Don’t Let the Door Hit You

I almost laughed out loud when I saw that Forbes Magazine had published an article about the absurdly tiny but nonetheless (to them) significant, headlong rush of the rich to leave Socialist America, which to the folk at Forbes was a bad thing, rather than a cause for exultation.  Would that it were so:  think of the money taxpayers and ordinary people would save if they didn’t have to support the excessive lifestyles of the banksters, war profiteers, polluters, “developers,” and on and on who have captured the funding and regulatory arms of the government for their own vulgar aggrandizement; Dubai’s loss would, in this case, be America’s gain.  Cheaper housing, cheaper restaurants, and cheaper, well, everything would be great, but the best part would be the mass outmigration of arrogant, sociopathic assholes who really think they are worth 500 times what everyone else is, and act accordingly, making the rest of us miserable on a daily basis.  Given that no other country on earth idolizes its rich so fawningly, with all the privileges such fawning entails, the chances of this happening make zero look like a big number, but never mind all that.  Here’s Dan Mitchell, a “Senior Fellow” at the Washington-based Cato Institute, a “free-market” think tank, which means he relies on wingnut welfare to spout propaganda instead of contributing to society through useful work.

The Financial Times reports that the number of Americans giving up their citizenship to protect their families from America’s onerous worldwide tax system has jumped rapidly. Even relatively high-tax nations such as the United Kingdom are attractive compared to the class-warfare system that Obama is creating in the United States. I run into people like this quite often as part of my travels. They are intensely patriotic to America as a nation, but they have lots of scorn for the federal government. Statists are perfectly willing to forgive terrorists like William Ayres, but they heap scorn on these “Benedict Arnold” taxpayers. But the tax exiles get the last laugh since the bureaucrats and politicians now get zero percent of their foreign-source income. You would think that, sooner or later, the left would realize they can get more tax revenue with reasonable tax rates. But that assumes that collectivists are motivated by revenue maximization rather than spite and envy.

As usual, imaginary friends and tinny cold war epithets form the duct tape that purportedly hold this flimsy argument together, but could it possibly have been made slightly less offensive and a bit more plausible by leaving out calling tax evasion “patriotic” and misspelling its manufactured villain’s name?  (It’s Ayers, you righty halfwit…)  The best part is that he treats “revenue maximization” as something good and holy, while “spite and envy” are sordid and evil, as a supposed justification for such greed-driven voluntary statelessness.  Anyone who has watched how the Republicans talk about the unemployed and all manner of their other chosen “lesser people”  (thanks, Alan Simpson for putting it so refreshingly bluntly…), and it’s pretty obvious where the spite, if not the envy, lies in this debate.

The number of wealthy Americans living in the UK who are renouncing their US citizenship is rising rapidly as more expatriates seek to escape paying tax to the US on their worldwide income and gains and shed their “non-dom” status, accountants say. As many as 743 American expatriates made the irreversible decision to discard their passports last year, according to the US government – three times as many as in 2008. …There is a waiting list at the embassy in London for people looking to give up citizenship, with the earliest appointments in February, lawyers and accountants say. …“The big disadvantage with American citizens is they catch you on tax wherever you are in the world. If you are taxed only in the UK, you have the opportunity of keeping your money offshore tax free.”

Since, as we all know, but only Leona Helmsley came out and said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”  Tony Hayward calls them, perhaps in a nod to the Queen’s English, “small people,” but you get the idea.

To grasp the extent of this problem, here are blurbs from two other recent stories. Time magazine discusses the unfriendly rules that make life a hassle for overseas Americans.

See, even the “liberal media” is deeply worried about the rich…  you should be, too.  The point of the whole thing is that Time reported that wealthy people (500 or so of them), have such snazzy tax lawyers that, like Dick Cheney, they came up with a way to not pay taxes pretty much at all by buying a fake address someplace awful, then profiting off of American taxpayer money, bailouts, legal immunity, and (!) citizenship, while living wherever they damn well please.  The main complaint is that they have to report every little cash transaction over $10,000, which we all know can be so onerous.  I bet tipping will suffer from that.  Then they find the following hogwash in the New York Times, but leave out whether the author is Ben Stein, Tom Friedman, William Kristol, or Ross Douthat:

…. American expats have long complained that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence, though they are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income.

