18A030 Rampaging Looters by Jim Davies, 7/24/2018    


The on-line news site Russia Today sometimes provides a welcome relief from the monotonously Statist bias of the US media, offering a view from Moscow of what's going on. It favored Trump in the 2016 election, and gives a far better balanced view of the Syrian mess than one is likely to read in the US. One might even say it's "conservative".

Nonetheless, it apparently employs an army of archist writers who have by no means freed themselves from the biased language common throughout the media. On July 1st I paid the site a visit and was shocked to see a report from Paris:

Dozens of activists turned a Paris-based Apple Store into an emergency ward complete with x-rays, surgeons, bloody patients and even a waiting room to denounce tax evasion

The elaborate demonstration, staged by the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizen Action (ATTAC), on Saturday was in protest of Apple’s tax evasion practices and their impact on social services like the public health institutions in France.

Notice the key words: the invaders of Apple's property were called "activists." That's a word always used in the media to describe propagandists for the Left. If someone is politically active on the Right, or as a Libertarian, some other word is used, be he ever so hardworking and dedicated.

Notice too the unqualified characterization of careful minimization of tax losses as "evasion" - a bad word, in the Statist lexicon, used to describe a crime, something against the law. ("Avoidance" is legal, "evasion" lands one in a government cage.)

And notice how, so as to draw public sympathy for their trespass, they jerked the tears and called for sad violin music by pointing out that every Euro of tax that Apple avoids (oops! evades) has an "impact on social services and... health." How could Apple possibly be so stingy and selfish?

The play-acted protest is another expression of a sentiment I saw some years ago in a newspaper in Sweden. At the time there was talk of a tax reduction, by the current "Moderate" government; that party abandoned the name "Conservative" a while back, painting themselves rather as moderate socialists. That's how deeply the socialist myth has penetrated there. The writer of a letter to the newspaper begged earnestly for readers to oppose the tax cut! Almost incredible. Here was someone in the most heavily taxed country in the world, pleading for the rate not to be reduced!

I've heard of the Stockholm Syndrome, but that was ridiculous. Hit me harder, Big Brother.

So, back to Paris: with brilliant inventive and management skills, the Apple company has transformed the whole scene of personal information access, and communication, across the world in a revolution so huge and rapid that I for one have been unable to keep up. It's not the only player, but it kept itself independent of both IBM and Microsoft, plowing its own furrow with spectacular success. And it has taken its wares not just to the US market, but also across the world. Including Europe.

Every dollar of profit it makes benefits the shareholders and employees, which is exactly how it ought to be; those individuals risked the capital and did the work. Millions of customers also benefit as a result of those investments and labor.

Yet an uninvited third party - government - reaches out its hand and demands a share. Different countries demand different levels of loot, so it's a complicated task to so structure a company as to lose as little as possible, in total, to the looters. A well-used and effective arrangement is to place a management office in one low-tax country, responsible for operations in several (or one) high-tax countries, and charge the latter subsidiaries fees for the management services - without which, of course, they would be unable to operate. The net effect is to move profits from the high- to the low-tax area, and hence minimize the total loss for the whole firm. I don't know the specifics for Apple in Europe (and the RT article didn't mention them) but that's roughly what Apple is doing. I heard Ireland (low-tax) was favored for their European headquarters.

Their PR department however makes no kind of protest about the massive government looting of its well-deserved profits. The first paragraph of this press release proclaims:

Apple believes every company has a responsibility to pay its taxes, and as the largest taxpayer in the world, Apple pays every dollar it owes in every country around the world. We’re proud of the economic contributions we make to the countries and communities where we do business.

"Responsibility"? - to whom, and why? Responsibility arises from contracts, and contracts are valid only if both parties act without coercion. Clearly, there is coercion in all tax. Apple may have agreed to pay taxes to the French government in order for its directors to remain outside a French prison, but that's not a freely-drawn contract with associated responsibilities. So this press release gives away the farm in the first sentence. To call these payments "contributions" is a misuse of language; they would be contributing only if unconstrained.

After government has ended in the US, it may well be that some US firms may wish to continue trading in other countries where government persists awhile. If so, it will make sense to manage all operations from the US, charging those national subsidiaries a fee amounting to all their profits. Then the US parent will distribute them free of all US tax, there being none, while in France and elsewhere the subsidiaries pay none because no local profits remain.

But in any case, that odd arrangement will not need to last long. Once America has shown it can do far better without government, there will be a stampede by residents of other countries to join us; at long last, Liberty will Enlighten the World.

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