Friday, January 17, 2020

Apple And Amazon Both Exceed In Exploiting America

Two of America's largest companies, Apple and Amazon share an ugly truth. It is rooted in exploitation and how they excel in exploiting America. Due to their strong ties to America's government, both these companies have been allowed to create a persona or facade that far outshines reality. Not only do they exploit workers but each in its own way, mask the huge amount of income they pluck from our government on all levels while avoiding paying taxes. The situation has become so obvious to many people that while moderating the Golden Globes awards, comedian Ricky Gervais in a joking manner slammed actors for calling themselves “woke” while taking money from Apple, Amazon, and Disney, who use slave labor.

While I concede both these companies have many admirers it is important to look from where much of their success flows. Years ago I penned an article titled, "The Poison Apple" where I questioned how Apple remains the darling of so many Americans while stories continue to surface on how it abuses its workers? This coupled with the widespread criticism of its environmental practices and tax avoidance schemes would have caused major damage to the corporate image of most companies. It might even result in large protests outside their offices and massive boycotts of their products. Yet, Apple is a company that Fortune magazine has called the most admired company in the United States and in the world. This is a company that the Economist called a "phenomena" and questioned if "it was a bubble" years before its stock price soared.

A More Truthful Logo
Some time ago the Paradise Papers highlighted the murky dealings by Apple that allowed it to pay a mere 3.7% in corporate taxes in 2017. This is a fraction of the worldwide average and well below what most people would imagine It detailed how Apple's tax-avoidance strategies, which are infamous, allowed it to find different avenues at securing its worldwide profits, which accounted for roughly 55% of its total income in 2017. In August of 2016, Apple was ordered by the European Commission to pay €13 billion in taxes, which Tim Cook called 'total political crap' at the time. None of this has altered how Apple has moved forward.  

It is as if people are totally blind to the less tasty side of Apple that appeared in a 2006 report focusing on the deplorable working conditions at factories in China where the contract manufacturers Foxconn and Inventec produced the iPod. The article stated that one complex of factories that assembles the iPod and other items had over 200,000 workers, that lived and worked in the factory. Employees regularly worked more than 60 hours per week making around $100 per month and were required to pay for rent and food from the company.  This generally amounted to a little over half of the workers' earnings. While things may have improved a bit over the years it is difficult to think the lives of these workers has become anything to brag about. 

Four months ago China Labor Watch issued a lengthy report accusing Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Co Ltd of breaching numerous Chinese labor laws. Yet, as big an issue as the history of worker exploitation of workers in China is the fact that since Apple manufactures in China it creates few jobs in American. Is the typical Apple user so self-centered that they just don't care, or do they lust for the product so much that they bury and ignore their social conscience?  These consumers are even willing to pay higher prices to lock themselves into a closed system tightly controlled by Apple.

Bezos Quietly Shapes Public Opinion
For a moment let us put aside Apple and explore some of Amazon's corporate tactics as well as some of the recent stories and the ever-growing political power of the very influential Washington Post which is owned by Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, which at times has claimed the title of the worlds richest man. Among the goals of this online retail mogul is replacing workers with robots which his company will both build and market.

 Bezos is also the head of Blue Origin, a company with big plans to pioneer the frontier of space. Last but far from least as Amazon's CEO Bezos ties this all together with Amazon Web Service or AWS. This is a cloud service that also collects data and has strong ties to the government. This means they know when you are sleeping, they know when you're awake, they know when you are bad or good. This all constitutes a great deal of power in the hands of one man.

Because of Amazon's strong ties with the government and what is often referred to as the "deep state," we should be concerned about whether The Washington Post is making a concerted effort to shape public opinion in a way that is at odds with our current President. Lurking in the back of my mind is that it was the Washington Post and not a newspaper located in Alabama that broke the Roy Moore story which has turned many women against the Republican party. This brings up the question of just how much the Roy Moore story also has fed into the "me too" movement that had huge ramifications across society. Are stories like this a coincidence or is a strong hidden agenda at play?

All this could be one of the reasons President Trump has voiced concern about Amazon as a force in America.
I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

The bottom-line is that Apple and Amazon, both receive and feed at the teat of our government and receive a lot of American tax dollars. We should never forget that in America the government and schools use taxpayer money to buy countless numbers of Apple products produced in China adding to Apple's credibility and helping to carry tax-evading Apple to the next level. While this is happening the money-losing United States Postal Service bends over backward to deliver Amazon products while the American government pays out billions to AWS for its services in collecting and storing data on American citizens.

Time and time again it has been pointed out that Amazon is one of the world’s most valuable companies, valued at nearly $800 billion. Even after the e-commerce giant pulled in $232.9 billion in global revenue in 2018, it paid $0 in federal taxes. In fact, Amazon was said to be getting a federal tax refund of $129 million this year, this is in spite of Amazon nearly doubling its taxable income in 2018 to $11.2 billion, from $5.6 billion a year earlier. The matter of Amazon's check to the IRS reading exactly $0.00 was also confirmed in a report published by Fortune which stated, the e-tail/retail/tech/entertainment/everything giant would not be paying a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row.

It should be noted that President Trump is not the only politician that has taken aim at Amazon. current Presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has also criticized Amazon for not paying higher federal taxes and is not a fan of the company. Particularly troubling is money from our government flowing into Amazon adds to its war chest and feeds its ability to continue exploiting the brick and mortar stores that line the streets of our communities. These are the real businesses that provide jobs to millions of Americans. All in all, it is a bit ironic that so many people are infatuated with these two companies that seem hell-bent on taking far more from us than they are willing to return. To us not so enamored with these two companies the fact is, we just don't get it.

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