Oh, I see; they found a tax that wasn’t devised to tilt to the rich.  It’s like a bunch of Che Guevaras in mink.

One Swiss-based business executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of sensitive family issues, (That’s one way to put it…)  said she weighed the decision for 10 years. She had lived abroad for years but had pleasant memories of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Yet the notion of double taxation — and of future tax obligations for her children, who will receive few U.S. services — finally pushed her to renounce, she said. …Stringent new banking regulations — aimed both at curbing tax evasion and, under the Patriot Act, preventing money from flowing to terrorist groups — have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the United States and in some cases abroad. Some U.S.-based banks have closed expats’ accounts because of difficulty in certifying that the holders still maintain U.S. addresses, as required by a Patriot Act provision.

Ah, what suffering, to have one’s multiple six-figure income, floating through the ether in banks all over the world, bothered with by one’s freeloading fellow citizens trying to get their dirty paws on it.  (Under a law dreamed up by the socialist (?) Bush Administration,  but niggling details like that don’t faze Cato…)  At least these beleaguered expats have a better chance of seeing their tax dollars at work than those of us at home do; if they’re lucky a bomb or drone might kill somebody or flatten a town in their area.  More likely, a hefty dividend check from the latest no-bid contract, a court decision relieving you of all liability for your latest crime, or a no-strings government bailout will land in your Swiss or Cayman Islands mail box with nary a thud, courtesy of the American taxpayer.  That’s what I call patriotic.

22 Comments

  1. michlib says:

    That 15% tax on capital gains and dividend income must be a killer. The federal government so derided by the rich has actually showered them with preferential treatment the last thirty years. Throw in the huge expense of cleaning up the externalities their combines inevitably leave behind, the court systems they use at will but strive to close for the rabble, and the conclusion must be that there’s no pleasing these people. It will be interesting to see how quickly their new ” rent a state ” hosts tire of them. Somalia ( aka
    Libertarianland ) awaits with open arms – locked & loaded too !!

    • cocktailhag says:

      I still wonder where they’ll all go. The article says the UK, and as we’ve seen even the dumbest and most worthless rich (Bp executives, f’rinstance…) do seem to live there quite happily, but Maggie’s been gone a long time, and would that really pencil out? All those countries are starting to get the Servant Problem, which has been pretty well solved here.
      I guess to bring them back, we’d just have to give up, say, running water and a few things, and we’d be in like Flynn.

  2. nailheadtom says:

    A wall could be built around the country and then those evil capitalists would have to stay and take their lumps.

    http://www.cobdencentre.org/2010/07/the-writing-on-the-berlin-wall-pictures-of-the-socialistic-future/

    • cocktailhag says:

      The people you read are complete retards, Tom. Honestly, mixing up totalitarian communism with Scandinavian-style socialism is the first clue that the guy is a liar and an idiot. Moreover, equating Nazism with socialism is so dumb it belongs only on Glenn Beck. What, pray, does our cash-gobbling military industrial complex resemble, if not the demented state planning of the Soviet Union? As I continue to say, to no rebuttal, it is YOUR economic fantasies, not socialism, that has never been done successfully. Ever. Much of Western Europe is still doing fine, while your stupid ideas, under George W. Bush, quite predictably ruined the world economy.
      Evidence, please, not the yammerings from bozos that jerk off to pictures of Ayn Rand.

      • nailheadtom says:

        ” The Swedes pay a high cost for their style of living:

        ….they also have one of the heaviest tax burdens in the world. Today, an average Swedish working family pays about half its earned income in national and local taxes. Swedes also pay taxes on investment income. In addition, Sweden has a national 25 percent sales tax that is built into the price of consumer goods. Beyond this, employers must pay corporate taxes and make payments into government pension, unemployment, and other social welfare funds. The resulting tax burden is so heavy that Swedes have a special word for it, skattetrat, which means “tax tiredness.” (87)

        Government spending currently equals about 60 percent of Sweden’s gross domestic product (the value of all goods and services purchased in a year). U.S. government spending by contrast accounts for about 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The Swedish government’s fastest growing spending areas are health services and old-age pensions. Furthermore, public employment has rocketed to account for about one-third of all jobs in Sweden. (In the United States, the government supplies less than 5 percent of all jobs.) (87)

        The (Libertarian) Cato institute offers this historical analysis of Sweden’s economy (88):

        Recall that by the early 1950s Sweden was by far the richest country in Europe. Its per capita GNP was twice the European average and 25 percent above that of Switzerland, which ranked second.

