The persecution of the 1 percent
March 25, 2014
"I would call attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its '1 percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.'" Tom Perkins, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 24, 2014
"…if you go back to 1933… this is what Hitler was saying in Germany." Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, March 18, 2014
Once again, the ignorance of the Right on matters of history is stunning. In Nazi-occupied countries, Jewish people had to wear special identification, the Star of David, on their clothing. Jewish businesses were vandalized or destroyed, with no legal recourse. Jews were denied entrance to many professions. They weren't allowed to own farms or teach in universities. They couldn't be in public service.
Jews were forced to live in specific areas of cities, called ghettos, and couldn't leave without permission. After this initial oppression of Jews in Nazi-occupied countries, millions were sent to concentration camps, where they were tortured and killed. Six million Jews died in these camps. How many of the "one percent" have been sent to such camps because of their wealth?
In 1936, Hitler passed laws denying Jewish citizens the right to vote. Rather than the wealthy losing their right to vote, Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation, said this in Dec. 2010: "The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who got the right to vote. It wasn't you were just a citizen and you automatically got to vote. Some of their restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of them was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you're a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. And if you're not a property owner, you know, I'm sorry but they, property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than non-property owners do."
Phillips wants to restrict the right to vote to those who own property. This means that any military person living in base housing wouldn't be able to vote. Anyone renting a house or apartment or space in a mobile home park wouldn't be able to vote. Tens of millions of citizens would lose their right to vote. Who is persecuting whom?
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On Feb. 13, 2014, Tom Perkins said, "The Tom Perkins system is: You don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes. 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?" In other words, the wealthy should run the country. The Declaration of Independence declares that we are all created equal, that those who are wealthy are not inherently superior, that everyone deserves a say in how the country is run. Apparently Perkins thinks that concept is outdated.
On June 15, 2013, 16-year old Ethan Couch stole two cases of beer and got drunk. Driving 70 mph, he crashed into two cars on the side of the road, killing four people. When he was tried for this crime, he was given no jail time, because the judge determined that Ethan suffered from "affluenza." His family was rich and his parents had taught him that wealth conveys privilege, so the judge said Ethan should not be held responsible for his actions. Ethan was sentenced to 10 years in a luxury rehab facility. If he had been poor, does anyone seriously believe he would have received a similar sentence?
We are supposed to be a nation with "liberty and justice for all." Numerous studies have shown that the reality is "liberty and justice for some." If you are poor, forget it. Far from being persecuted, the "one percent" have privileges the rest of us can only imagine.
The worst that has been proposed for the one percent is that they pay a bit more in taxes to help promote job growth, pay for our unfunded wars, and repair the crumbling infrastructure damaging our country. Under Reagan, the top tax bracket was around 50 percent for several years. The wealthy did just fine. Now, returning to such a rate is considered persecution equal to what Hitler did to the Jews. No one has suggested putting the wealthy into concentration camps or taking away their voting rights. They are just upset that their feelings are getting hurt. I guess to them, that is the worst persecution imaginable.
Jeanette Strong is an LVN columnist.