Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Rebooting Our Definition of “Patriotism”

by DAVID MACARAY

Which is more “patriotic”—to loyally refrain from criticizing your government’s foreign policies, no matter how brutal or peremptory they may be (including those that result in quasi-legal, immoral military adventurism that kills thousands of innocent civilians), or to loyally pony up when your government asks you to make a relatively minor economic sacrifice?

Two specific examples. Who were the more “patriotic” citizens—those anti-war protesters, both young and old, who marched in the streets during the tumultuous Vietnam era of the 1960s and 1970s, or those mega-wealthy citizens of 2012 who have renounced their U.S. citizenship and re-located to foreign countries in order to avoid paying higher taxes? Call me a starry-eyed idealist, but I like to think it’s the former.

On June 25, the New York Post reported that twice as many ultra-rich Americans as in the previous year are expected to renounce their U.S. citizenship in order to avoid higher taxes. Granted, the New York Post doesn’t have the institutional whiskers of, say, the New York Times, but the Post does provide the requisite statistics and attribution to make its story credible.

The Post reported that, in 2012, approximately 8,000 Americans are projected to renounce their U.S. citizenship in order to seek refuge in more tax-friendly countries (Costa Rica, Singapore, Cayman Islands, Antigua, et al). They compare this figure to the 3,805 Americans who did so in 2011.

The article quotes Jim Duggan, a lawyer at the law firm of Duggan Bertsch: “High net-worth individuals are making decisions that having a U.S. passport just isn’t worth the cost anymore,” he said. “They’re able to do what they do from any place in the world, and they’re choosing to do it from places with much lower tax rates.” He fails to mention that federal income tax rates are lower than they’ve been in several decades.

So, whether these fat cats live in stately mansions within gated communities in the U.S., or in stately mansions within gated communities in Costa Rica, it’s not going to make any difference to them because they don’t “belong” to either community and never will belong. In truth, the very concept of belonging to a “community” (in the sense that most of us regard that term) is meaningless to them.

Duggan’s observation that wealthy people can now “do what they do from any place in the world” is actually quite chilling. Drones can kill people anywhere, satellites can spy on people anywhere, computer viruses can be sent from anywhere, and vast fortunes can be made from anywhere. Not to be morbid, but it’s worth noting that those philosophers who predicted that “abstraction” would eventually result in the disintegration of our here-and-now world, and lead to widespread alienation, may have been right.

When I mentioned this story to a Republican friend of mine, and went on a prolonged rant about the alarming greed and selfishness of these unpatriotic bastards, he instantly seized upon what he believed to be a brilliant counter-argument. He smugly asked if my scorn was reserved only for “very successful Americans” (his words) or if I were also willing to label “unpatriotic” those Mexicans who fled their home country to seek economic gain in the U.S.

Weak argument. People escaping grinding poverty by crossing national borders is one thing, but people who, literally, have more money than they know what to do with—who already have their yachts and cars and art and luxury homes, but who would rather relinquish their national identity than share a small fraction more of their wealth with their own government—is a whole other deal. Good riddance to them.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former labor union rep. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]