Corporate Greed? There’s a App for That

“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries,” a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work,” Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher, New York Times

[Apple]… paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent. (Apple does not disclose what portion of those payments was in the United States, or what portion is assigned to previous or future years.)

By comparison, Wal-Mart last year paid worldwide cash taxes of $5.9 billion on its booked profits of $24.4 billion, a tax rate of 24 percent, which is about average for non-tech companies.

How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes,” Charles Duhigg and David Kocientewski, New York Times

I might have missed these articles if it weren’t for the New Faculty Majority blog, which pointed me to the “Remaking the University” blog, a site focused on California Education…  I’ve been  thinking about the links among consumerism, technology, and education for some time but this is a slightly different angle that I had not considered in any depth.  That is, there’s a direct link between contemporary consumerism and the economic destruction of higher education.

I think that using technology in the classroom is a good idea but I suspect that the push for technology is also fed by simple consumerism.  In some cases, pedagogy seems to get lost in the ongoing push for the newest sexy consumer electronics. Sherry Turkle (caution, the  video plays automatically) has famously argued, for example, that technology can inhibit the sociability and the self-refection necessary for learning. Call it Facebook alienation.

I have never been seduced by Apple’s closed-system. I was one of those people willing to put up with a computer that broke now and again rather than use a computer whose workings were hidden. Aesthetically, Apple has always seemed like one of those creepy, upper-middle class families I run into now and again, insular and self-satisfied.  Standing in line for the next Apple bauble is to me a symbol of the worst sort of  meaningless U.S. conformity.

Apple’s “progressive” image, particularly its support of higher education, is in fact more assumed than real. Apple is a corporation that, like most other corporations, has taken full advantage of tax loopholes to maximize profits. Ironically, then, as Apple was busily promoting its products as harbingers of  “the next chapter in learning,” it was busily using  the ““Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” to strip mine government budgets for its shareholders.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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