Counting Saverin’s Lucky Stars (and Tax Obligations)
As Saverin seems to have gone off into tax haven lala-land, preferring some ex-British seat of imperialism for home of the brave and free, it’s important he understand the continuing benefits he should be paying for. Such as:
– Department of Defense. While it’s easy to discount the good we do, that $680 billion a year we pay to protect us from people who hate us for our freedoms isn’t a cheap meal ticket. That’s 10 Facebook IPO’s per year. Every time we launch a drone strike in Pakistan or Yemen, or pay off a group of outraged villagers in Afghanistan, we’re protecting him in Singapore as much as in
Wichita Silicon Valley. The soon to be empty mega-mall Green Zone in Baghdad didn’t come cheap, nor the black sites in Baghram and ****** and ********** and *****. We may have “led from behind” in Libya, but that leadership meant big buckaroos – solidifying Africa’s biggest source of oil for decades. You can run a lot of Facebook data centers on that.
– Homeland Security. Pulling all those little orgs together may not have saved any money, but at least we can look at the pot and go “Wow! $60 billion a year”. And when Saverin goes through customs and gets a body scan and a full cavity search, he’ll know his tax dollars have been well spent, even before they ask him about suspected Brazilian terrorist roots and put him in isolation for 2 weeks without seeing his lawyer before packing him back to Singapore.
– Gulf Clean Up. Hope you didn’t believe those headlines saying BP would handle this all, or a few good citizens picking up oil balls and dead seagulls on the beach – it’s up to good citizens like Saverin to pick up the slack where capitalist markets and the free hand fail. Who says we don’t do safety nets?
– GM Profits. Yes, our part ownership in GM continues to be a healthy investment we should all be proud of, currently running at 60 cents per share & 4% rev growth, rather than Facebook’s 70 gazillion % & mega $$$. We shouldn’t discriminate against the old economy – corporations have feelings too.
Jobs Program. Just kidding, comic relief.
– Mortgage Bailout. Of course banks will pay something on the trillion dollar scandal, but $25 billion will only go so far – especially since states are already stealing the money to balance their budgets rather than helping out home owners. So we depend on enterprising souls like Saverin to step up to the plate and help out… or else. As the government will be carrying most of the burden from ignoring the problem and defending the banks, we need stalwart citizens tax refugees to do their part.
– Health Care. While it doesn’t kick in until 2014, 5 years after Saverin’s departure, and will be axed 15 minutes after the GOP gains control, we have a lot of committed expenses to making sure Big Pharma and Insurance companies make a long-term profit – can’t be fair weather friends here. So just because Saverin’s only 30 doesn’t mean we haven’t contemplated his long-term health needs and ability to pay. And the doctor says he could lose a kidney or liver to fund our system of overcharging – if not people like him, then who?
– Agriculture Subsidies. Yes, our health care system would be nothing without the steady flow of unnecessary treatment based on obesity, diabetes and other afflictions caused by Death Star portions of corn syrup provided in every packaged food stuff available. And that’s only one of the benefits – think of the usefulness of propping up Iowa’s economy so they can be the first caucus every 4 years, telling us how “real Americans” feel. It might seem a waste to a citizen from Brazil, where they can’t get their efficient ethanol through your high tariff system, but that’s exactly the point – we’re keeping our agricultural freedom by holding out the riffraff of countries who’d do the job for less. And that security is worth something – ching ching.
– Gitmo, Medical Marijuana and Abortion. Yes, they’re small issues, but it takes a lot of money for the Department of Justice to defend the right to detain and torture and override the wishes of individual states on privacy. Or use the levers of government to dictate state policy. Think of the teams of lawyers required to work around Geneva Conventions and regular tort laws, to find inventive ways to delay findings and assert national security over everyday emails. And whatever fails in legislative aisles can be asserted in judicial chambers to strike down long-standing case law – rather successfully once you’ve bought and paid for the bench. While government workers have the reputation of being too lazy to steal, the legal class combines the best of Wall Street and government – sometimes even at the same time and on the same payroll. The point being, this kind of influence (as someone from Brazil should know) doesn’t come for free.
– Social Security. Yes, it’s self-funding, no it won’t go bankrupt, but since we’re still stealing the Social Security surplus and underfunding obligations to give tax breaks to the rich, someone needs to help us pay for mandatory payouts, and we can’t ask the poor we took it from to pay again. (Well, actually we could – we could call it “Preserving America’s Financial Freedom Act” or something witty and patriotic.) And the rich who are already paying a pittance to influence our elections won’t be bothered for more. Of course we know Social Security will be on sound footing no matter how much we raid the coffers and government overspends in other areas – because we’ve put a lien on the earnings of Mr. Saverin and other patriotic ex-citizens for the rest of their natural born lives. (We’d tax him through his children’s lives too, but a tax on inheritance would be a “death tax”, and we’re not morbid – a tax on people who’ve left the country is much more fair and balanced).
– Wall Street. Yep, how else would Facebook make money on an IPO if we hadn’t shuffled $2 trillion out the back door to prop up Goldman Sachs and their kin? And giving them 0% loans to loan back to the government rather than loaning to startups like Facebook as the law intended? Yes, Saverin owes an obligation to our financial foresightedness – being a hacker-type, he probably would have gone and wasted the money on foolish untested ventures like cloud computing centers and Zynga mobile games. Those guys manipulating Aunt Millie and shearing unsuspecting investors into pumping up the Facebook pyramid don’t work for free – even during economic meltdowns and government bailouts, they need their bonuses to keep running, and it’s the Facebooks of the world that ensures this system of patronage, hostile takeovers and naked short selling keeps on producing results, for better or worse. What would the American brand be without Wall Street? Hollywood, that’s what – Silicon Valley would just be a burr on the butt of another west coast tourist ride.
– Occupy Wall Street. Encouraging dissent and coordinating illegal ways to shut it down is a fine balance we’ve perfected. Lesser countries would have their Arab Springs and other uncertainties during election years – for us, we make business more stable for the Facebooks of the world by manufacturing dissent and agreement – at the same time. Not only that, the faux outrage bolsters Facebook’s bottom-line. Only Twitter has done better in the last 4 years, what with the historical election of 2008 and the social media trends ever since. Facebook wins every time Homeland Security launches a new on-line disinformation campaign, NSA data mines on-line chatting habits, companies require employees to turn over Facebook passwords, local police & DoJ coordinate to send in informers to stifle protest or put in shadow-puppets on-line – they all buy into the Facebook brand.
– Tax Havens. It’s not by accident that US corporations are able to stuff away profits overseas, nor that we find ways for them to repatriate the same monies untaxed for a slim nickel. Why else would foreign investors put their money in mismanaged funds and overleveraged operations? (aside from insider lobbying and a gamed playing field). Where else could Steve Jobs pay himself a token $1 a year to avoid millions in income taxes? It takes a lot of imagination and legislation to allow companies and individuals alike to take advantage of approved tax dodges. And takes newbies like Saverin who speak too clearly to pay for it. (okay, we have all those expats with trailers in Mexico to grab as well, but normally they just have a few pesos stuffed in their pillows – with Saverin we’ve reached paydirt)
So hopefully Saverin can see the wisdom of our tax code and our opportunistic Congressional posturing to have him pay his fair share, to quote The Shining, “forever… and ever… and ever….”. It is an election year after all, and in these years we’re able to harness our political and media warriors to focus down on the craven irrational self-interest that drives our most important decisions. Other years, we can’t be bothered, as we’re too busy counting the dough and taking fact finding trips to Jamaica.