In country after country around the world, large international corporations are being hammered with criticism by politicians who cry foul when companies like Apple simply follow the law. Where’s the real problem in all this? I have a couple of theories.
The Voters? Or, The Voted?
The thing to understand about business is that a company is in business to make money. First and foremost, that’s the prime directive.
Even couched in ‘shareholder value‘ the intent of a business is to make money, either for owners, shareholders, or executives and eventually employees.
Apple makes about as much money each year as a company can (only Exxon Mobile made more profit last year, on much larger revenue) and CEO Tim Cook says the company pays all the taxes it owes.
What’s wrong with that? I pay all the taxes I owe, too. All of them. Not a penny more. And, because of the fear of being hauled off to debtor’s prison, not a penny less.
Apple does the same thing, so why is the company being raked across the proverbial coals for merely following the laws?
Convenience. Politicians and pundits and critics need someone to rail against, and who better to goad in public than a rich, faceless corporation?
There are three more problems with this issue, not the least of which is that politicians are the ones who write the tax codes that rich corporations try to follow. So, who really is to blame when corporations follow the laws?
Not so fast. Corporations are often so rich and powerful that they can influence politicians in ways that we average taxpayers cannot. Therefore, they can pressure politicians to create laws more favorable to their profits than to our personal income.
Then, corporations are to blame, right?
Not so fast. Both corporations and people work to elect politicians, the very same ones that bow to corporate influence and pressure to create tax laws to benefit those who can give more to fund their political campaigns in a strange dance of perpetual voting influence and motion.
Corporations, and the rich, are simply better equipped to peddle influence upon elected officials, and in a way not available to the average taxpayer.
If Apple cannot be blamed for not paying enough in taxes and for following the law, and corporations are people, and people elect politicians, who is really to blame for the problem of tax inequality? The voted? Or, the voters?