      Sounds like an own goal to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Charles Manning - Re: Blame

        You're absolutely right. American dream is beautiful if you are a white young male, stinking rich and in good health.

        Basically your post is a reasonable argument in favor of slavery: if you don't allow yourself to be exploited we will all suffer.

        I'm not implying that we should all be using a bike or driving a 5000$ car. At 150000$ you can consider a decent car so please enlighten us on how is somebody amassing several multimillion cars fitting in your theory ?

      2. User McUser

        Re: Blame

        It is the high performers that create the surpluses in society that allow the low performers to tag along for the ride. If everyone is just eeking by then nobody is paying that lovely tax that pays for food stamps, unemployment allowances, etc.

        Thanks Ayn Rand.

        Nobody is suggesting that the rich be taxed out of existence, but it would be nice if they put a little more into the pot. If we're all working together trying to move a heavy load, why can't the strongest persons bear the most weight?

      3. Eric Olson

        Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

        The analogy is misguided. It relies on a genetic predisposition that could only be realized with copious amounts of training and resource investment and then it used as some kind of benchmark by which we should all somehow measure ourselves against.

        Also, your tilt at the mythical equality champion falls a bit flat once people realize that only a small minority subscribe to a Marxist utopia or other similar paradigm. The reality is that equality, even in the loosest of definition, doesn't exist today, even in the richest nations. If it did exist, outside of the equal opportunity we share to have our mortal remains returned to the earth, many of the issues that plague us today might be less prominent.

        The problem that a Tom Perkins or other 1% self-made martyr fails to understand is that we don't begin in the same starting blocks. In the 100m sprint of life, to rework your sprinter analogy, most of the 1% began somewhere around or after the 50m mark. Almost all of the richest came from at least a median household, and few who begin in a median household end up back at the starting line. It's an imperfect analogy, as it's a race few ever "complete" before they die, and people run backwards for a variety of reasons. But he's complaining that others are pointing out that he's further along and they think he got an unfair start, they were unduly hampered, etc.

        That's not to say he didn't earn his wealth, but who's to say that if he were placed in different circumstances as a child, he would have ever attained what he did? The statistics say he likely wouldn't have advanced as far, and he might have just been a really dedicated coal miner or assembly line worked. Luck of the draw is more to do with the circumstances of your birth than the DNA you acquired during conception.

        And finally, we really need to set aside the whole notion that your worth is measured only by what someone else is willing to pay you for a specific set of skills that may have nothing to do with survival or flourishing. We all have basic needs to meet, and if those are met, I don't see how it is anyone's business what I do after that.

        I hope that a bit more bipartisan work towards revamping the idea of welfare (individual and corporate) into a basic income or guaranteed income notion, much like what some Swiss are trying to push. Everyone of a certain age and legal status (commonly legal permanent residents and citizens) are given a stipend each year that covers the costs of basic living, and do it as a cash benefit. Whatever that person wants to do with it, they can. This idea has proponents on both the right and left, because it replaces other inefficient forms of welfare, reduces bureaucratic overhead, is easy to implement, and since everyone is getting the same check, no one can whine like a jilted 5 year old on the playground about not getting their fair share. Tax based on income earned beyond that stipend, and keep it roughly equal up the chain. You could also do away with minimum wages or other wage supports and people can move wherever they want for a job without fear of losing benefits (a huge problem in the US today).

        1. Charles Manning

          Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

          I am not at all adverse to "hand ups" and ensuring that people get good opportunities (part of the reason I don't actually have any problem paying taxes and living in a place like NZ).

          Free education (that results in useful output), or at least very well subsidised education, is a really good thing.

          Guaranteed income is like life-long dole. It is destructive. Why even get out of bed if there is no incentive?

          Some of us are more productive than others and to get the most out of the economy, and thus the most wealth into society, we need to make sure we're all doing what we can. When someone doesn't feel like being a truck driver (all he's capable of) because he can get the same money doing nothing, then society loses a truck driver. Someone else has to drive that truck and is therefore not doing something else.

          Trying to achieve fairness is ill founded. How do you even measure fairness anyway?

          For example,John screws around partying his whole adolescence then at age 16 takes a job pushing supermarket trolleys from 9am to 5pm sharp. Fred studies his arse off, goes to university and burns midnight oil. He enters the workplace at 22. Is it fair that Fed gets paid the same as John? Of course not.

