Chuck Schumer, a hero for patriotism on this Memorial Day

Chuck Schumer, you are a hero for standing up for what’s right. Let’s bring meaning back to American citizenship.

I’m venting again, but I just read this absolutely asinine article by two individuals who are planning to also become Singaporean. I don’t know if these two are rich, but they are defending Eduardo Savarin and attacking Chuck Schumer for the Ex-Patriot Act, which will prevent wealthy tax dodgers from re-entering the country if they avoid taxes by renouncing their U.S. citizenships.

Saverin and expatriates like him are practicing a perfectly rational arbitrage in a world of diverse systems and growing opportunity. Rather than question the loyalty of such global citizens, Congress should examine what their choices tell us about how Americans can succeed in the knowledge economy of the future.

Migration is about opportunity, not loyalty.

I’m disgusted by this. Absolutely disgusted. Schumer wasn’t talking about migration; he was talking about citizenship. Citizenship should be about loyalty, not opportunity. Citizenship should not be for sale.

Granted most immigrants these days come here for opportunity. But in most cases, they don’t come to avoid a tax bill; they come because they are fleeing poverty, escaping oppressive regimes, and desiring freedom. Poor immigrants come for safety and basic survival when their countries can’t provide it. Facebook never in a million years would have started in a country like Singapore where people get caned for chewing gum in public. It would have never even started in a tech-savvy country like India where people segregate by caste. The idea of people posting their own lives and creating their platforms is very American, and the structure succeeded because of American laws and social networks, funded by American tax dollars. To make treat citizenship as a commodity is a complete corruption of values.

On this Memorial Day, let’s remember those who died for our country. Let’s remember that not everyone has reduced citizenship to a tradable commodity. Let’s be thankful that we have heroes like Chuck Schumer who are willing to stand up for what’s right.

(Also see What Money Can’t Buy by Michael Sandel.)

16 thoughts on “Chuck Schumer, a hero for patriotism on this Memorial Day

  1. I understand your sentiment and I applaud you for demanding that citizens be held up to a standard. However I disagree with what Chuck Schumer is attempting to do. Let me put all my previous rhetoric aside.

    I paraphrase and read into what a wise man once said; that the surest, and best way to debase morality, is to constantly preach it at all opportunities, as often as possible, to browbeat people with it at all times, so that it loses its precious scarcity and quality. By turning something uncommon and noble into something common and ever present is the surest way to take the quality out of something and render it down to something far less.

    I come from a place and lived my early years in a time when interested parties held a stranglehold on morality, but not in the interests of people but of power and of the institutions of power. Morality was used on people, not for people.

    I disagree with Chuck Schumer because what he is doing is effectively attempting to legislate and regulate human behavior, but such measures cannot elevate the quality of a human being nor of society.

    Passing an “Ex-Patriot” act is a worthless solution because it is a quick fix that never addresses the underlying issues, but once passed, allows people to never think about these matters again, and never too deeply.

    But they really should.

  2. Raguel,

    You wrote:

    “I disagree with Chuck Schumer because what he is doing is effectively attempting to legislate and regulate human behavior, but such measures cannot elevate the quality of a human being nor of society.”

    My question then would be this: what would be the solution then?

    It seems to me that everything is moving towards the idea that we should always “let the market decide,” that “the market” should be what dictates human behavior. As Michael Sandel notes, rich people buy elections with their Super-Pacs, pay extra to get to the front of the line without a wait at Universal Studios, and pay scalpers so that they don’t have to wait in line for free tickets to see works by Shakespeare.

    If leaders don’t take a stand on moral grounds, who will? If morality is reduced to pure market forces, as with the argument made by the Bloomberg writers, doesn’t society–not just American society, but society in general–lose something?

  3. Human behavior must NEVER be dictated by “market forces”. Some things must never be bought or sold, and moreoever, markets dictating what is right or wrong is one of the worst cases of getting things upside down ever. Markets arise from human economic activities. Human beings create markets. People decide what goes on in markets and how things are done. We decide what flies and what doesn’t. That’s the way it has always been, and most probably, the way it always will be. So for anybody to say that people should conform to markets instead of acknowledging that people shape and influence markets, well I think that they’ve either not thought it out thoroughly or maybe they’re playing a very dirty game with you. Maybe they want you to conform to conditions imposed on you, because we all know that there are people whose entire existences are on a level much higher, or more accurately more far removed, from the rest of us.

