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3) Because it really is none of your damned business. This applies more to Joe the Plumber than Mitt the Romney (politicians, and especially presidential aspirants, deserve to be held to a higher standard), but the ugly truth as it stands today is that Uncle Sam believes he has a right to know each and every detail about your money, so long as it is parked in a foreign financial institution instead of buried in your back yard. There is something very wrong about the principle that your after-tax earnings are subject to still more scrutiny by the most powerful government the world has ever known, and something insidious about the sight of politicians blaming Americans' investment choices for their own shoddy governance.
Given the bipartisan disaster with public finances, it's no surprise that an already trivial presidential campaign is wallowing in the comparative irrelevance of Mitt Romney's private investment strategies. And anyone who thinks that repetitive attempts to damn a presidential candidate through his European associations is a purely Democratic piece of phony xenophobia ought to do a Google search on "haughty, French looking" sometime.
But sadly, we live in an age when stupid campaign prejudice can too easily be translated into law, with consequences that damage the lives of middle class Americans while leaving the rich unscathed.
Back in January, during a rehearsal of the Democratic anti-Romney line, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said "There is no such thing as an ordinary Swiss bank account." Thanks to populist millionaires like Levin, that clumsy slur is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine and co-author with Nick Gillespie of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America , now out in paperback with a new foreword.