Death and taxes are proverbially difficult to avoid.
But give Eduardo Saverin credit for trying.
The Facebook co-founder, proud holder of the title Facebook Founder Who Most Closely Resembles Andrew Garfield, has left the country and become a citizen of Singapore. And there is a great rumbling in the Senate, where two members have introduced something called the Ex-Patriot Act. After all, their desire to extricate money from ungrateful billionaires is matched only by their desire to craft angry, forced acronyms.
The senators do not miss Mr. Saverin personally. They thought he seemed sympathetic in “The Social Network,” but they can do without him. They are mostly worried about his money, with which they really felt they had a connection.
Still, it seems an odd way to coax someone back by being more punitive than you were when he initially left.
“Hey!” the Ex-Patriot Act says. “You seemed bothered by how much taxes you were being asked to pay on your earnings. Here’s an idea: How about paying more taxes? Surely you can agree that this is fair.”
So as Saverin scuttles nervously away, America is pulling the famous maternal guilt trip. “But didn’t I welcome you into my home?” it asks. “Wasn’t it under my auspices and roof that you came up with this money-making scheme of yours? Can you neglect your white-haired mother?”
“It’s not that I’m not grateful,” you begin, “but that’s a pretty big sum, and you seem to have no trouble spending other people’s money . . .”
“I needed those jets!” America says. “I am entitled to that entitlement spending. Health care! How can you begrudge me health care?”
You start inching away.
“I can change!” America mumbles. “I got rid of the space program.”
“Yeah, but I liked the space program . . .”
As far as I’m concerned, Saverin is welcome to languish in Singapore indefinitely. It gives the Wall Street Journal something to write about. Let him enjoy the country’s dubious comforts — its humidity, its press restrictions, its — whatever it is. The Wall Street Journal does not seem to think highly of Singapore, but that is the paper’s prerogative. No one is obliging its editors to vacation there.
But I can’t get that worked up about Saverin leaving. It was enough when Michele Bachmann tried to become Swiss. All my tears are spent.
And, as the Economist points out, it is not exactly as though Saverin is flitting over the border without putting in anything for his pains. America has long been founded on the assumption that only fools and trolls would want to be a citizen of any other place. We have things no one else on Earth has, like freedom and the Grand Canyon and the requirement that you remove your shoes for airport security.
So before you leave, you have to pony up. And he already has — to the tune of hundreds of millions. Could it be more? Certainly. Is he ungrateful? Possibly. Un-American? Quite literally.
But the last thing we want to do is bother the Excessively Rich. If the Reagan years taught us anything, it is that we have to be very, very polite to the wealthiest people and eventually we will feel a warm trickling from above. Or something. Any time now. So we shouldn’t be punishing him. We should be prostrating ourselves at his feet and, I don’t know, sending him monogrammed tongs and warmed towels, or whatever it is that people who sit in the fronts of airplanes get to have.
My point is, be kind to the man! We can’t afford to scare off people like him. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg left! The whole hoodie industry would collapse in moments. Please, Facebook Billionaires, stay put! We could really use your help paying for things. Every bit counts, even if it’s only the odd $300 million here or there.