Most Classist Comment of 2014

Thank you for helping us choose our 5th annual ‘awardee’!

2014 was full of newsworthy racist and sexist comments from high places. Less noticed was the classism – but as always, Class Action had no shortage of nominees for prominent people demeaning working-class or poor people, perpetuating classist myths and stereotypes, and generally being clueless about class inequities. While there were some good contenders, the “honor” went to #9, venture capitalist Tom Perkins and his sidekick billionaire Sam Zell.

The winner with 31% of the vote

#9. Venture capital pioneer Tom Perkins said about resentment of the very rich, “In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization… a progressive war on the American one percent… a very dangerous drift in our American thinking.” After Perkins got flak, billionaire Sam Zell came to his defense, saying he was “right” because “the 1 percent are being pummelled” and “the 1 percent work harder.” (Source)

The runners up

#1. (1%) Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “If you did not have unions you wouldn’t have this jobless problem in the western world… It is caused by unions making companies and institutions uncompetitive and bringing them to a position of not being efficient.”  (Source)

#2. (12%) Jeffrey Dorfman, economist, Forbes contributor, said: “Raising the minimum wage is actually just an attempt by liberals to punish a subset of business owners by redistributing a share of their supposed wealth to their employees. It is just another attempt at class warfare.” (Source)

#3. (12%) British Welfare Minister Lord Freud, in response to a question about whether “mentally damaged” people deserve the minimum wage, “they’re not worth the full wage…if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working … “  (Source)

#4. (2%) Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), incoming chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, who will oversee the federal workforce, said about health-care and retirement benefits for federal employees, “those things in the private sector have been modified dramatically…I think it’s unrealistic for public-sector employees to believe that they are immune from modifications to their pay and benefit packages… I really don’t think that the public-sector employees should be unionized.”  (Source)

#5. (10%) Elizabeth Lauten, former communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher, tweeted, “Dear Sasha and Malia […] Try showing a little class. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect and not a spot at the bar.” (Source)

#6. (9%) Senator Mitch McConnell, gloated that now that Republicans control the Senate, “we’re not going to be debating all these gosh-darn proposals….All we do in the Senate [now] is vote on things like raising the minimum wage…extending unemployment…. The student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse.” (Source)

#7. (7%) Bernie Madoff, Wall Street wealth manager convicted of defrauding investors of $65 billion, explaining why he doesn’t care for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said “I’m not a great fan of redistribution of wealth.” (Source)

#8. (0%) David Mellor, a millionaire former British Cabinet Minister, called a taxi driver a “smart-arsed little git” and a “sweaty, stupid little shit.” (Source)

#10. (17%) NJ Governor Chris Christie answered a question about rectifying the income gap by saying, “You want income equality? That’s mediocrity. Everybody can have an equal, mediocre salary… Or do you want the opportunity for greatness?… But, not in being the perpetual referee of what sounds like a fight between my 13-year-old son and my 10-year-old daughter. ‘You did this for him? That’s not fair’… I grew up in an America that said life isn’t fair.” (Source)

Make a gift today to help us continue to spotlight and dismantle classism in 2015!

Donate_Button6