The irony of a Facebook page promoting a boycott of Facebook is so obvious I feel silly even pointing it out. But it illustrates a point. Facebook has become too important to boycott. I’d like to boycott Facebook but doing so would mean I couldn’t ‘Share’ a link to Thousand Kites project with my FB friends and I couldn’t ‘Like” the Western Tidewater Free Clinic‘s Facebook page. Facebook has become a powerful tool to help the advancement of important causes, and if progressives up and leave than this powerful tool will be left in the hands of the very people who gave us a reason to boycott it.
One of those reasons is Eduardo Saverin’s despicable decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship, thus avoiding taxes on Facebook’s initial public offering. He does this after earning billions thanks to the hard working people who support the infrastructure that helped him rise to his position of wealth and fame.
As the Pando Daily points out, Saverin owes the U.S. “Nearly Everything”.
Would Eduardo Saverin have been successful anywhere else? Maybe, but not as quickly, and not as spectacularly. It was only thanks to America—thanks to the American government’s direct and indirect investments in science and technology; thanks to the U.S. justice system; the relatively safe and fair investment climate made possible by that justice system; the education system that educated all of Facebook’s workers, and on and on—it was only thanks to all of this that you know anything at all about Eduardo Saverin today.
But Mr. Saverin doesn’t see it that way. He’s going to take his ball and go to Singapore; a ball he built with the help of hard working Americans.
According to The Atlantic, more and more wealthy are leaving America, balls and all. So what are we to do? Right wing tax reformers say we need to become more like the countries to which our ingrate billionaires are fleeing. Like Singapore.
Singapore is a nice place for billionaires. But for average workers, their hours have risen while their take-home pay has been falling, and many parents don’t have money for their children’s lunch.
As income inequality in the U.S. increases, we may soon catch up to Singapore in the CIA’s GINI index of family income distribution. Singapore’s a little worse than El Salvador, and we’re not far behind. This is the direction the right wing wants us to go in order to beg selfish, arrogant billionaires to stay with us. But it’s absurd to think we can compete with countries that disregard the needs of their poor. No matter how far we lower the tax rates for billionaires, there will always be nations with lower taxes. The right wants us to be more like those nations, even as they accuse Obama of wanting to be more like Western Europe.
They tell us that if we stop taking money from our “job creators” and stop coddling the non-working, our labor force will be more productive and we’ll all live better. But looking at Singapore tells us that our poorest laborers would work more hours for less pay and the income gap will be even greater than it is now.
So, our choice is to lose billionaires to tax havens or become more like the nations to which they’re so attracted. It’s a nasty choice, like continuing to use Facebook or relinquish a tool which is no longer optional in promoting important causes. Those are the choices that our fleeing billionaires have left us.
But it’s the silly protesters who are waging class warfare.