Attempts to reduce citizenship to a simple cost/benefit analysis or to tie it to monetary terms is almost always regarded with disdain, if not downright hostility. Most people would agree that this connection is not something that should be bought or sold or traded (but it can be inherited or earned through service). To be an American or a Frenchman or a Japanese is supposed to be something a bit more than just a set of rights and a list of duties. What that "something" is can be hotly debated but it seems to come down to a kind of emotional attachment plus a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of the nation. It is a status fraught with meaning.
So a suggestion that we think of citizenship as just another membership in a club where each individual does a personal cost/benefit analysis of present and future benefits and then swaps memberships at will according to his/her interests tends to arouse very angry, very emotional, responses. Most people agree that citizenship is not a membership to be traded in for something better for purely financial reasons. Those who are perceived as trying to do just that (Eduardo Saverin and Bernard Arnault) are considered to be the worst sort of traitorous villains.
And yet the nation-states involved (and their citizens) seem entirely comfortable with the idea of offering very interesting incentives to draw rich and talented residents to their shores. Remember that every immigrant is someone else's emigrant and one state's gain is another's loss. To those who argue that citizenship has no price (or should not be priced), one doesn't have to look far to find ways that states themselves put a sticker price on citizenship/residency and invite migrants to meet it for mutual advantage and profit. The U.S. and France are not exceptions to this. Don't believe me? My French spouse didn't so I went and looked and this is what I found:
Carte résident - contribution économique exceptionnelle: For the modest sum of 10 million Euros and/or a commitment to create (or save) 50 jobs, an investor will receive a French residency permit good for 10 years. As a bonus, the immigrant investor is relieved of two requirements: the "Visite medicale" and the "Contrat d'Accueil et d'Intégration." Citizenship in this case is just a short step away since someone who is deemed to have "rendu (ou peut rendre) des services importants à la France" can apply for French citizenship after a mere two years of residency.
Hard to see this as much more than a purely commercial transaction and the French government website is not coy about the deal:
Le critère de délivrance de la carte de séjour pour les investisseurs étrangers en France est explicitement lié à la contribution économique qu'ils apportent au pays. Ce nouveau dispositif vise à faciliter et à encourager le séjour des ressortissants étrangers qui s’engagent à effectuer sur le territoire français un investissement d’au moins 10 millions d’euros et à créer ou sauvegarder au moins 50 emplois en France. Ils reçoivent en contrepartie une carte de séjour d’une durée de 10 ans.EB-5 Immigrant Investor: This has been described as a "Visa for Dollars" or "Swapping boat people for yacht people" program. If you ignore the citizenship-based taxation part of US tax policy this is a steal compared to France. For the very reasonable sum of 1 million U.S. dollars (500,000 in a poverty-stricken area) and the creation of a measly 10 jobs, an investor get an immigrant visa and a conditional Green Card. Once the probation period is over he gets a regular Green Card and a path to U.S. citizenship after 5 years. Other advantages are being able to the family over and the children can work or go to a U.S. school and benefit from in-state tuition rates. Investors must reside in the U.S. but they only have to be physically present on U.S. soil for 180 days out of the year. The only catch is that they have the same reporting and tax obligations as other Green Card holders: they must report and pay taxes on their worldwide income and assets. Again, like the French program, this is a purely commercial arrangement - a genuine quid pro quo.
(The criteria for delivery of a residency permit for foreign investors in France is explicitly linked to the economic contribution that they bring to the country. This new program is meant to facilitate and encourage the residency of foreign citizens who agree to invest 10 million Euros and to create or save at least 50 jobs in France. They receive in exchange a 10 year residency permit.)
So for 10 million euros you can be French (EU) and for 500,000 USD you can be American.
A hell of a deal, don't you think?
A modest suggestion to the citizens of the two nations mentioned above: if you don't want individuals shopping around for the best citizenship "deal" and you wish to vilify those who do, your moral posturing would be much more credible if you weren't the ones putting it up for sale in the first place.