          Ultimately what makes it fair is getting the same access to education etc (as is the case in NZ). If you don't get off yer bum and make the most of the resources put in front of you, then should everyone else be penalised?

          1. frank ly

            Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

            "Free education (that results in useful output), ..."

            So, no encouragement of artistic 'tendencies', no debating classes or teaching of methods of logical thought and argument. Certainly no history lessons or any depth in geography, beyond that needed to shuffle along to the multinational owned factory in the morning.

            "Trying to achieve fairness is ill founded. How do you even measure fairness anyway?"

            If you keep them ignorant, they won't have a chance of even thinking about it.

          2. beep54

            Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

            For example, W spends most of his life partying, cheerleading and generally wasting money that was given him. Is it fair that he actually ends up as a Governor and then President. Of course not.

          3. TheOtherHobbes

            Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

            >"Some of us are more productive than others"

            Being rich != being productive.

            When earned wealth has some relationship with actual social value, then we can talk about being productive.

            As it is now the easiest way to get wealthy is to be born rich and contribute nothing of use to anyone.

            And that's the opposite of your 'hard work' argument, isn't it?

            Oh - and in case you haven't noticed, John and Fred are being paid the same now, and it's somewhere between not much and nothing.

            That's what happens when you put MBAs in charge. They try to make everything 'competitive', which is a useful euphemism for 'fuck you if you do useful work for a living and expect to be paid for it.'

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon

              Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

              The only way a guaranteed income could work (without de-motivating) is if the basic requirements for life are fixed in price, and the income matches the requirement for buying aforementioned basics.

              Everything else, by definition, would be a luxury and you would have to actually do something in order to obtain it.

              Deciding what is a requirement for life is also likely going to cause arguments.

              For me, it would be something like, clean water, 2 portions of veg, 1 portion meat, some bread and butter, a warm dry place to sleep, basic clothes/shoes etc.

              If I had all of the above without having to do anything for it, I could choose whether or not to contribute to society and my own bank balance in order to afford other things I might consider essential, but not necessary to life.

              However, I do see a lot of people consider things like Sky TV to be an essential. I earn good money, but I've given up Sky because it's a money pit - but I see a sky dish* and wacking great flat-screen tv's in many living rooms of people who are supposedly poor.

              *the dish is usually on the outside of the house of course, not inside the living room.

              No system is perfect, but anything that could simplify the process and reduce the costs to taxpayers is a good thing, as long as the repercussions are thought through.

              The phrase 'common-sense' needs to be renamed in the modern era, since it seems to be increasingly rare and unfashionable.

          4. AbeSapian

            Re: Blame @ Charles Manning

            "Free education (that results in useful output), or at least very well subsidised education, is a really good thing."

            My that's a big word. Can you say, "Metropolis?"

            Everyone deserves the same access to quality education. One of the principle objections I have to No Child Left Behind is that it promotes a class of techno-drones that may be good for programming or operating machinery but lack the foundations in history, philosophy, and political science to serve in society's leadership positions.

      4. Ancientbr IT

        Re: Blame

        You may be confused. The better analogy (one that is more prescient, IMHO) is with the creative, successful aristos in pre-Revolution France being unfairly criticized by the peasants. If the 1% had any of the super-intelligence that's supposedly attributed to them, they'd see the writing on the wall.

        Bear in mind that in the last thirty years in the US, the wealthiest have managed collectively to engineer themselves into a position where they pay far, far less in taxes than they used to, so they take more from society and contribute less. It's little wonder that the 99% are pissed. The safety nets that used to cushion them in times of severe hardship have been eroded by the actions of the 1% and their thoughtless supporters.

        The 1% also don't generate jobs - they exploit others for their own benefit. Job creation has always been driven from the bottom by consumers - nobody in the commercial world generates jobs in a vacuum, they respond (slowly) to demand, and that demand comes from people with money to spend.

        Under normal circumstances that spending power comes from having a reasonably well paid job, but the drive over the last three decades has been to devalue compensation for all but the apex of the pyramid while at the same time weakening government so that it cannot fulfill its proper function of shoring up the economy in times of distress.

