On May 15, 2012, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship.
Born in Brazil, the 30-year-old Saverin became a U.S. citizen in 1998 but had lived in Singapore since 2009.
Giving up his citizenship allowed him to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars on capital gains when Facebook launched its IPO on May 18, 2012. Singapore does not have a capital gains tax.
And America’s fascist Right couldn’t have been happier.
Take Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing talk-show host. The Rush Limbaugh Show airs throughout the U.S. on over 400 stations and is the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States.
When Limbaugh speaks, his “dittohead” audience listens—and acts as he decrees.
“So if it’s a more favorable tax haven that you can find elsewhere and you go there,” asked Limbaugh, “why is it automatically that you are unpatriotic?
“Why is it automatically that you are a coward, that you are not paying your fair share? It’s this whole class envy thing rearing its head again.”
For Limbaugh, the villain isn’t a billionaire who turns his back on the country that gave him the opportunity to become one. No, the villain lies in those who believe that even wealthy businessmen should behave like patriots–instead of parasites.
“But [Barack Obama is] out there demonizing successful people every day,” said Limbaugh, “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.”
Consider the implications of this:
On November 1, 2011, Forbes magazine reported that, in 2007, the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%.
Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.
According to Limbaugh’s philosophy, the bottom 80% of the popularion owning 15% of the country’s wealth should pay homage to the top 20% of Americans who own 85% of the country’s wealth.
In short, they should “know their place” and not expect the moneyed few to pay their fair share of taxes.
Of course, this is to be expected of Limbaugh—whose own wealth makes him a multi-millionaire. In 2001, U.S. News & World Report noted that Limbaugh had an eight-year contract, with Clear Channel Communications, for $31.25 million a year.
And according to a July 2, 2008, Matt Drudge column, Limbaugh signed a contract extension through 2016 that is worth over $400 million.
And Limbaugh wasn’t alone in his praise for Saverin.
Another right-winger who defends those who run out on their country is anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
On May 7, 2012, two Democratic Senators—Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania—introduced legislation designed to tax expatriates even after they have left the country.
Their “Ex-PATRIOT Act” would impose a mandatory 30% tax on American investments for those who renounce their citizenship and would also prohibit individuals like Saverin from re-entering the country.
“Saverin has turned his back from the country that welcomed him, kept him safe, educated him and helped him become a billionaire,” Schumer said at a press conference. He added that it was time to “de-friend” the Facebook co-founder.
Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATF) said the targeting people that turn in their passports reminded him of regimes that had driven people out of the country, only to confiscate their wealth at the door.
“I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this,” said Norquist. “It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the ’70s and in South Africa as well. He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German.”
On the floor of the Senate, Schumer denounced Norquist in return:
“I know a thing or two about what the Nazis did. Some of my relatives were killed by them.
“Saying that a person who made their fortune specifically because of the positive elements in American society, in turn, has a responsibility to do right by America is not even on the same planet as comparing to what Nazis did to Jews.”
Schumer added that he found it troubling that conservatives would lionize someone like Saverin, who was called “an American hero” by Forbes magazine.
On May 13, 2012, Forbes–which describes itself as “The Capitalist Tool”–had run an Op-Ed piece under the headline: “For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Is an American Hero.”
“Can you believe it?” asked Schumer. “An American hero? Renouncing your citizenship now qualifies as heroic for the hard right-wing?”
“This has gone so far, this idolatry they have taken to such an extreme end, they make Eduardo Saverin into their patron saint. In the name of low taxes for the wealthy, they have lionized an inherently unpatriotic person.”