Class warfare,  Stateside

Where’s their patriotism now?

In a somewhat related development, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship, apparently to avoid a large tax payment.

Saverin, a native of Brazil, denied his decision to become an ex-American was related to taxes. But:

Two immigration lawyers said his explanation hardly passes the laugh test. Saverin’s move was timed to the initial public offering of shares of Facebook stock. The valuation of the Facebook IPO explodes Saverin’s stake in the social media company to some $3 billion, on which avoiding taxes could save him at least tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars. Nor does it help his case that he relocated to Singapore, which levies no taxes on those earnings.

A grimly amusing outcome of this is that leading members of the American Right, always pleased to question the patriotism of liberals, have denounced— not Saverin, but Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey, who have introduced legislation aimed at penalizing those who would renounce their U.S. citizenship to dodge taxes.

(I vaguely remember a time when successful immigrants to the US considered it a privilege to pay taxes to the government of the country that helped make their success possible.)

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist compared it to the actions of Nazi Germany.

“I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this. It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the ’70s and in South Africa as well,” Norquist said, as quoted by The Hill. “He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board derided the legislation as “Soviet-style exit taxes” that resemble “what oppressive and demagogic regimes do, and it’s humiliating to see U.S. Senators posture in such fashion.”

The Journal argued that the proposed Ex-PATRIOT Act would turn away the best and the brightest, bashing Schumer and Casey as “a pair of envy specialists” who are trying to “score political points by punishing the fleeing rich.”

Rush Limbaugh lamented, “It’s this whole class envy thing rearing its head again.”

“[The] president’s out there demonizing successful people every day, targeting successful people every day, running a presidential campaign based on class warfare, trying to get the 99% of the country who are not in the top 1% to hate the 1%, to literally despise ‘em,” the radio host told his millions of listeners Friday.

My Lithuanian-born grandfather, who immigrated to the US in 1902, was a homesteader and coal miner in North Dakota and a plumber in Minnesota. As far as I can gather, it took him several years, and some bureaucratic hassles, to become an American citizen (here’s a copy of his declaration of intention). Even though he later became a Communist, I don’t think it ever would have occurred to him to renounce what he worked so hard to obtain.

Share this article.