    I also think that a true leader has to take a higher road. There are some things that unfortunately, no matter how distasteful, the state has no business getting involved in, because it opens too many doors. We may feel that the ex-patriot act would suit Saverin very nicely, but how would such a law impact other Americans in the future? Just a day or two ago, I heard an esteemed American say that a true leader should INSPIRE people. A true leader should inspire people to want to do better. He, or she, should give people hope, and confidence in purpose. If anything, I think that’s the quality of leaders people all over the world need, not just Americans.

    I don’t think it’s a very good idea for Americans to give in to “market forces” at all, but perhaps that’s what’s been happening all this while with the corporatist and consumerist ethic. Don’t get me wrong. I am very far from what people call the left. But there are some very important implications in the way things are done and the way power is structured in contemporary society. Until people, the grassroots, are willing to take a good hard look at how these things affect and influence them at all levels and resolve to make some decisions, most likely nothing will ever change.

    So my opinion is that there is no immediate solution. If anything needs to be done now, then it’s to let Saverin go his own way. This guy really is a storm in a teacup. Have Americans ever asked themselves why the hell should they hold guys like Zuckerberg and him in such high esteem in the first place? These celebrities could be greater tools than the rest of us combined.

  4. Also, just to write a little bit more on taking a good look on how people’s lives are affected, let me share with you my thoughts on the anti-monopoly laws.

    In a free market with healthy competition, the moment someone does something to piss everybody else off, they have the prerogative to take their money and business elsewhere. This is the power of the consumer. You have the money, no matter how much you have, you get to choose who you do business with. But in practical terms, how does this apply? Does an individual consumer or even a bloc of consumers have any real power to choose if an entity achieves monopoly status on a goods, service or resource? What more cartels or oligarchs banding together to effectively expand the scope and range of the effective monopoly.

    Is there a real, “free” market without some kind of mechanism to check the power of a monopolist or a cartel? What if anti-monopoly laws have become mere toothless formalities and salves for an anxious public? Even worse, what if the public becomes completely ignorant and unable to perceive the cartels within the fifth estate? What possibilities of collusion would that enable?

    You will have something that permeates and pervades every aspect of life. You could go insane without ever knowing why in the first place.

  5. Raguel:

    “I also think that a true leader has to take a higher road. There are some things that unfortunately, no matter how distasteful, the state has no business getting involved in, because it opens too many doors. We may feel that the ex-patriot act would suit Saverin very nicely, but how would such a law impact other Americans in the future?”

    Sure, but this is about citizenship, immigration and taxes, which aside from the national defense, are perhaps the most important businesses of the American state. I read the text of the Ex-Patriot Act, and the law does provide leeway–if a person has an explanation of why they’re giving up citizenship, they can defend themselves and avoid penalties.

    http://www.schumer.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=336808

    “Under the proposal, any expatriate with either a net worth of $2 million or an average income tax liability of at least $148,000 over the last five years will be presumed to have renounced their citizenship for tax avoidance purposes. The individual will then have an opportunity to demonstrate otherwise to the IRS by meeting specific IRS requirements. If the individual has a legitimate reason for renouncing his or her citizenship, no penalties will apply. But if the IRS finds that an individual gave up their passport for substantial tax purposes, then it will prospectively impose a tax on the individual’s future investment gains, no matter where he or she resides. This would eliminate any tax benefit and financial incentive from renouncing one’s citizenship. The rate of this capital gains tax will be 30 percent, in keeping with the rate that is already applied on non-resident aliens for dividends and interest earnings.”

  6. They should ban Eduardo. Ungreatful leach he is. There are many good countries in the world but if you want to get really rich and start tech companies clearly America has proven over and over and over again the place to be (if you want to be assured middle classness and not being poor go to Finland).

    He became a billionaire and should be greatful and pay his taxes. Has he lived another place he wouldn’t be. If you want the benifits pay the cost, pretty simple.

  7. Joe The Plumber would approve of this most honorable “job creator.” :)

    I’m with Byron and the senator. The man has benefitted from the country, so he has responsibilities to fulfill.

    I’m just surprised that current laws don’t handle this. Can foreigners own companies that are in U.S. soil, and/or stock in them, without paying taxes? It appears that is the case, but that’s odd.

  8. Politicians and morality, hand in glove at its finest!

    Bryon, when was America NOT about opportunity?

  9. linyai, well, let’s say he was seduced by one of our ladies. Rumor has it that he went to Singapore to be with Rachel Kum (how appropriate for a last name), former Miss Singapore, who is a good friend of Eduardo and wants to expand her cosmetic business. Mr. Saverin seems like the perfect righthand man because of his credentials and alleged dating preferences.

  10. Chr.

    What are you talking about? How does what you posted have anything to do with citizenship and obligation?