        Sweden’s dismal economic performance from 1970 to 1990 was no less striking than its high growth from 1870 to 1930.

        After the collapse of communism, some Swedes (especially the Social Democrats) thought the Swedish model would be an attractive choice for the newly emerging democracies of Central Europe. But it has not been. Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia have wisely chosen to look for free-market solutions. Other nations in that region show little interest in the Swedish model.

        What should be recommended to anyone who hopes to succeed with the Swedish model? Follow the first hundred years of capitalist growth and avoid the subsequent mistakes.”

        • cocktailhag says:

          You ought to be embarrassed for using such irrelevant “evidence,” which only serves to “refudiate” your argument, if you want to call it that, that Sweden is some hellhole and Hungary is some paradise. Thought about quality of life? Life expectancy? Education levels? Health? Of course not.
          As usual, your examples only show that healthy societies are not, ever, Randian, and a country’s reliance on the “free market” will be directly proportional to its desperation and squalor.
          Show me a Swede who would rather live in, say, Czechoslovakia, and I’ll show you a pretty dumb Swede.

          • avelna says:

            Sweden, along with the other Scandinavian countries are considered to be the happiest places in the world to live, Tom’s statistics notwithstanding.
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/15/top-10-happiest-countries_n_204096.html

          • cocktailhag says:

            Don’t tell Tom… He still thinks that the “Happiest Place on Earth” is Disneyland.

          • dirigo says:

            As one who is mostly Swedish and Scottish – influenced as I am by the sea, storms, wool sweaters, and Beowulfian dragons – I can tell Tom, categorically, that Swedes, Danes, and Fins don’t give a shit whether he thinks they would be happier with the political program he advocates.

            Many people around the world have moved on from the cold war, have made various accommodations with mixed economic policies, are grateful for the mighty American shield, and are having fun and living well.

            In that context, the Swedes especially don’t care a fig about puritanism, which is the phenomenon – or psychosis – resting on the obsession that someone somewhere is having a good time – most probably in bed.

            Got that, Tom?

            Many, many people in the world are not listening to American righties. Can you imagine Swedes spending thirty seconds, gathered around the telly, listening to Mitch McConnell? Or Sarah Palin? I can’t.

            And as for the grumpy, affluent, American “expats” who want to leave, I say good riddance.

            As the hardhats had it during the Nixon era:
            “LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.”

            On the other hand, considering the building boom in the national surveillance state apparatus, there are probably lots of safe, secure condominiums in these new buildings – said to be the equivalent in square footage to three Pentagons – for the frightened, angry, flag-waving, hectoring, nationalists, like Tom.

            Shelter from the storm, thanks to Uncle Sam.

            Hoo-ahhhhh …

          • nailheadtom says:

            If Sweden were a US State, it would be the poorest state in the union

            Reuters Market News Swedes less well off than poorest Americans -study

            STOCKHOLM, May 4 (Reuters) – Swedes, usually perceived in Europe as a comfortable, middle class lot, are poorer than African Americans, the most economically deprived group in the United States, a Swedish study showed on Saturday.

            The study by a retail trade lobby, published in the liberal Dagens Nyheter newspaper 19 weeks before the next general election, echoed the centre-right opposition’s criticism of the weak state of Sweden’s economy after decades of almost uninterrupted Social Democratic rule.

            The Swedish Research Institute of Trade (HUI) said it had compared official U.S. and Swedish statistics on household income as well as gross domestic product, private consumption and retail spending per capita between 1980 and 1999.

