Jeff Jacoby

As the son of one American immigrant and the father of another, I find it hard to muster much empathy for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and his decision to renounce his US citizenship.

Saverin, who was born in Brazil and brought to this country as a child, turned in his American passport last year and moved to Singapore; it is widely assumed that he did so to reduce the taxes he would otherwise have to pay on the billion-dollar gains generated by Facebook's IPO. Saverin denies, not very convincingly, that his expatriation was motivated by tax considerations. "His decision had nothing to do with dissatisfaction here," a spokesman said, "but with his strong desire to do business there."

Well, it takes all kinds to make a global economy, and maybe Saverin genuinely prefers doing business in a quasi-authoritarian society where freedom of the press is unknown. Singapore's economy is one of the world's freest, and its taxes are considerably lower than America's. If such things matter more to Saverin than the blessings that come with American citizenship, it was always his right to leave. At least he had the grace to describe himself as "very grateful to the US for everything it has given me."

Yet while Saverin may not come across as the most appetizing of creatures, he is not nearly as odious as US Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. To hear the two Democrats tell it, Saverin is a virtual traitor, a turncoat who has sinned against America and must be given no quarter.

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for