Apple, Inc. has been getting a lot of press lately. Not because of a new phone or iPad but because of its business practices. Like many U.S. companies, Apple outsources much of its work overseas, mostly in China. While that is hot really news, what caught a lot of people’s attention was the amount of cash Apple has overseas.
It has been reported that Apple has about $64 billion dollars (yes, BILLION) overseas. This is money that is just sitting there. So far it has not been reinvested into any company projects. Some have alleged that Apple is keeping that money overseas to avoid paying taxes on it here in the U.S.
When I want to Business School (at the mighty Cal State San Bernardino, if you must know) I learned that corporations have only one purpose and that is to make money for share holders. They are not in the business of creating jobs or saving the environment. They are created to make money. And there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone wants to make money.
But Apple is supposed to be different. It wasn’t’ supposed to be like every other company. Apple is supposed to be creative and caring. Mac Heads are loyal and want to own every new version of the iPhone and iPad. They feel like one big family.
There have been estimates that Apple has as many as 500,000 workers in China building its products in what some people describe a “sweat shops” where many workers earn less than $17 a day. Consumers have come to expect their clothing and other electronics to be made overseas but Apple was supposed to be different. They were not supposed to be just another heartless corporation whose only concern is the bottom line. Apple was supposed to be a company of artists producing products for other creative types. They were the Pirates of Silicon Valley. Now they have seemingly become a bunch of Windsor knot wearing corporatists looking to squeeze every last nickel of profit from each product.
In a recent New York Times story a current Apple executive stated, “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best products possible.”
Of course, Apple has the right and the obligation to do what’s best for the company and the shareholders but it would be nice if they could take some of the billions of dollars they have overseas and use it to create jobs here in America. It has been estimated that manufacturing iPhones in America would add approximately $65 to the cost of production. Since Apple makes “hundreds” of dollars profit per phone it seems like a small price to pay. And the amount of free PR they would get would be well worth it. It could be done; all it would take is the will to get it done.
Apple once has an ad campaign that urged us to “Think Different” and now it is time for them to do the same. Instead of following all the other corporations Apple should once again lead the way and start investing in the rebirth of American manufacturing.