            Using fixed prices and purchasing power parity adjusted data, the median household income in Sweden at the end of the 1990s was the equivalent of $26,800 compared with a median of $39,400 for U.S. households, HUI’s study showed.

            “Weak growth means that Sweden has lost greatly in prosperity compared with the United States,” HUI’s President Fredrik Bergstrom and chief economist Robert Gidehag said.

            International Monetary Fund data from 2001 show that U.S. GDP per capita in dollar terms was 56 percent higher than in Sweden while in 1980, Swedish GDP per capita was 20 percent higher.

            “Black people, who have the lowest income in the United States, now have a higher standard of living than an ordinary Swedish household,” the HUI economists said.

            If Sweden were a U.S. state, it would be the poorest measured by household gross income before taxes, Bergstrom and Gidehag said.

            They said they had chosen that measure for their comparison to get around the differences in taxation and welfare structures. Capital gains such as income from securities were not included.

            AMERICANS CAN BUY MORE

            The median income of African American households was about 70 percent of the median for all U.S. households while Swedish households earned 68 percent of the overall U.S. median level.

            This meant that Swedes stood “below groups which in the Swedish debate are usually regarded as poor and losers in the American economy,” Bergstrom and Gidehag said.

            Between 1980 and 1999, the gross income of Sweden’s poorest households increased by just over six percent while the poorest in the United States enjoyed a three times higher increase, HUI said.

            If the trend persists, “things that are commonplace in the United States will be regarded as the utmost luxury in Sweden,” the authors said. “We are not quite there yet but the trend is clear.”

            According to HUI figures, in 1998-99 U.S. GDP per capita was 40 percent higher than in Sweden while U.S. private consumption and retail sales per capita exceeded Swedish levels by more than 80 percent.

            The HUI economists attributed the much bigger difference in consumption and sales mainly to the fact that U.S. households pay themselves for education and health care, services which are tax-financed and come for free or at low user charges in Sweden.

            According to recent opinion polls Sweden’s Social Democrats are comfortably ahead of the centre-right opposition in the run-up to the September 15 elections.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Sheesh, Tom. Thanks for providing additional data to support my argument. Those income differentials, minus such trivia as education and health care, add up to a much less ruthless and rich-dominated society than we have, much less the kind you’d like. Health care for a family? How about twelve grand a tear, to start? Education? Oh, about fifty grand per kid, but at least it’s a one-off.
            I anxiously await meeting your friend Sven, who is packing for Hungary as we speak.

          • nailheadtom says:

            “. . . why I fear governments and large corporations–it is hard to distinguish between them. . . . Corporations survive not because they have made good forecasts, but because . . . they may have been the lucky ones. And, like a restaurant owner, they may be hurting themselves, not us–perhaps helping us and subsidizing our consumption by giving us goods in the process, like cheap telephone calls to the rest of the world funded by the overinvestment during the dotcom era. We consumers can let them forecast all they want if that’s what is necessary for them to get into business. Let them go hang themselves if they wish.

            As a matter of fact, . . . we . . . are all benefiting from the quixotic overconfidence of corporations and restaurant entrepreneurs. This is the benefit of capitalism that people discuss the least.

            But corporations can go bust as often as they like, thus subsidizing us consumers by transferring their wealth into our pockets–the more bankruptcies the better it is for us. Government is a more serious business and we need to make sure we do not pay the price for its folly. As individuals we should love free markets because operators in them can be as incompetent as they wish.”

            “The Black Swan”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House, 2007, pg. 180-181.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Well, the “overconfidence” of, say, Enron and Goldman Sachs, Chase Bank, Citigroup, and on and on certainly didn’t benefit anyone, except the miscreants themselves.

          • dirigo says:

            My tongue is always in my cheek, Tom ol’ boy, but I still don’t think the Scandies give a damn about what American righties think.

            Being an American version of that type, I don’t either because I don’t much care about your pure free market arguments.

            They don’t consider, ever it seems, rather ineffable “quality life” issues: things that money can’t buy.

            In that sense, you remain tone-deaf.

          • dirigo says:

            As I was saying: Ho hum.

