Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Letter to Steve Jobs about WinAmerica

Mr. Steve Jobs, CEO
Apple, Inc.
1 Inifinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Mr. Jobs,

This will be brief as I know you are far too busy to read much unsolicited mail from the public.

The "WinAmerica" coalition, an association of multinational corporations lobbying for a tax holiday on profits they've earned overseas (over $1 trillion worth), is a most unfortunate association for Apple. I hope you will reconsider the corporation's support for this campaign.

WinAmerica's message is that these corporations must receive a tax holiday on overseas profits so that they may invest domestically and create U.S. jobs. A similar tax holiday in 2004 led mostly to investments in stock and dividend payments, rather than increased employment in the United States. In fact, many of the corporations benefiting from these tax concessions cut jobs. Therefore these promises have a familiar hollow ring about them.

Many of the corporations involved with WinAmerica pay little in corporate taxes to begin with. Apple pays a 25% corporate tax rate, but the low end is below 2%.

Mr. Jobs, our nation needs revenue. Nothing prevents the corporations involved in WinAmerica from repatriating those holdings and paying taxes on them. That would itself be an important investment in the United States.

There is also nothing preventing these corporations, certainly not Apple, from narrowing its Foreign Direct Investment and reducing its subcontracting, spending a bit more money for production in the United States. The subcontractor that produces most of the iPads we enjoy in the U.S. operates under conditions that would shock most of your customers.

Making these changes would cut into profit margins and thus are a difficult sell to your Board, perhaps. But if WinAmerica truly believes in investing in the United States, is it not worth a try?

I am not naive. I suspect WinAmerica's real intentions are to extend an already privileged tax status for multinational corporations, without actually fulfilling the vague promise of job creation. Meanwhile, people in my community are paying the price for that privilege while suffering the economic crisis and its subsequent cuts to human services just as so many people need them.

Yet I believe the person of Steve Jobs is in a position to be a moral leader on this issue, if that is what he wants. It begins with repudiating the WinAmerica campaign. If nothing else, you can certainly achieve that. Will you consider this?

Thank you for your time.


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