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The Insiders
Posted at 05:04 PM ET, 05/17/2012

Is there a lesson to be learned from Mr. Saverin's flight?

It wounds my patriotism and makes me angry that someone would punt away their American citizenship just to cut themselves a break on taxes.  But rather than just be angry and shake our fist, is there something to be learned here?  Have we gotten to the point where there is a disincentive for wealthy entrepreneurs to stay in the USA after they have cashed out?  Is there an alarm bell ringing that our political leadership should hear?

Rather than meetings about how to punish the greedy who want to come here and reap the benefits of our freedom and meritocracy, we should be having meetings about ways to ensure that money stays here and that we are the most attractve country on earth for the smart and successful.  In fact, why doesn’t Obama demand a new ten-point plan for attracting foreign wealthy successful families to settle here instead of elsewhere?

I understand that Mr. Saverin is settling in Singapore.  Speaking of wounded patriotism, most Americans are startled when they go to Singapore for the first time.  From technology to architecture and infrastructure, you can’t help but compare how much better things appear in Singapore than in any American city.  Of course Singapore isn’t preferable to America in most categories, and it certainly isn’t the land of the free or the home of the brave.  But America is losing its unique appeal.  You can lead a modern, healthy, safe life in many places around the world where just thirty years ago you could not. 

We need to be honest with ourselves about where we stand relative to our international competitors.  Mr. Saverin deserves our jeers, but as soon as he is out of sight we should talk honestly about how to keep people like him from leaving, and how to attract those like him who are successful elsewhere. 

By  |  05:04 PM ET, 05/17/2012

 
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