            “Keynes’s General Theory may well be a work of genius, but I have always been more attracted to his short 1930 essay, ‘Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren’, in which, in the teeth of the Great Depression, Keynes reminded us that the long-run trend was inexorable growth. ‘I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is today,’ he wrote. After 80 years, a world war, and a depression, citizens in the US and western Europe are about five times richer than when Keynes was writing. We seem to be on track.

            “Keynes’s essay explored something his modern disciples often ignore, namely, what would happen when ‘the economic problem’ was solved. By the standards of the 1930s, this problem has been solved. But our response has not been what Keynes expected. He acknowledged that human beings had an insatiable desire to FEEL SUPERIOR TO EACH OTHER, and that some people would always BLINDLY PURSUE WEALTH. But he felt that most of us would adjust, albeit grudgingly, to a life of plenty. We would work less and amuse ourselves in other ways. We have not, and civilization continues to depend on the production, purchase, consumption and disposal of the kind of stuff you can see anywhere, from the shelves of Wal Mart to the pages of ‘How to Spend It’. One of the multiple causes of the crisis, after all, was that so many people wanted to borrow more than they could repay.”

            … from “A Sunlit Keynesian Paradise Awaits Our Grandchildren”
            … By Tim Harford
            … The Financial Times
            … 7/21/10

            ~~~

            “We need new forms … ”

            …Anton Chekhov
            …”The Seagull”

            http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show#38353907

            Hard to imagine this being found in Oklahoma. Ahhhhhhh … there’s the rub.

            http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20011242-501465.html?tag=cbsnewsSectionContent.12

  3. Ché Pasa says:

    Neo-Liberal New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (remember Wen Ho Lee!) forbade any tax increase on the Rich and Worthless in the Land of Enchantment earlier this year. No doubt he was certain they’d all vamoose as they say.

    So the legislature (in Democratic hands, of course) decided to impose a sales tax on food instead. Cut school funding. That sort of thing.

    Was scanning Santa Fe real estate prices over at Sotheby’s the other day. Compounds and estates in the tony areas were going for a song for a while there, but after Bill Richardson’s brave stand against Taxing the Rich, elite property prices have rebounded smartly.

    The Opera is Saved! Thank doG!

    Meanwhile, of course, it is widely believed that the Dems will be swept out of state offices in the fall and Rs will take their place to further cut taxes on the rich (state income tax after all is 4.9%, and that’s real money if you make over 500 grand) and increase the levies on the barely scraping by who never pay their fair share anyway.

    Justice!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Phil Knight threatened to take his money and leave Oregon if we passed a modest tax increase on the rich. We did, and he didn’t. Too lazy? I thought the rich were supposed to be industrious.

      • Ché Pasa says:

        Yes, I wish in many cases they would just go. They already take up too much space, use too many resources, and they’re sitting on piles of cash that could be put to productive purposes like schools and healthcare and fixing the potholes that pass for roads in this country. They don’t employ anybody in this country except servants, they don’t manufacture anything in this country, they don’t provide any services (except for speculators and gamblers), and they aren’t even decorative any more.

        Just confiscate their ill-gotten gains and send them to whatever doG-forsaken hellhole they think is so much better. Somalia comes to mind.

        Freedom! Liberty! They can follow their true natures and become Pirates! Arrrrrgh.

        Ptooey.

  4. avelna says:

    But, but…in the UK they have government-run health care. The horror! They’re all going to die for lack of the best health care in the world. Oh wait…they’ll just fly back to the US in order to not miss out on the best health care in the world. That’s ok then.

    • cocktailhag says:

      The rich keep trying to think of countries where they would be revered more, and in the end there aren’t any. But they can still threaten…. (see Knight, Phil, above.)

  5. michlib says:

    I keep waiting for the tsunami of European immigrants to arrive panting and kissing the ground in thanks for deliverance from the socialist hell afflicting them. Also witness the groundswell of demands in parliments throughout the continent for American style healthcare. Free education through college, real family leave, public transit, robust renewable energy industries, the list of evils visited upon these poor souls goes on and on.
    Where do we sign up for Cato’s Commandos or Freedom Works Fighters to liberate the oppressed masses ? The humanity !!!!!