I’m an unapologetic Apple enthusiast.
Their products, their attention to design detail, their focus on the ideal vs. iteration, and their unwillingness to compromise on what basically reduces to a religious drive for perfection—I cherish them for all these reasons.
But there are a couple of dark marks.
- They produce many of their products in China
- They keep a massive amount of their cash offshore, to avoid taxes
It’s acceptable that thousands of other big-name companies do these things, but not Apple. I don’t give them that pass that everyone else gets.
Why the unbalanced treatment?
Because they’re trying to be (and already are) the standard for good corporate behavior. They’re building solar plants, trying to move equality forward, donating massively to great causes, and even doing some limited production in the U.S.
But companies keeping their money overseas is, in my view, deeply unpatriotic. And to a much lesser degree, so is producing their products in China.
I know the reasons for manufacturing in China. It’s virtually impossible to do it here right now.
But damn. It’s Apple. And they’re sitting on nearly a trillion dollars in cash. Try!
Changing the car industry is inspiring. It truly is. But what I’d appreciate much more is Tim Cook coming out and saying something like this:
Apple leads the way in being a good corporate citizen, and today we’re fixing two areas that we’ve been unhappy with until now. First, we’re building in 2016 a multi-billion dollar production facility in Detroit, Michigan to put the United States back on the manufacturing map. By 2018 we hope to be producing 1/3 of all iPhones and Macs in America, and we intend to have all production taking place in America within a few years after that.
The second thing I want to talk about is taxes. Apple, like thousands of other smart businesses, has made smart choices in the past with regard to where it keeps its capital. This is good business sense, as keeping money overseas can reduce the tax burden significantly. Well, we’re putting an end to that. As of 2016 we will be taking actions to move all money within U.S. borders, which will result in a massive influx of cash to the U.S. government.
Many will be unhappy with both of these moves, as they will mean less profit for Apple in the short term. We understand that, but we feel unable to sidestep this responsibility any longer. Additionally, it’s not a purely selfless act. We believe in America. We believe that we can build superior products here, and for less cost over time. It won’t happen in one year or three, but Apple is no longer just focused on making the best products in the world. We now want to do that in the most responsible way possible—while lifting America in the process—and we challenge our fellow American companies to follow our lead.
That’s the Apple I want to love, and I think they could do it.