The other day I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across something that I thought was really intriguing. The Tweet said that electronic goliath Apple now has more money than the United States Treasury. This is laughable, but true. Apple has $76 billion or so in cash, while the treasury has only $74 billion. Technically the treasury has no actual money, they only have $74 billion left to spend, but as soon as Congress raises the debt limit that $74 billion will get a lot bigger.
Regardless, borrowing mind blowing amounts of money to finance a government (or a company) is a terrible financial practice; so I got to thinking…if Apple is in such a good place financially, what would our nation look like if the United States government was run like Apple?
For starters our nation would obviously be hugely profitable, but profits do not tell the whole story. To meet the types of profit margins Apple is able to produce our nation would be fundamentally transformed. The bottom line would define the purpose of the government, people become secondary to finances. 90% of all our government jobs would be outsourced to save money on cheaper labor. The IRS, EPA, CMS, Department of Education, and many more federal agencies would be given to the lowest bidder. If we can find a conglomerate company that could specialize in each of these departments, that would be even better. Apple, for instance, uses Foxconn to manufacture their products; these facilities are shared with other electronic products such as HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba, and others. So if there were a company that already handles the taxes for France, South Africa, and Malaysia they could also implement our revenue management with little overhead, thereby cutting costs and saving money.
If we ran like Apple we would tax at a rate far larger than other similarly developed nations. You may have already asked the question; if Apple uses the same manufacturer as other tech giants, why are their products so much more expensive? The answer is simple: people think their products are worth it. A recent study at Foxconn showed that an average worker worked over 60 hours each week and took home around $600 per month. For those of you doing the math at home, that means one new IPad or IPhone pays an entire month’s salary for a Foxconn worker…still wondering how they can have such high profit margins? If other Foxconn manufactured products can sell for one third that price and still make a profit, then immediately Apple has a 200% profit margin over their competitors.
So, to be like Apple, our nation would tax nearly three times that of our peers; that certainly helps create a healthy profit. We could most likely expect a minimum tax rate of 50%, and some brackets as high as 90%. There would be no citizenship, anyone who wishes to be part of the United States need only pay the hefty taxes and they will be a citizen with all the benefits of becoming such. If at any time a citizen is fed up with the ridiculously high taxes, they can stop paying and lose citizenship, and can go to another nation.
What would we get for our totalitarian taxes? Not much more than other nations that tax far less than we would, and not as much as nations that tax at a rate similar to ours. With every election (assuming there would be elections) or every tax payment each year we would ask when we were going to receive some of the benefits or capabilities other nations have. If our government were to try to implement anything new we could expect a lot of hiccups in the process requiring many updates and upgrades. Even something as simple as mapping our nation would cause fits for us and our nation’s outsourced employees.
We would allegedly steal some of our best features from other nations, then sue those other nations for having government structure that included a head of state, vice head of state, and separate legislative body. If this sounds ridiculous to you, you are not alone. Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement; what high tech strictly patented technology did Samsung “steal” from Apple? Among other nonsense, they had the gumption to make a rectangle device with rounded edges! Oh, the audacity of those buffoons! The judge in the case thought this was as stupid as you probably think it is, and removed the injunction on Samsung. This means that because the jury found Samsung guilty (which they technically were, because they do have a rectangle phone with rounded edges) they still have to pay the penalty to Apple, but they will still be allowed to sell their phones.
Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed claiming that Apple stole actual development technology, technology Apple has used to advertise their products no less, such as the retina display and the push to talk system Apple calls Siri. If America were run like Apple, we could expect the same shenanigans from our government. Maybe Massachusetts would sue the federal government for stealing parts of the Romneycare health plan. Maybe the Federal Government would sue Arizona for modeling their immigration law after the federal immigration law…oh, wait, they already did that!
If America were run like Apple it is doubtful there would be any elections. Following the corporate model, the most successful Americans would be our CEO (rather than having a president), COO (rather than vice president), and board of directors (rather than cabinet/Congress). This means the likes of Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett would be running the show. These profit-first corporate tycoons would obviously care more for the national “company” than the people. As long as they can make our product appealing (even if we do drastically overcharge for it) so we can get people to become citizens, they are doing their job.
The United States of America is the greatest nation in the world. We have our problems, but it continues to befuddle me that people can run around talking about how bad our nation is at the same time they talk about how good Apple is. In the United States everyone has an equal opportunity, everyone can gain as much as they are able to achieve, our only limitations are our own imaginations and abilities. We fight for the freedom of others, and stand up for the daughter who is raped in the Middle East and killed by her family for it. We stand up for the girl who is beaten for learning to read. We stand up for those imprisoned for speaking their mind and wanting freedom; but somehow that makes us the bad guy? All the while, many of these same people that slander the nation for these things carry a religious commitment to Apple, a company that outsources as many jobs as possible, charges far more for their products than their competitors, is slow fixing errors they have with their systems, places their workers in harsh and dangerous conditions, and does not have the capabilities that many less expensive products have. But America is the one in the wrong here? If we ran our nation like Apple we would be far worse off than we are now.
Apple can have more money than the U.S. Treasury; that is fine with me. But I am proud to be an American, and I am happy to know that our nation is not run like Apple, or any corporation for that matter. We are the beacon of freedom to the world, and we stand up for that freedom for others, even when it may not be our fight. Of course we have our problems, and we need some fine tuning, but not any more than any other nation, or any Apple product for that matter.
27 November, 2012