AN OPEN LETTER TO EDUARDO SAVERIN

The following is a guest post by reader Ross Thomas.

“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.” – Bill Gates

Dear Eduardo Saverin (if I may call you that),

You were, as I’m sure you’re aware, born in Brazil to a wealthy family, and were moved to Miami when you were a child. To America, the land of opportunity. And boy, did you ever have a lot of opportunities. Your parents sent you to Harvard, where according to Wikipedia you “took advantage of Brazil’s lax insider trading regulations and made $300,000 via strategic investments in the oil industry”. Well played! I bet that made your parents proud. In 2004 you were vaguely instrumental in setting up Facebook – a thriving startup which you helped turn into the world’s most overvalued company – and in 2009 you moved to Singapore. In 2011, just before Facebook’s IPO, you renounced your US citizenship, once again to exploit loopholes in international law for your own personal gain.

You are the worst kind of capitalist. You’re the kind of capitalist who shows up in a new country and sees only spoils to be pillaged, other people’s property to make your own. The opportunity you see is for yourself and yourself alone; you fail to realize that every opportunity comes with a cost. Your goal – as Marx observed of the obnoxious pseudo-capitalists of his own day – is to accumulate, accumulate, accumulate. But you don’t even have the chutzpah to stick around: you run away with your loot to a rather dull little tax haven in the South China Sea, sticking your former countrymen with your bills.

Real capitalists build nations. They understand they can only profit if society does too: that society enables them to profit in the first place by providing political stability, a system of finance for raising capital, security from our enemies, courts of law in which to settle disputes, roads on which to transport goods and workers, Internet links through which to channel data, and on and on. Real capitalists tend, nourish, and grow their communities so that they may reap an even greater harvest of profits next year, to everyone’s mutual benefit. You raided the vegetable garden.

You give capitalism a bad name, and I no longer wish to be associated with you or your company. Thus I have deactivated my Facebook account and switched to Google+. I hope your American customers understand that because of your oh-so-clever legal maneuverings you will be paying less tax on your billions, and they will have to make up the difference. And I hope next time you visit America you’re made to feel as welcome as you deserve.

You, Mr Saverin, are no Bill Gates.

Ross Thomas

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