The few, the oppressed, the rich.

Or, in keeping with Tom Perkins' overheated prose, the "rich."

In case you missed it, Perkins, who built an $8 billion fortune in venture capital, wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal about the perils of the wealthy.

"Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.'"

He cited protests targeting chartered buses that carry workers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and a rude comment about his ex-wife, novelist Danielle Steel, before returning to his fear of a new Holocaust.

"This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking," he wrote. "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"

In a word, yes.

Yes, Mr. Perkins, you can sleep soundly tonight and every night. Even in an America increasingly focused on income inequality, we're certain that you will never be forced to stitch a dollar sign on your clothes or be herded into a concentration camp because you were enormously successful in your chosen occupation -#8212; providing startup funding for businesses.

However, you can rightfully count on the sort of public scorn that greeted Mitt Romney's denunciation of the shiftless 47 percent and hedge fund manager Stephen Schwarzman's comparison of a proposed tax increase with "Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939."

Instead of portraying yourself as a victim, you might focus on the corrosive economic effects of millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans, of families living paycheck to paycheck, tapping rather than building their retirement savings.

The buying power of the middle class drives economic growth, and the present recovery is sluggish because it hasn't reached a broad middle class. One big reason why is that the median middle-class household income in the United States is effectively unchanged since 1989. Since the recession ended in 2009, almost all of the income growth has been concentrated among the top 1 percent.

Still, setting aside the foolish analogy, Perkins made a valid, if somewhat twisted, point.

The people on those Silicon Valley-bound buses aren't the "one percent." They aren't rich. They are workers, earning a living in a thriving industry and contributing to prosperity in the Bay Area.

Some of these workers qualify as affluent, but many are solidly middle class -#8212; the shrinking segment of the population that needs to bolstered, not vilified by plutocrats or populists.

Extending prosperity to more people, to more businesses and to struggling neighborhoods is the challenge. A growing concentration of wealth is antithetical to meeting that challenge.

Simply cutting pay at the top of the ladder doesn't guarantee more pay on lower rungs. But watching the middle class shrink, while claiming economic oppression of the most fortunate, only pushes us closer to being a nation of haves and have-nots with little hope their children will do better. No one wins that race to the bottom.

High School Journalism Awards

Winners of the 2017 Press Democrat high school journalism contest:

Outstanding Journalists

1st: Bronwyn Simmons, Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm

2nd: Ryleigh Norgrove, Healdsburg High School

3rd: Isabella Bloom, Analy High School

Overall Excellence

1st: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande

2nd: The Hound’s Bark, Healdsburg High School

3rd: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High School

Online Excellence

1st: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande

2nd: Trojan Tribune, Petaluma High School

News Coverage

1st: Holly Keaton, Casa Grande

2nd: Isabella Bloom, Analy

3rd: Tuck Williams & Max Handron, Sonoma Valley High

Design & Layout

1st: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High

2nd: Tiger Times, Analy High School

3rd: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande


1st: Griffin Epstein, Petaluma High

2nd: Jessica Tang, Casa Grande

3rd: Lisa Lei, Sonoma Academy


1st: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande

2nd: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High

3rd: Tiger Times, Analy

Feature Story

1st: Annie Gallo & Sonia Goetschius, Casa Grande

2nd: Lucy Carroll, Healdsburg High

3rd: Elizabeth Kolling, Sonoma Academy


1st: Polly Parakul, Casa Grande

2nd: Abbey Carmel, Sonoma Academy

3rd: Abigail Alcala, Healdsburg High

Sports Story

1st: Raegan Cordero, Max Handron & Nico Sloop, Sonoma Valley High

2nd: Patrick Mantoani & Katie Marr, Casa Grande

3rd: Ana Lara, Sonoma Academy

Photo — Feature/ News

1st: Holly Keaton, Casa Grande

2nd: Alejandro Paredes, Casa Grande

3rd: Dakota McGranahan, Santa Rosa High

Photo — Sports

1st: Malia Cashel, Sonoma Valley High School

2nd: Rachel Owen, Santa Rosa High

3rd: Dakota McGranahan, Santa Rosa High