Huffpost Politics

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Danielle Tumminio Headshot

An Open Letter to Tom Perkins

Posted: Updated:

Dear Mr. Perkins,

Recently, you told Adam Lashinsky at a speaking engagement that you had an idea that would change the world. You said that the government should enact the "Tom Perkins system" for voting rights whereby, "If you pay a million dollars in taxes, you should get a million votes."

Your remark seems to indicate that money is the ultimate thing of value, and so having to give it up makes it the ultimate sacrifice. And perhaps that isn't surprising coming from you, given your background as a venture capitalist and your recent comments that the ultra-rich in America are being persecuted like Jews in Nazi Germany.

But the thing is, for someone who has made his fortune by figuring out ways for money to make more money, you seem woefully ignorant about what the term "value" actually means. From your remarks, it seems that you believe that only money should be valued by this nation. After all, as you say, if you pay a million in taxes, you should get a million votes.

But is it possible that there are other things our country should value above money? Is it possible that there are other sacrifices that are worth just as much as monetary ones?

For instance, members of our military do not get paid nearly as much as you do; however, many of them put their lives in jeopardy every day for the safety of our nation. One could make the argument that the value of their sacrifices outweighs the value of the sacrifice you make when you pay your taxes. Perhaps, then, we should give more votes to those who have lost limbs in battle, to those who suffer post-traumatic stress, or to widows and widowers whose spouses have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Similarly, many parents chose to forego opportunities for financial prosperity for love of their children. The choice to stay at home is indeed one of sacrifice, preventing these adults from climbing the work ladder, from cultivating their own freedoms and interests. And yet, it's not the kind of sacrifice that gets monetarily reimbursed. Why don't we give these individuals more votes because of how strongly they value their families?

Or we could turn to teachers, who could have applied their incisive knack for learning to more lucrative careers such as your own. However, they chose to forego such opportunities in order to educate our country's next generation of leaders. All of us who have achieved success thanks to our ability to read owe that not to ourselves but to our first grade teachers. All who -- like yourself -- made their fortunes in financial fields can thank their math teachers from elementary school onwards because they taught them everything from basic arithmetic to advanced financial management. So perhaps your high school math teachers should get additional votes because they gave you the knowledge you needed to make your millions. What do you think?

And finally, there are people of faith. I attended seminary at Yale alongside hundreds of other students who could have had exceedingly lucrative careers in their field of choice. However, their faith taught them that love, generosity and character were far more valuable than money. Some of these individuals got ordained like myself; others went on to gain doctorates, to become school chaplains, or to found non-profits that provided a safe place for impoverished children after school. Driven by their beliefs, they worked to create a more just, loving America. So maybe we should give these individuals more votes because of their commitment to their God and to the change they created in this country as a result.

To say that those with money should get more votes in this country is tantamount to saying that the dollar is worth more than loyalty, love, intellect or faith. And yet, this country was founded on the principle that all people are created equal. That means that whatever we ultimately value -- be it country, family, learning, or God -- we all get a fair shot on American soil.

Given your commitment to the Tom Perkins system, I imagine that does not resonate. But it should. Because despite your millions, your comments disgrace this country's most fundamental currency: The value of every human being.

And that currency, as our country's founders so rightly noted, is worth far more than gold.