Conservatives Threaten to Improve the Country by Leaving

Several years ago when teabag disoriented Republicans from state to state in the course of throwing competing hissy fits about the scourge of Obama began bandying about secession with a lot of yahoo swagger I was less alarmed than filled with cheer and hope that several states at least would pull out. The faint promise that Rick Perry actually would sever Texas and its capital punishment death regime from the United States, along with its methane machine of cow farts and insufferable oil barons most certainly toyed with my affections.

All hat and no cattle of course. But though we’re stuck with this lot of reactionaries and rubes there’s a new ray of promise appearing on the horizon. Apparently Eduardo Saverin, Mark Zuckerberg’s chicken-sheltering roommate and shafted Facebook co-founder has declared his intention to renounce his American citizenship (he was born in Brazil and became a citizen in 1998). According to Saverin’s spokeswoman it is entirely coincidental he is about to come into a great deal of additional wealth as the result of the approaching Facebook IPO, Eduardo presumably soon to owe the United States a grande serving of tax loot.

Whatever Eduardo’s true motivations and deepest feelings (He was treated pretty shabbily by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network) his mini-secession has made him a hero to some on the American right on the grounds that he is absconding with booty which otherwise would fall into the hands of the evil government. Let’s hope Eduardo can keep his hands off the chickens in Singapore, his adopted homeland, because they cane you for misbehaving there.

Since the Clinton era the simple reality of a Democratic president compels some of America’s redder states and spiteful righties to bolt for the border or at least to threaten to. With their militias, sovereignty and secessionist movements the message seems to be, you can take your patriotism and shove it. Of course I’m egging them on…and out. But in this case it’s about the awful taxes, and it isn’t gun toting Ernest T. Bass types cheering Eduardo on, it’s Forbes magazine. John Tamny, author of the magazine’s article, “For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Is An American Hero,” says:

“Saverin’s departure is also a reminder to politicians that while they can obnoxiously decree what percentage of our income we’ll hand them in taxes, what they vote for won’t necessarily reflect reality. Indeed, as evidenced by Saverin’s renunciation, tax rates and collection of monies on those rates are two different things. Assuming nosebleed rates of taxation were a driver of Saverin’s decision, politicians will hopefully see that if too greedy about collecting the money of others, they’ll eventually collect nothing.”

Members of the reality-based community know of course that Tamny shares the communal delusion of American conservatives that there are “nosebleed rates of taxation,” at a time when tax rates are as low as they have ever been (And remain among the lowest in the world) and federal tax revenues are at historically low levels as a percentage of GDP. Capital gains rates are historically low, the inheritance tax is all but gone, and revenue from corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP has gone from 6.1% in 1952 to 2.7% in 2006 and finally to 1.3% in 2010. Run, Mr. Tamny, run.

It certainly makes sense for conservatives to hit the bricks. They don’t like most of us anyhow. States fully under the control of Republicans can’t seem to go out of their way fast enough to target immigrants, gays, citizens receiving temporary government assistance or public employees and union workers with some sort of gratuitously punitive or humiliatingly cockamamie law or referendum. Many consider the current president elected with 365 electoral votes a traitorous non-citizen, communistic Muslim usurper, so this is not just a disagreeing minority but one with acute animus toward a majority of the country’s citizens.

And threats to leave the country by the Eduardo Saverins of the world and other one-percenters are pretty empty these days. According to the Department of Commerce, from 2000 to 2009 transnational corporations employing 20% of all American workers cut domestic employment by 2.9 million jobs while increasing the overseas workforce by 2.4 million. They’re half-way out the door anyhow, apparently keeping their headquarters here for the protection afforded by our military might and our, as of now, still stable society, despite its historic inequality.

Eduardo’s line of work now seems to be “investing”, in other words playing the investment casino like our other gamblers of the one percent who just wrecked our economy doing so with apparent impunity. So I doubt Eduardo would be creating a lot of jobs anytime soon. In any case let me be the first to say to the lot of them: Don’t let the proverbial screen door hit you in the proverbial fanny.

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