Great excitement in the financial world – on Friday 3rd of August, Apple became the world’s first trillion dollar company. A mind-blowing amount of money that is more that the economic output of New Zealand and a host of other countries.
We can’t deny that Apple has developed great products. This article was written on a Macbook. But the company has also avoided paying taxes as much as possible. Apple had $811 million in sales in NZ in 2017, yet managed to whittle its profit down to $29.7 million (ODT 4 Aug). That would mean cost of sales was a whopping 96% of income – or some very creative accounting. For over a decade, Apple reputedly paid very little in taxes anywhere.
Apple has outsourced most of its manufacturing to countries and companies with low wages and poor working conditions to maximize its profits and the value of its shares.
Apple has often used manufacturing processes that make it difficult to repair its products.
Apple earns its money by continuously bringing out new models with new features, without necessarily providing a means to add these features to existing products, meaning people throw out perfectly functional items to buy new ones with the latest features. This creates a mountain of e-waste, which is difficult to recycle, wastes energy and finite resources such as precious metals, and contributes to the world’s growing emissions problem.
Apple has done all the right things to grow its company and maximize its profit, but is the antithesis of what people and planet need to prevent global warming and ensure that everyone, everywhere, has a decent income and living conditions. To achieve this we urgently need to move to a post-growth economy, where people and the environment are put first. And companies acknowledge that ever-increasing profit is not a sustainable option or a desirable goal.
So congratulations Apple, on being the world’s first trillion dollar company. You are the leader in an economic system that has made an extraordinary contribution to social and economic inequality, hastening global warming and destroying the planet. Please excuse us if we don’t crack open the champagne.