December 22, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook offered a blunt and searing critique of the Democratic Party’s core message for 2016 during his recent “60 Minutes” interview.
“Total political crap.”
Cook was responding specifically to allegations that Apple has been engaged in “a sophisticated scheme to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenues held overseas,” but the question posed by Charlie Rose fairly captured the defining anti-corporate and anti-free enterprise direction of today’s Democratic Party.
In a year that has seen a disproportionate amount of coverage of Donald Trump’s outlandish statements, scant attention has been paid to the radical leftward shift of the “modern” Democratic Party. What’s more ridiculous, Trump proposing to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, or an entire political party that wants to build a socialist utopia and make you pay for it?
Evidence for the Democratic Party’s economic extremism is mounting. Earlier this year YouGov found that socialism is as popular as capitalism among millennial Democrats. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary debates have become tedious forums of anti-corporate one-upmanship. Liberal commentators such as E.J. Dionne are applauding this onslaught of progressive pabulum, but America’s innovators and job creators aren’t impressed. In fact, when asked to respond to the substance of the Democrat’s message, CEOs like Cook sound like surrogates for Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.
Consider this exchange between Rose and Cook:
Rose: How do you feel when you go before Congress and they say you’re a tax avoider?
Cook: What I told them and — what I’ll tell you and — and the folks watching tonight is we pay more taxes in this country than anyone.
Rose: Well, they know that. And you should because of how much money you make.
Cook: Well, I don’t deny that. We happily pay it.
Rose: But you also have more money overseas, probably, than any other —
Cook: We do.
Rose: — American company?
Cook: Because as I said before, two-thirds of our business is over there.
Rose: Yeah, but why don’t [you?] bring that home, is the question?
Cook: I’d love to bring it home.
Rose: Why don’t you?
Cook: Because it would cost me 40 percent to bring it home. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do. This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.
This exchange captures America’s choice in 2016. Will our next president look forward and fight to update our laws, or defend the policies of the past? Will we reward politicians who demonize innovators, or will we elect someone who sees his (or her) job as creating an environment in which the next Apple can emerge.
The bottom line is this: Apple works. Government doesn’t. Apple occupies itself with developing its next product. Government occupies itself with developing the next regulation. Ask yourself, would you rather spend an afternoon navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs or your iPad? The V.A. is so complicated not even its own employees know how to use it. My iPhone, on the other, is so simple my two-year-old knows how to use it.
The “60 Minutes” segment includes a tour of Apple’s new corporate headquarters that will be larger than the Pentagon. It’s an apt comparison. While many observers are focusing on Cook’s views on the encryption debate, his ideas about basic economics have greater implications for our national — not just economic — security.
As vital as our military efforts against ISIS may be, our markets and ideas will do more to win the multigenerational struggle against terrorism. Let’s hope voters make a choice Cook may see as “reasonable” and elect a candidate who will treat free market capitalism not as a threat to Washington’s power, but the as the key to America’s success.
This article originally appeared at the web site Opportunity Lives.