One of the world’s great companies has just provided us evidence of the extent to which political maneuvering can influence an American company. The last time Apple was occupying the front page of any news vehicle, it was defending itself against Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
With wide-grinning sidekick John McCain at his side, Levin led a liberal charge against Apple, accusing the largest taxpayer in the Nation of avoiding taxes on its $44 billion in earnings from overseas businesses. Levin’s words were specifically accusatory of Apple, “the real issue is the billions in taxes it has not paid.” Apple has not broken any laws and is conducting itself as everyone and every company does – it maximizes profitability and minimizes taxes.
Whenever you appear on the national stage, peered at from above by a long-sitting Senator, looking at you down his nose, over the rim of his reading glasses, it matters little what is being asked, you just look like you have done something wrong. You must be guilty. Why else would you be dragged to a public interrogation on such a distinguished stage?
Tim Cook testified, “We not only comply with the laws, but we comply with the spirit of the laws. We don’t depend on tax gimmicks. We don’t move intellectual property offshore and use it to sell our products back to the United States to avoid taxes. We don’t stash money on some Caribbean island. We don’t move our money from our foreign subsidiaries to fund our U.S. business in order to skirt the repatriation tax.”
Doesn’t matter Tim, you lost, and in reality, you were just getting squeezed. The grandstanding was pathetically transparent, but the MSM was playing right along with the script and the refrain across all news channels convinced the widely dispersed flock. The MSM also could not help itself and it ground into our percepts the recently published suspicions on the working conditions inside the Chinese manufacturing facilities spitting out iPhones and iPads by the millions.
In the hateful climate of Chicago-brand strong-arming, newly perfected by the present Administration, and being perpetrated on corporate America, how does one stop the public humiliation? How does one stem the public reaction against your brand for being so unpatriotic? How does one react to very public extortion?
Claiming that you’re not guilty of wrongdoing and evidencing that you are a diligent citizen in good standing paying all taxes owed, has little affect on the advancing assault on your credibility. The Washington establishment and the Federal bureaucracy, emboldened by an MSM-fortified, arrogant, and vindictive Administration, have launched a never before encountered enemy, and an impossible foe against which to prosecute a war.
Tim Cook has spent his life as a corporate manager. A loyal worker, a doer, a workaholic. He built Apple’s unsurpassed manufacturing ‘system’ under the demanding guidance of Steve Jobs. Cook is a foreigner to Washington politics. On the other hand, when shareholders pressure you to perform your fiduciary duty in exchange for making you a centimillionaire, you do what you believe you have to do. You succumb and you ingratiate yourself with the overwhelming, and very political powers threatening your future well-being.
For Tim Cook, that ingratiation will take on numerous manifestations, and currently includes the hiring of Obama’s recent head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Lisa Jackson. Lisa who? Well, she’s become very influential around the beltway. And yes, that’s the same Lisa Jackson embroiled in the multi-horned scandal now boiling at the EPA. Similar story to the IRS abuse of power – just different people and different part of the monstrous Federal bureaucracy acting very politically.
Who will this Lisa be reporting to at Apple? Why, she’ll be reporting to Tim. If Tim delivers enough guilt money to the right causes important to Lisa’s former bosses, she’ll open doors along Penitent Boulevard and she will guide Tim through the appropriate hallways which will eventually lead him and Apple to salvation. Tim will see the light. He will understand the full meaning of shakedown.
Reviewing Tim Cook’s rationalizations for the hire, and his explanations for the ‘new job,’ is very simply, . . . embarrassing. He’s skating very obviously and uttering hollow non-sense, but he has a job to keep and he has to ensure that the company he manages walks in goose-step with demands and expectations of a politicized bureaucracy and a Washington machine bending to a regal Presidency.
Unfortunately, Apple’s new hire may have difficulty managing the company’s advance along the road to redemption as her past actions, while head of the EPA under this Administration, place her in the eye of a widening scandal. This hiring may prove to be Tim Cook’s version of Jumping The Shark.
A constituent of the vast baby boomer generation with a career which has been fortunate to know the ponderous corporate worlds, as well as the intimately pressurized, and invigorating entrepreneurial domains of high tech and venture capital, I have harvested my share of mistakes meandering through corridors of enterprise from Silicon Valley, to London and endless, colourful, sometimes praetorian points in between. The voyage has provided an abundance of fodder for a pen yielding to an inquisitive keyboard, a foraging mind, and a passionate spirit.
Whether political or business or social or economic or personal, is it not all political? It is a privilege to write, and an even greater privilege to be read by anyone, and sometimes with the wind at my back the writing may occasionally be legible. I do not write to invite scorn, nor to invite respect, but if I get really lucky the writing can stimulate thinking. I also write for the very selfish purpose of animating my own processes, and engaging the best of what life offers. Above all, whether biting fire or swatting shadows, I am grateful to be gifted the freedom to write and publish whatever flows down to the keyboard. To all those who enabled this freedom, and to all those standing guard to preserve it, I am indebted.