Apple’s biggest sin: Popularity

Why was CEO Tim Cook standing trial for "crimes" all his peers have committed? Because everyone loves their iPhones

Topics: Apple, Tim Cook, Taxes, Ireland, Irish sandwich, Double Dutch, carl levin, tax avoidance, corporate taxation, ,

Apple's biggest sin: PopularityApple CEO Tim Cook testifies on Capitol Hill, May 21, 2013. (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

It’s causing me heartburn to admit this out loud, but when I saw the first tweet reporting Rand Paul’s declaration that Congress was bullying Apple and forcing it to sit through a “show trial” — as if CEO Tim Cook was a member of the Bolshevik old guard about to be purged by Joseph Stalin on bogus conspiracy charges — I found myself inclined to agree with the Kentucky senator.

I don’t condone Apple’s tax-avoidance schemes, but the company is hardly alone in taking advantage of loopholes in U.S and Irish tax law. The Wikipedia page that details the two key strategies employed by Apple, the Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich, lists 12 other major U.S. corporations that are pulling the same flim-flam. Among them are Apple’s tech sector colleagues — Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Facebook and Adobe Systems — along with General Electric, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Starbucks.

All these companies are equally guilty of maximizing their profits by taking advantage of badly written tax laws. Several news reports have suggested that Apple was one of the “pioneers” in executing this strategy, so maybe this is a case of “everyone’s equal, but some companies are more equal than others.” But even if so, Paul is still absolutely right: The first place Congress should be looking is in the mirror. If we want our corporations to pay more taxes, we need to change the laws. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thought he was being funny when he said that Apple’s tax strategy had given new meaning to the slogan “Think Different,” but what he really should have said was that it was time for Congress to think different.

Of course, Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of Senate homeland security and governmental affairs subcommittee, knows this. A former lawyer who knows how to cross-examine a hostile witness, he’s always struck me as one of the sharper intellects in the Senate. He chose to make Apple the center of a circus for obvious strategic reasons. The best way to get bang for your publicity buck is with star power. Who even knows who the CEO of Johnson & Johnson is? (Alex Gorky.) For better or worse, people care about Apple. Every web journalist knows this: Stick “Apple” in the headline, and people will click.

So no wonder Rand Paul is mad. Because Rand Paul’s preferred outcome is that corporations pay no taxes at all. But judging by how much press Tim Cook’s appearance in Washington is generating, and how many angry tweets about corporate tax avoidance are zipping through the ether, Senator Levin hit the bullseye with his show trial. Tim Cook may have laughed his way through the entire hearing, but I don’t think most Americans think the current corporate taxation status quo is all that funny. Maybe we need a good purge.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>