Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of Facebook and a billionare at age 30, has publicly renounced his U.S. citizenship to move to Singapore. He was born in Brazil and became an American citizen as a teenager. Saverin denies that he is giving up his citizenship because of Singapore being a more favorable tax haven, and while we can’t get into his head, there is plenty of evidence to believe that the different tax laws probably drove his decision.
Now that we know a little bit of Saverin’s background, I wonder what he has ever given back to the country that allowed him to succeed, that gave him every opportunity to use the talents bestowed upon him at birth. Countless millions of people all around the world would give anything to become American citizens. Countless millions would also give up a lot to attend a good American university. I’m sure motivating factors don’t include our tax structure. Some who so badly desired to become Americans joined the armed forces to gain citizenship but died serving their adopted country before achieving it. Saverin also received other blessings of liberty like being able to live in a stable democracy, and federal, state and local governments that have low levels of corruption compared to most other countries. I’m sure Saverin knew that calling 911 almost anywhere in the United States would get an immediate police, fire or emergency services response. He knew that he could have one of his contracts enforced or defended in an American court. And he could sleep well at night knowing that the best military the world has ever known protected him and his interests. These, among so many things we often take for granted as Americans, are things that Saverin considers less important than how much he will ultimately pay in taxes despite already being wealthy beyond imagination. And again I ask, other than to pay his taxes (and surely taking advantage of every lawful loophole), what did Saverin ever give back to the country that gave him so much?
I think back to the invasion of Singapore and the other Asian countries that the Japanese invaded and occupied during World War II. And I wonder how much it would have been worth to be an American citizen when U.S. Navy warships were rescuing fleeing Americans. I wonder how much money it would have been worth to Saverin to be one of the rescued. Good bye and good luck, Mr. Saverin. May the United States fill your void with other industrious people who want the opportunities you had, people who will give back because they know the meaning of gratitude and want to make America better in return for what they were provided to succeed.