Eduardo Saverin, a cofounder of Facebook, fled Brazil to Miami at age 13 when kidnappers threatened his wealthy family. This story is a common one for many Latin Americans. My own family fled Cuba in the late 1960s, were put under house arrest, and while well-educated forced into labor camps until they had the authorization to leave Cuba. Fidel Castro also confiscated all their property so when they immigrated to the U.S. they came with nothing.
This past week, as Facebook prepares for their $100 billion IPO, Mr. Saverin, who owns four percent of Facebook, renounced his U.S. citizenship in order avoid paying taxes on income derived from stock sales in the future. Singapore, his new "home country," has no capital gains tax.
Mr. Saverin has been getting a lot of hate for this move to lower his tax bill, but he has also received a lot of praise, surprisingly from America's real patriots, the conservative base. The Heritage Foundation's Mike Brownfield wrote a blog post comparing the U.S.'s tax rates with Singapore's ending his post with "A billionaire like Saverin can afford to flee for greener pastures, but the rest of America isn't so lucky."
Well Mr. Brownfield, if that is how you feel about the U.S., then please do not let the door slam you on your way out to Singapore, a country that once banned chewing gum!
Last July 4, I was at my home church, Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas (the church Conservative pundit Glenn Beck now attends) and they raised the American flag. My Cuban mother was standing next to me. The voice-over read the poem "My Name Is Old Glory" as the flag was raised to the ceiling. My mom was crying. I looked over at her and I said, "Why are you crying?" She said, "Because this country took me in. This flag is my flag. This is my home." It was at that moment that I really understood that, while we were proud of our Cuban heritage, we were even prouder to be Americans.
How many times has our flag been burned because a group of people do not value what we value -- peace, honor, freedom, truth and justice? How can your heart not break when you most likely know someone who has died or fought for our country? These liberties that you have in this country came with a price. This country has had a lot of battles both on its own turf and abroad to defend what we have today.
I know that Mr. Saverin has a history of investing in startups in the U.S. and if he uses the money he saved by giving up the American flag, and reinvests it back into U.S.-based startups, it will be a win-win for the U.S. economy as startups like Facebook, in my own opinion, is what will help fuel our economic future.