Three Cheers for Tim Cook!
If you believe that America has big problems because our culture no longer recognizes rights, encourages innovation or celebrates success – then you gotta be a little encouraged by Apple’s CEO. If you are looking for some spine amongst the producers of the world to get involved in the battle for our culture, Mr. Cook showed a hint of what we really need. Cook was unapologetic in front of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations about Apple’s use of the tax code to reduce its tax burden as much as possible for shareholders.
Like many successful corporations, Apple keeps some of its earnings overseas to avoid paying taxes in the US. There’s been a drumbeat amongst lawmakers saying that these greedy capitalists should “repatriate” their cash so that it can be taxed here. Today, Mr. Cook stood up to these blowhard hypocrites.
Cook not only detailed the many and varied investments and job creation Apple is responsible for within the U.S. but also pointed to the “extraordinary” amount of corporate income taxes it pays—$6 billion in 2012. Even more importantly, he called for reform and a single digit corporate income tax rate, which would take America down from having the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the world.
Ok, so we’re a long way from Hank Rearden’s trial speech in Atlas Shrugged:
“…I work for nothing but my own profit – which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs; I do not sacrifice my interests to the m nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage – and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner. I am rich and I am proud of every penny I own…”
But this is a start – when we have the CEO of one of the most innovative and valuable companies in the world challenge the assumptions behind confiscatory taxes and the labyrinth IRS code, especially given the recent scandal of that agency blatantly being used as a political tool, it’s a good sign. Now, if only the Cooks of the world would use Ayn Rand’s help in addressing the looters and Senators:
“I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow men than you can ever hope to accomplish – but I will not say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognize the good of others as a justification for their seizure of my property or their destruction of my life.”
We have a long battle ahead of us to educate (mostly the producers) that we don’t need to continue sanctioning such cannibalism as we’ve seen over the past 100 years but we don’t have that much time. Tim Cook’s testimony hopefully opened the door for more courageous acts on the part of leaders everywhere to speak the truth about who they are working for and why.