  11. Not immigration, but emigration. This law concerns itself not with who becomes an American citizen, but with what American citizens who want to give up citizenship may or may not do. The additions to present law this act proposes is strange and unusual. Taxes on “future earnings” of people who are no longer even American citizens, the provision for the IRS to be the final arbitrator of what explanations are acceptable and what are not for the sake of normal treatment of emigration, even barring future entry for affected persons.

    This act grossly expands the power of the state above and beyond the current norms.

    Of course, if you want to support the position that the state must legislate human behavior on the premise of moral arguments but not consequences, then what you are effectively doing is supporting the right of the state to do moral policing over all other considerations.

    This will be how liberty and civil society in America dies.

    Be advised, this will be used as a precedent for the state to decide not just what is or isn’t a crime and impose it on people, it will also become the foundation for the policing of what is acceptable or unacceptable thought.

  12. Bryon,

    You said this: Citizenship should be about loyalty, not opportunity. Citizenship should not be for sale.

    Do you think most people in this country think about loyalty before opportunity? I gather most people who join the armed forces think more about the incentives for joining than about serving the country.

    Perhaps you can make a case as to why American products/services should not be made in China or in some other 3rd world/non western nation, when a company like Facebook could have never taken hold in Singapore.

  13. Raguel,

    It’s the same thing whether we’re talking about those who immigrate or emigrate. In either case, the government deals with citizenship, so it ought to be concerned with who is coming in, as well as who is going out.

    I don’t see this as moral policing. Schumer didn’t say that rich people can’t make their money here and run. What he’s saying is that there ought to be consequences for such leeching. People ought not to be able to take such money and run away with it. I also don’t see this as thought control. They’re punishing actions, not thought.

  14. Who no law to prevent corporations from pulling this shit? The consequences are far worse for Americans.

  15. ROFL, I might be very wrong, but when I think of organisations that pay particular attention to who comes in as well as who goes out, I think of the Mafia, communists, and fascist regimes. XD

    I may also be wrong, but as far as I know, the emigration laws of most countries concern themselves mainly with ensuring your current dues and obligations have been paid. Not your FUTURE ones ROFL. The only organisations and people I know who seem to think a person has FUTURE obligations even after not being a member anymore are – yes I know I’ve already said it :( – the Mafia and other organised crime syndicates, the Comintern that believes all property belongs to the collective (administered by an inner party), and dirty fascists, like Mussolini. I kid you not, I don’t know of any other parties or entities that do things like this. LOL

    The media is making a ruckus about Saverin because they’re implying he was an under-privileged refugee, and that America “made” him, and therefore abandoning American citizenship to take up that of another country must necessarily be a betrayal born of financial motives.

    This is trial by media, and now people clamor to punish him and people like him for his act of “de-friending” America. But you don’t know if Saverin “de-friended” America. That’s what you feel. You don’t know if Saverin renounced his citizenship to save on taxes. That’s what other people say, and what we suspect. Could there be other reasons? May Saverin defend himself? But should he even try to since his accusers and judges – the media and the manufactured public outrage – are essentially using him as a stalking horse?

    Chuck Schumer’s law isn’t even about amending a tax loophole. An amendment to a tax loophole would be where it belongs: in a taxation law. Chuck Schumer’s proposed act has the new innovation of staking a claim on “future” earnings (has a time period even been specified?), prescribes punishments beyond the norms of tax laws (just a wild guess here on my part), and gives the IRS the sole authority to decide what is or is not a legitimate excuse or explanation to renounce citizenship. However what is an acceptable excuse or reason is not stated in this proposed act, thereby giving them much leeway to decide.

    So to me, even at first glance this Ex-Patriot Act is not as simple and straightforward as it seems. I could be wrong about many of my assumptions, which means that upon correction my views will probably have to be re-formed. I just feel a more stringent process of consideration and debate should be engaged in by the public and lawmakers before a new, innovative law that regulates human behavior is passed, or else that may be the end of true democracy.

    As for a law like this being a precedent for thought control, I really do think this is how it happens. You know where I’m from, ask anybody (older) from my area to see if what I’m saying matches. First they regulate human behavior, constantly seek to expand on what is a crime, what is acceptable or not based on imposed laws or moral and religious prerogatives. This concentrates ecclesiarchical and executive power from the very top to the bottom and allows this structure of power to penetrate and permeate all levels of society. Having been conditioned into obedience first by circumstances imposed upon them, soon people will be ceaselessly tutored on what are good things to think and what are bad. There will be punishments and rewards also. This is how it begins. Just my two cents though, but something I feel strongly about.

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