"This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"
There's been a lot of talk about inequality lately. Obama made it the main focus in his State of the Union address and the Canadian Liberals have made it a central plank of their electoral platform. Really, there just seems to be a lot of discussion around it since the report came out stating that 85 people have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the world's population.
Naturally, alongside this comes discussions regarding class warfare and rich-bashing. At least there are discussions about there being discussions about it. I haven't actually heard any more it than the norm but it's apparently been enough to make billionaire investor Tom Perkins make the badly thought-out statement above that tries to compare the treatment received by the wealthy today and the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany.
Kristallnacht, also known as The Night of Broken Glass, was an attack on Jewish property in 1938 by riled-up Germans and Austrians that the governments ignored. Over a thousand synagogues were burned and about 7000 Jewish businesses destroyed. At least 91 Jews were killed.
People have been piling in on Perkins for the poorly thought-out statement and he has since apologized, as he should, because, let's face it, Nazi comparisons are generally stupid unless people are getting systematically mass-executed. And they're not. At least not over wealth discrepancies. None of the main bankers, who are the focal point of the anger against the super wealthy, have even been sent to prison for their roles in the financial meltdown of 2008.
But is there anything to what Perkins suggests? Maybe. In the US, a Gallup poll showed that 67% of Americans are unsatisfied with the distribution of wealth, which is unsurprising considering they live in the most unequal of all the developed societies.
Forbes states that: "One report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston conducted for Tax Analysts found incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans grew only $59 (adjusted for inflation) from 1966 to 2011, while incomes for the top 10% rose by $116,071."