        The only own goal is being repeatedly scored by the 1% as they tilt society towards a disruption that is history repeating itself.

      5. AbeSapian

        Re: Blame

        Believing that the 1% create jobs in America is like believing in the Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Actually, you stand a better chance with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy because, in one form or another, they actually deliver.

        The job creators are and always have been small businesses - the owners of which are as far from the 1% as the poorest of the poor statistically speaking.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Class War UK

      In the UK politics is the new Class war with the Labour Party Demonising anyone who is successful.

      At least no one will take this American idiot seriously, but every time someone from the Labour Party opens their mouth and says what that are going to do if they win the next election millions are wiped off the markets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: millions are wiped off the markets.

        So what?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: millions are wiped off the markets.

          "So what"

          You'll get a lower Pension!

      2. Graham Marsden

        @AC - Re: Class War UK

        "In the UK politics is the new Class war with the Labour Party Demonising anyone who is successful."

        Thank you for those words from the Tory Party spokesman who went on to demonise anyone who is unemployed by implicitly characterising them as not "Hard Working" and not "Honest" and suggesting that anyone on benefits is a workshy scrounger and parasite...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Graham Marsden

          I also like how the Tory use of "hardworking families" to contrast with alleged benefits wasters implicitly divides people into "hardworking" and "on benefits", conveniently distracting from the fact that many benefits claimants *are* in work, yet still require benefits to make a living wage.

          Or is "hardworking" Tory dog-whistle for "middle-class people in well-paid jobs" that doesn't include working, but lower-class non-Tory-voters?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Class War UK

        "In the UK politics is the new Class war with the Labour Party Demonising anyone who is successful."

        It's already been pointed out that the entrenchment and normalisation of the post-Thatcher neo-liberal orthodoxy can be seen in how anything even marginally at odds with the "free" market is attacked as "Stalinist" and the like.

        This is starting to become reminiscent of America, where some Republicans genuinely (and laughably) believe that the corporate-supported "liberal" Barack Obama and the Democrats are communist, despite clearly being the flip-side of the same business-friendly establishment.

        Similarly, it's an indication of how established the shifting of the goalposts in UK politics has become when the ineffectual, sold-out “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” Labour Party's milksop concession to its long-abandoned principles gets to be painted as a rabidly anti-business agenda.

  2. Tank boy

    Another way to say it

    I got mine Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.

    1. AbelSoul

      Re: I got mine Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.

      Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.

  3. FrankAlphaXII

    >>which is get richer by creating opportunity for others

    Anyone still believing in that Reagan/Thatcher-era "trickle down" bullshit, please turn off the lights when you're done being delusional.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tom Perkins sounds like a modern day Marie Antoinette

    Being out of touch and lacking sensitivity is reflected in extreme self indulgence like building the largest yacht in the world, and in invoking Goodwin's law. He seems to be lacking compassion and doesn't begin to understand the core issue where capital and labor are no longer balanced forces, where capital is generated by pushing mountains of made-up debt to the poor, and enslaving whole countries via austerity. He doesn't seem to be grasping the current crony-capitalism (not a free market by any means) flaws, fiat-money, globalization, outsourcing people and replacing them by machines, financial assets outstripping real assets, the growing polarization... Who will be left to buy the mega-corporations products soon? This would inevitably end badly for the super rich. They all should catch up on some French history.

  5. Turtle

    @ Charles Manning

    "There is only one road to equality:reduce everyone's productivity and earning until we're all equally homeless, unemployed etc. Then nobody can afford anything."

    So it's important that the rich be able to afford things that the poor can't, or else no one could afford them?

    Well the poor can't afford those things already. So if the rich won't be able to afford them then what, exactly, have the poor lost? They've lost less than you think, clearly.

    And if the rich were doing such a good job at creating economic opportunity, then why are the ranks of the middle class diminishing and the ranks of the low-income (those living on the edge of poverty and in constant danger of falling into it) swelling?

    As it has been put before, this is what happens when people are "making money" instead of "making stuff". Google and San Fran/Oakland is a really good example of this. Google siphons off $50 billion a year from the economy, they create nothing and destroy quite a bit, and the pay that their parasite-employees get has raised the cost of living to the point where people are beginning to take direct action. There are some here who seem to think that they should just shut up and go live in refrigerator boxes but that's not going to happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @ Charles Manning

      " the ranks of the middle class diminishing and the ranks of the low-income (those living on the edge of poverty and in constant danger of falling into it) swelling?"

