When you own a fleet of only ten yachts and your friends all own eleven you must make A-mends. One obvious help, particularly if you’re a member of the Donald Trump “America First” administration, is to avoid those pesky port-of-call taxes and register your yachts not with the United States of America but the Cayman Islands.
One of Betsy DeVos’ yachts, the forty million dollar one hundred and sixty five foot “Seaquest,” was set adrift at its moorings last week by a person or persons unknown (and causing, tsk tsk, approximately ten thousand dollars in damage), avoids those very taxes by flying the flag of those self same Caymans. And thank God for that, lest the modest fortune of the DeVos family should shrink from its current 1.3 billion dollars to something around an anemic 1.299 billion.
When she’s not presiding over a fortune that includes four airplanes, two helicopters, a household staff (comprising specialized assistants for the selection of Christmas presents) and ownership of the Orlando Magic basketball team, Education Secretary DeVos is busy keeping democracy safe from needlessly educating working class children. The DeVos family fortune is derived from the multilevel marketing company Amway (pig Latin for “Wam”). You know the one, that pyramid scheme company that turned your uncle Harold into such a gawdawful pest, who, it’s true, made only $149.63 last month but will soon be quitting his day job because he will presently be a millionaire. That one.
But at least Betsy DeVos, a woman second only to Donald Trump in pure mind-numbing stupidity, isn’t so stupid as to actually pay American taxes when she doesn’t have to. Or ever. That job is left squarely in the safekeeping of the parents of the children she’s so incessantly trying to prevent from becoming educated.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.