The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Stateless and Fancy-Free | Russ Wellen

“As most people continue to batten down the financial hatches, an elite group of the world’s ‘stateless super-rich’ is blossoming, and transcending geographical boundaries to purchase properties in major cities across the globe,” reported Tanya Powley and Lucy Warwick-Ching in April at the Financial Times. They lead “nomadic, season-driven lives [with] no strong ties to specific countries.” [Emphasis added.]

At AlterNet, Sam Pizzigatti, who linked to the FT article, explains that this practice creates

… havoc in the hotspots where the stateless super rich most often gather. Their gathering, a veritable gentrification on steroids, tends to supersize prices for all sorts of local products and services — and price out local residents. The massive mansions and apartments of the stateless super rich also exacerbate local housing shortages — and constitute as assault on any healthy sense of urban community. 

Equally troubling is their effect on their states of origin, such as the United States. Pizzigatti points out:

The number of Americans who’ve formally renounced their U.S. citizenship has jumped by over seven-fold, from 235 in 2008 to 1,780 last year. The spark for this surge in statelessness? Since 2008, U.S. tax officials have been endeavoring to clamp down more firmly on overseas tax evasion.

Between globe-trotting and globalization, U.S. super-rich and corporations see themselves as less and less grounded in the United States. Rank and file conservatives and Tea Partiers don’t get this. They believe that making a killing is not only our right as Americans — it’s in the Constitution somewhere, isn’t it? — but essential to what it means to be an American replete with the Protestant Ethic.

They don’t understand, nor did our founders anticipate, that the more flush individuals and corporations become, the less reliant they are on the United States for their continued wealth. Parking their funds offshore, their idea of patriotic duty is to leave no stone unturned in their quest to keep their money as tax-free as possible.

Much of whatever money the super-rich and corporations still spend in America is on lobbying toward that end. The well-being of a public with whom they have little interaction and the state of America’s infrastructure, services, and programs is of little concern to them. In the end, the super-rich and corporations are all too often the least patriotic of Americans. [++]