The pitchforks are coming

In a featured article on Politico, Seattle based venture capitalist Nick Hanauer warns that “the pitchforks are coming” for him and his “fellow plutocrats.”

He notes the stark wealth inequality in America: “At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.”

He warns: “If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”

“Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers.”

The article comes exactly six months after Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist Tom Perkins penned a letter in the Wall Street Journal warning of a “progressive kristallnacht” that he sees looming for America’s rich. He reflects on das Zeitgeist: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?”

These are leading venture capitalists who have made their fortunes predicting what will happen in the future. Let’s all hope that this time, they are very wrong.

 

About Matthew Ricchiazzi (102 Articles)
Matthew Ricchiazzi holds an MBA in Finance & Private Equity from Cornell University's SC Johnson Graduate School of Management and a BS in Urban Planning from Cornell's College of Architecture, Art & Planning. He has worked in various capacities with Seneca Holdings, the National Congress of American Indians, the Industrial Areas Foundation, and with local, state, and federal political campaigns. He founded Change Buffalo PAC to promote issues of new urbanism in Western New York, and launched Enkindle Capital, LLC, a micro-venture platform and contracting vehicle. He is the founder of the Buffalo Chronicle.

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