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Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Social Network is Unhappy with Eduardo Saverin

As we discuss in our textbook, Americans tend to be more patriotic than people in many other developed countries.  They look with disfavor on those who renounce American citizenship. And they especially dislike it when the ex-citizens seem to be active on selfish motives.  The case of Eduardo Saverin is a good example, as The Los Angeles Times explains:

Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who renounced his U.S. citizenship in what many have seen  as a move to avoid paying federal taxes, has managed to unify many Americans behind Uncle Sam's outstretched hand.
Normally, Uncle Sam is portrayed as the guy trying to separate you from the contents of your wallet, right?
But many in the online world this week are outraged at the perception that Saverin is trying to dodge the tax man. Americans feel personally ripped off, according to comments posted across a variety of social media platforms. Saverin made his riches off Facebook-loving U.S. taxpayers and is now defriending the country that made him rich when it comes time to add some of that money back to U.S. tax coffers.
A spokeswoman for Saverin says the move was not intended to avoid paying taxes. It just makes more sense, she said, because Saverin plans to live in Singapore for an indefinite period of time handling business ventures that he's launching in that part of the world. Although tax-planning experts call the move shrewd, the timing -- days before the IPO -- is just too convenient for many.
Among them, mogul Mark Cuban who Tweeted a story about Saverin to his more than 1 million followers and added: "This [ticks] me off ... If i could realistically stop using facebook, this would be the reason I would. Just wrong."
At Pando Daily, Farhad Manjoo explains:
When Eduardo Saverin was 13, his family discovered that his name had turned up on a list of victims to be kidnapped by Brazilian gangs. Saverin’s father was a wealthy businessman in São Paulo, and it was inevitable that he’d attract this kind of unwanted attention. Now the family had to make a permanent decision. They hastily arranged a move out of the country. And of all the places in the world they could move to, the Saverin family saw only one option. They took their talents to Miami.
Would it be too much to say that America saved Eduardo Saverin? Probably. Maybe that’s just too overwrought. The Saverins were just another in a long line of immigrants who’d come to America for the opportunity it affords—the opportunity, among other things, to not have to worry that your child will be kidnapped just because you’ve become wealthy.
Just because his parents moved here doesn’t mean Eduardo Saverin owes America anything, right?
Yet if you study the trajectory of Saverin’s life—the path that took him from being an immigrant kid to a Harvard student to an instant billionaire to the subject of an Oscar-winning motion picture—it emerges as a uniquely American story. At just about every step between his landing in Miami and his becoming a co-founder of Facebook, you find American institutions and inventions playing a significant part in his success.