      Tell me again why I can't afford a decent house^ when I have a six-figure salary?

      ^In a good year. A 1970's ex-council house three-bed semi in a non-slum environment near where I'm renting just sold for £500k.

      Every time I have learnt some more and achieved a better paying job, the house of my dreams continues to recede from my grasp. I'm no closer to my 4 bed detached house in the country (not under an airport) than I was 20 years ago when I was on £15k.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Charles Manning

        "the house of my dreams continues to recede from my grasp."

        In that case your dreams are unrealistic, you may have to settle for the silver roof and not platinum!

        If you are on a six figure salary that would put you in the top 10% earners in the country (Over 100k) it also puts you at about 4x the national average salary... if you cant find a house on that then YOU have set yourself an unrealistic target.

        You say: "in a good year. A 1970's ex-council house three-bed semi in a non-slum environment near where I'm renting just sold for £500k" if you're on a 6 figure salary then that shouldn't be out of your reach at all - if anything its a bit below what I would expect you to be looking at...

        A basic run through the nat west mortgage calculator says that on 100k you would be looking at 520k mortgage (more if you bump up to a higher interest rate or longer term of repayment...

        But now we are well off topic.... What was it again, busses?

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    Eat the rich

    A good source of protein.

    I like mine medium-rare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eat the rich

      Nah, long pig should be cooked slowly and thoroughly to a juicy

      WELL DONE! [You don't know where they've been.]

    2. AbeSapian

      Re: Eat the rich

      Slow dipped feet first into boiling lard. Then served with garlic butter, fava beans, and a bottle of good Chianti.

  7. Laurel Kornfeld

    As the child of a Kristallnacht survivor and as a supporter of Occupy, I find Perkins' comments bordering on the obscene. Kristallnacht was a targeting of innocent people for nothing more than their ethnic identity. It was the beginning of one of the darkest periods in human history, leading to the systematic murder of 12 million innocent civilians. Occupy, in contrast, is not a violent movement, and it is not targeting people for who they are; it is targeting predatory behaviors by the one percent that are decimating the middle class and driving more and more Americans into poverty. There is a huge difference between bigotry, which is hate blindly based on who people are, and righteous indignation in response to things people do--specifically, perpetrating injustice and oppression. What Occupy opposes are the means by which the one percent continue to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else in this country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      senile dementia

      When an 82-year-old says something a bit daft, isn't the polite thing just to ignore them rather than behave like a bunch of outraged undergraduates?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: like a bunch of outraged undergraduates?

        Oh, like back when we had principles and integrity?

        It's much better to give up and spend your time shouting down those who do still care.

    2. AbeSapian


      Hallelujah sister.

  8. solo

    Richer creating more jobs

    " get richer by creating opportunity for others..."

    For tech companies promoting AI, how more automation is about creating more jobs? Does he know what automation is?

    I don't blame this (poor) old man though. He might be right if talking about the rising era of the industrialization.

  9. localzuk Silver badge

    Being successful isn't the issue

    The way those who are successful hoard money, and don't actually go around doing what they say they do (job creation) is the problem to many.

    I have absolutely no issue whatsoever with those people who have a warehouse full of cars, $300m yachts and a portfolio of houses. Those people are in fact creating jobs. People have to build all those things. Excess is a good thing for the economy.

    I also don't have a problem with those people who invest in other companies which grow and employ people.

    I have issue with those who simply build up huge fortunes. Sure, they might spend a bit of it occasionally, and might donate to charity sometimes (to reduce their taxes), but overall they hoard it.

    Those are the people who are damaging. And they are the people that the misguided angst here should be talking about. Smashing the buses of companies that are creating jobs and growing the economy is just dumb.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Wealth creation bogosity

      The point is that as technology improves, new jobs appear where those workers can be useful instead.

      1. Ancientbr IT

        Re: Wealth creation bogosity

        The point is that as technology improves, new jobs appear where those workers can be useful instead.

        Those new jobs may or may not appear, but where they do, it is erroneous to assume that those cast out from one industry will be able to instantly walk into a position in a different industry.

