On May 13, 2012, Forbes magazine ran an Op-Ed piece under the headline: “For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Is an American Hero.”
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York angrily disagreed.
“It is scary. It is a scary, absurd place where even a tax dodger who renounces America for his own 30 pieces of silver is celebrated as a patriot and an American hero.
“It is perverse. I am appalled by making heroic a man who renounces citizenship to escape a tax rate of capital gains of 15%.
“No one gets rich in America on their own,” Schumer said. “And when people do well in America, they should do well by America. I believe the vast majority of Americans believe this too.”
From that Op-Ed piece:
“Saverin’s flight from the U.S. is yet another reminder of the superiority of a national consumption tax that in a perfect world would be implemented in concert with the abolition of the I.R.S.”
It’s tempting to imagine a world without an agency to collect taxes. But it’s nightmarish to contemplate a world where there were no taxes to pay for
- a powerful military to protect us;
- an FBI to combat terrorism and organized crime;
- an FAA to safely regulate airline traffic;
- agencies to repair roads;
- agencies to erect public buildings (such as schools, courts and libraries) and
- agencies (such as the EPA and FDA) to protect us from predatory businessmen.
The Op-Ed piece further asserts that “you cannot limit the power of the Federal Government if its officials hold the power to tax incomes.”
Every nation in history–-whether a democracy or a dictatorship, whether capitalist, socialist or communist–-has understood the absolute necessity for collecting public revenues. And it has created means by which to do so.
“When individuals resist governmental hubris, we should exalt their actions.”
We should, in short, celebrate those who come to the United States to make fortunes they could not make anywhere else–-and then, when they do, turn their backs on their adopted country.
We should rejoice that they have stuffed billions of dollars more into their already-fat pockets and left their supposed fellow countrymen to shift for themselves.
“In an ideal world the Federal Government should implement a consumption tax. And if, as a result, poor people suffer because they’re taxed at the same level as rich ones, fine.
“Everyone should know how much it costs to run the government.”
Of course we should have a “regressive” tax that “hits low incomes at the same percentage as high ones.”
Of course, those who are barely able to feed their families or can’t afford medical care should pay as much in taxes as a rich parasite who, like Mitt Romney, throws out $10,000 bets like so many dimes.
“If the Federal Government can’t fund all its programs because rich people like Saverin refuse to pay taxes, then U.S. taxpayers generally will have to make good for the missing taxes. It’s the fault of Congress that ir cannot put an end to any program.”
For billionaires like Saverin and the well-heeled types who subscribe to Forbes, it doesn’t matter that “fewer government programs will achieve funding.”
Greed-obsessed “swells” like Saverin:
- don’t depend on Medicare–they can easily afford the best doctors money can buy;
- don’t have to depend on Social Security to see them through old age;
- don’t have to worry about standing in food bank lines;
- don’t need to rely on police departments–if they’re threatened, they can easily afford round-the-clock bodyguards;
- don’t need consume protection agencies; if they’re victimized by unscrupulous businessmen, they can hire platoons of lawyers and private detectives.
A contemporary writer who warned of America’s abandonment by its privileged classes was Christopher Lasch. In his posthumously published last book, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy  he wrote:
“There has always been a privileged class, even in America. But it has never been so dangerously isolated from its surroundings.
“George Bush’s [the president who served from 1989 to 1992] wonderment, when he saw for the first time an electronic scanning device at a supermarket checkout counter, revealed…the chasm that divides the privileged classes from the rest of the nation.”
Until recently, wrote Lasch, American cultural and economic elites willingly shouldered civic responsibilities. But in post-modern capitalism, a professional elite defines itself as entirely separate from civic concerns.
The new elites flourish through enterprises that operate across international borders. The rich in America have more in common with the fellows in Europe or Asia than with the vast majority of their fellow Americans who don’t share their comfortable surroundings.
Thus, the privileged class in America–-the top 1%–has separated itself from the crumbling public services and industrial cities that are used and lived in by the rest of the country’s citizens.
Even worse, our society has condoned their exalted status. The dust jacket blurb for James Patterson’s crime-thriller, NYPD Red, says it best:
“NYPD Red is a special task force charged with protecting the interests of Manhattan’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens.”
It’s time to protect the 99% of America’s citizens against the predations of its 1% wealthiest.