“You pay a million dollars in taxes, you should get a million votes. How’s that?”
Earlier in the interview, Perkins elaborated on his controversial view that the wealthiest Americans — sometimes called the 1% — are currently being “persecuted” because they are rich. “The extreme progressivity of taxation is a form of persecution,” Perkins said. “I think if you’ve paid 75% of your life’s earnings to the government, you are being persecuted.” In the U.S., wealthy people pay higher rates of income tax — in what’s known as a progressive tax system — in part to fund social programs for less affluent people.
Later in the interview, Lashinksy asked Perkins for a “60-second idea to change the world.” The venture capitalist’s response: “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 should get a million votes. How’s that?” (Video below, see comments at 1:03:00.) Perkins later elaborated on those comments to Fortune by saying that because 50% of registered U.S. voters don’t pay taxes, “we got ourselves into a mess.”