It is terrible enough that Apple produces its 21st-century technology in 19th-century sweatshops overseas. Now the New York Times reports that when it comes to profits, Apple only pretends to be outsourcing overseas, saving themselves $40 billion annually, which would otherwise go to education or deficit reduction. The “offshore” funds are funneled through subsidiaries abroad before landing in government securities in the US. Apple’s supply chain starts with low-wage investment havens and spirals through intermediary countries like Ireland, where two-thirds of its pre-tax income is sheltered, though only one percent of its customers live there.
That is modern capitalism for you, mesmerizing gullible consumers with celebrity ads, greasing the Washington machinery with donations, and funding lovable charities, all while gaming the system and widening the equality gap.
Senate committee members became lapdogs during an investigation of Apple this week. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) led off with a full retreat from his original charge that Apple was avoiding taxes. Sen. Claire McCaskell (D-MO) gushed how she “loves Apple” so much that she “harassed [her] husband until he converted to Mac.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) denounced the Senate hearing and demanded an apology to Apple.
When critics like Naomi Klein, Adbusters and global justice protesters correctly denounced the tactics of corporate “branding” in the Nineties, they may have underestimated the infinite power of subsidized celebrity. Critics might have to re-open the pages of Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders, or carefully watch a season of “Mad Men,” to understand the original development of subliminal messaging.
Only vocal student, consumer and labor pressure for an international code of enforceable labor standards can prevent the twin crises of sweatshops abroad and defunded federal programs at home.
According to one study cited by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), 30 of the largest American multinationals, with more than $160 billion in profits, “paid nothing in federal income taxes over a recent three-year period. Zero.” For more information, please contact anti-sweatshop organizations like SweatFree.