Social Question

josie's avatar

Isn't time to punish Apple for their excessive profits?

Asked by josie (22932 points ) July 20th, 2011

Apple made a second quarter profit of $7, 300,000,000. That is 100% over what they made one year ago.

Exxon Mobil made $10,700,000,000 in the first quarter, up only 70% over last year.

The government always paints Big Oil’s profits as unreasonable and ripe for taxation. They always have hearings and investigate the oil companies for some sort of wrong doing. They are the governments favorite bogeyman.
Problem is we really need oil.

Apple on the hand only makes cool little toys. You might be able to drive to work without your iPod. But their profits are starting to look mighty obscene, wouldn’t you agree? Is it time for a government hearing? Is it time for a windfall profit tax on Apple? Shouldn’t they be the governments second favorite bogeyman?

Isn’t time to knock down Apple down a notch or two?

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23 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

I think our beef with the oil companies is that they’re making their billions by destroying the planet…

tom_g's avatar

Not sure I have a good answer. I would like to add, however, that we’re talking about one heavily subsidized industry (that isn’t Apple). Could this play into your puzzle?

Also, what @nikipedia said. Plus the fact that the economy is supposedly struggling with such high gasoline costs despite the record profits from the oil companies.

wundayatta's avatar

I think we should raise taxes on all people named Joisie.

nikipedia's avatar

And you know what, if we wanted to tax the fuck out of Apple, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with that.

ratboy's avatar

In what sense is Apple’s obscene profit a “windfall?”

JLeslie's avatar

Not punish, but I certainly hate the excessive greed just like I hate when other companies are so greedy. I don’t care the industry. Why not make half that profit and allow their products to be available to a larger population at lower prices? Or, pay people at the lower levels of the organization better? Or, both?

Qingu's avatar

@josie, did Apple preside over any major environmental disasters caused by their production recently?

Does Apple’s production create huge negative externalities?

Apple’s profits are obscene, but it doesn’t appear that they come at the expense of the environment, consumer health, or fair competition. Though their itunes ecosystem comes awful close to violating that last one.

YoBob's avatar

Got a problem with companies headquartered in a country based on free enterprise making a profit? I certainly don’t.

What I do have a problem with is the outsourcing of the human resources that make that profit possible. It is not obscene to make a $7,000,000,000+ profit. However, it is obscene to use what amounts to sweat shop labor in places like China to fill jobs that could be done by Americans. Yes, paying an American worker a livable wage would cut into that $7,000,000,000+ profit. OTOH, unless Americans have jobs, thay aren’t going to be able to afford the next cool gadget that comes along.

roundsquare's avatar

I’m sorry… I don’t understand. We’re punishing a company for making profits? If they’ve been dishonest, punish them. If they’ve screwed over people, punish them. If they’ve exploited the poor, punish them. If they’ve harmed the earth, punish them. There’s any number of reasons to punish a company, many of which may well apply to apple. But to punish them for making profits sends the wrong single imho. If they can kick ass responsibly, let them.

That being said, as they get more powerful, I do think we should keep a closer eye on them.

CunningLinguist's avatar

If the tax rates on corporations and the top 2% of earners are returned to what they were under our last economic boom—which is all the Democrats are asking for—Apple would be taxed more heavily along with all the oil companies. They aren’t treated differently for tax purposes. What people find outrageous is when an industry cries poverty or is involved in some sort of financial scandal and then posts record profits without anyone asking if we should stop subsidizing them or try to fine them for their crimes.

I have no problem with companies or people making extremely large sums of money. I do have a problem with thinking of taxation as punishment. All that paper money is meaningless without a government to back it. People have a huge sense of entitlement without ever taking a moment to recognize that half the things they feel entitled to wouldn’t even be possible without a civil society regulated by a system of laws.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@josie Why should we punish someone or something for being successful? We all get to choose what we buy.

tom_g's avatar

Have we cleared up yet that to “punish” oil companies would mean reducing (or ending) tax subsidies?

quiddidyquestions's avatar

Apple isn’t making products that are almost essential in our society while making tons of money, making the cost of the product a financial burden to many people, receiving special considerations in the government, and contributing to the rapidly increasing destruction of our planet.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m pretty sure that @josie does not think they should be punished. Maybe my guess is wrong. He is asking the question of others.

zenvelo's avatar

Big Oil’s profits are windfall’s because the cost of production are unrelated to the amount they charge based on the futures market price of oil and the prices set by OPEC, despite the oil itself not coming from those markets..

Alaskan oil delivered to West Coast ports is sold at OPEC and NYMEX prices. But the processing cost of that oil does not fluctuate in the same volatile manner. So when speculators panic and the price of a barrel goes over $100, the oil companies get to sell Alaskan oil or West Texas Oil or Gulf of Mexico oil at world prices, even though the cost of production is the same. That is where the windfall comes in.

bob_'s avatar

It’d be nice if they stopped using quasi-slave labor in Asia.

WestRiverrat's avatar

They should apply the same standards to Apple that they used when they tried to bust up Microsoft a few years ago.

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, what @bob_ says. They should at minimum employ Mexicans. ~

Seriously, if they want to employ people outside of the US I am fine with it, although I prefer Americans get the job for obvious selfish reasons, but pay the people in these other countries a decent wage is all. They still probably get paid much less than an American, even at a great wage for their country. If we as American companies did this, it might force companies in the other countries to compete and pay decent wages. We could change the world, develop a middle class in the devloping world, and that creates more buyers for our products. Could be a win win.

CunningLinguist's avatar

@WestRiverrat Applying the same standards to a company that has neither the market share nor the flagship browser that Microsoft had at the time of the antitrust suit against it would mean never going to court in the first place.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I dont know if we should punish them, but I think we should examine why we pass labor and environmental laws in the US, only to push industries to places where these laws dont exist. If we are going call Apple an American company, shouldnt they have to follow American laws and values no matter where they operate?

Is there a way to find out how much Apple pays its workers in China in USD?
Im curious to see their profit if they paid American workers.
America never abolished slavery, it outsourced it.

rooeytoo's avatar

I thought most Apple manufacturing was done in Singapore? That is a pretty progressive place, I don’t think sweat shops are prevalent there.

I think the thing to do is to buy Apple stock and get my share of the fruits of the smarts guy who figure out how to make all that profit on a nonessential product!

prioritymail's avatar

Apple and oil companies make things that people need and want and are willing to pay for. You can’t blame them for making money providing a service people need and want. Why should someone be punished for this?

Our government could choose to regulate them and hold them accountable for the waste burden they indirectly cause society to shoulder and other operational impacts. And you can always choose not to support them. If you don’t like Apple, don’t buy their stuff. If you don’t like oil, don’t drive your car or turn the TV on, or read at night, or take hot showers, or cook indoors, or use plastics.

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