What’s the Bargain?

May 31, 2012 6:36 a.m.

Most have moved on from this. But TPM Reader JH has a good take on just what Eduardo Saverin got out of his US citizenship. One little discussed issue is that coming to the US was in part triggered when Saverin’s name showed up on a list of potential kidnap-for-ransom targets in his native Brazil …

I’m not a lawyer, but as an historian I have always understood that concepts of citizenship in the Western world, particularly the English-speaking world, rested on centuries of English law holding, in part, that in return for the protection of the Crown a citizen owed the monarch his allegiance. You could renounce the allegiance, but while you depended on the protection of the Crown you were bound by certain obligations, including taxation and going to war if that was required.

I believe Senator Schumer stated things very accurately. According to TPM’s account: “The senator emphasized that the Brazilian-born Saverin and his family immigrated to the United States out of fear for their safety while he was a young boy, and said it’s immoral to dodge his responsibilities after having benefited tremendously.”

Let’s just run down the protections the United States has provided to Mr. Saverin, just from what we read in the paper:

1. It provided Saverin and his parents with a safe haven when Eduardo’s name showed up in a kidnapping-for-ransom plan in his native Brazil.

2. It provided a dependable business structure that gave him the confidence to invest in Mark Zuckerberg’s scheme to create what ultimately became Facebook.

3. It provided him with access to a judicial system that came to his aid when Zuckerberg tried to cut him out of the burgeoning growth of Facebook.

4. It provided him with a dependable trading floor on which to enrich himself when Facebook went public (with the shares that the judicial system had protected on his behalf).

Schumer’s correct. To enrich himself by accepting that level of protection from the Crown United States and then pretending he owes this country nothing as he gorges himself on the wealth the country helped him create is immoral. It’s hard to admire any of the people involved with the Facebook saga, but Saverin stands out as a truly contemptible self-seeker.

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