        Few of us can go from pin maker to Senior Principal Business Analyst overnight, even if we had the wherewithal to pay for the tuition required - and even then, we'd be beaten at interview by the person who has been a Principal Business Analyst for some years already.

        At this point someone is going to suggest that all along the pin maker should have been taking night classes to qualify as a Business Analyst. The problem with that is the pin maker's employer has been demanding that he work 16 hour shifts and at the same time has been exploiting loopholes to avoid paying overtime (or benefits), leaving the pin maker unable to afford the time (or the money involved) to try to improve his (or her) lot. Burnout is inevitable.

        If the state subsidized serious training courses so that the unemployed pin maker could spend the years of study necessary to climb the professional ladder, all the while supporting the pin maker and family with food, rent, utilities and full medical benefits, then maybe - just maybe - the equation would work. But not when the employer and even other pin makers oppose any government capable of providing such support...

  11. big_D Silver badge

    The Problem

    isn't so much that the Silicon Valley developers earn too much (although you could probably argue that a great number do), but that this creates an imbalance in the area.

    There is something wrong, when the people who work in San Francisco cannot afford to live there, although this is reflected elsewhere around the world, such as London. Does this mean the rich are in the wrong and should give up their wealth, no, not necessarily, but it does show the flaws in the system.

    What also exasserbates the problem in San Francisco is that the Silicon Valley companies are trying to keep their people at work as long as possible, to get their money's worth from them, that they are rolling in benefits, such as laundry, meals, gyms etc. so that these jobs in and around 'Frisco are getting less custom and therefore earning less money, which in turn means those living in 'Frisco and not working in Silicon Valley, have even less choice, because SV is inadvertently destroying the local economy.

    What would be better, from a community spirit point of view, would be for the SV employers to work with the services in 'Frisco and, instead of in-house gyms give employees free or discounted membership to gyms in the neighbourhoods where they live, restraunt vouchers, contracts with local laundry services etc.

    This would have the benefit of supporting the local community and forcing the workers to interact with the people who live next to them.

    The buses, in and of themselves are a good idea, it reduces congestion for the non-SV-employees, but it is another sympton of the problem, that the SV employees don't fit in, in their communities, because they work long hours and everything they need outside of work is provided by their employers, so they have no need to show a human face to their community. They are the "rich", faceless outsiders, who are destroying the neighbourhood.

    1. David Barrett

      Re: The Problem

      You raise some good points, but the basic idea of having these services available "under one roof" is convenience to the employees, If I'm having to rush out to collect dry cleaning before the shop shuts, or post a parcel in my lunch break then its going to be a distraction for me whilst I am working - offering the services within your company means that the employees do not need to worry about whether they can be back at work in time.. It reduces stress and is a great way to make your company stand out from the crowd when you want the best people... Or they could offer higher wages, but I doubt that would help the current situation...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Lottery of Birth

    If you get a chance to see it, "The Lottery of Birth" is a fascinating look at "the system" and why it's so difficult to break out of it. I don't agree with everything they espouse, but much of it is spot on. Available on Netflix BTW.

  13. David Barrett

    "a rising tide of hatred of the successful one per cent,"

    OK tech workers are well paid, but well enough to qualify for being in the top 1% or earners?

    Ill give a hint, the top 1% don't get the bus to work, their transport has significantly greater ground clearance!

  14. Swarthy

    Wow, So Reg readers come in two flavors: The Rich and The Poor? Are we are all either lighting cigars with 50 dollar/pound notes, or scavenging the next meal from the gutters and dumpsters? In all of the above comments there has not been one nod to the middle ground. Admittedly, the article glossed over anyone of median income, but the Commentards are usually better than this.

    Here's a suggestion: If someone goes to work and gets a paycheck (even if it's signed by themselves) they are not a member of the 1%; they are not "Rich". Anyone (including the doddering old fool from the article) trying to equate the Google employees to "The One Percent" Is using a strawman.

    If you are earning a paycheck, you are getting screwed; the paycheck is simply the lube. If you do not earn a paycheck, you are either getting shafted with no lube, or you are a shaft-er, the difference is obvious in how they walk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I use £50 notes to light cigars that I find in the gutter.. does that make me middle class?

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