By Thomas Purcell
Nothing kick starts an economy like manufacturing according to the Obama administration. During most of last year, Obama’s whistle stop tour across the country visited numerous manufacturing facilities in an effort to show how the stimulus has increased sales, American GDP and the vibrancy of the American manufacturing industry.
Some of the manufacturing companies that Obama visited included Ener1, which is a company that makes electric car batteries for the new wave of George Jetson cars. Another company was Solar Trust that made solar panels for utility companies. A third was the venerable Master Lock Company, to tout the advent of more jobs from his stimulus.
Those ‘green’ manufacturing jobs as we all know by now are gone- the companies went bankrupt. And the Master Lock company? In order to bring jobs back to their plant in Milwaukee that Obama visited, they had to lay off workers in Iowa and Nebraska to pay for it. It was just a bunch of the usual numbers shuffling by the administration—and aided by Master Lock.
But no visits to Apple, or even mention of it and no stimulus money ever went there. You would think since the now deceased Steve Jobs was a Team Obama supporter (although privately critical); Apple would have gotten a huge boom of publicity and money to make their success happen.
No. Apple’s sales are through the roof because they make the best products and do it efficiently, outsourcing a lot of the labor and manufacturing overseas to make IPods, Ipads and IPhones as competitively priced as possible for their worldwide markets. As a result of their growth, their shares are eclipsing the 700 dollar mark on the market, and they employ over 20,000 Americans here in the US alone with over 60,000 worldwide. This isn’t counting all the salespeople, stores, shipping and subcontracted labor they use to bring those wonderful products to market either.
In fact, Apple’s sales and enormous growth represents almost 4% of the US GDP now (according to MacWorld magazine, March 2011) and a startling 22% of the GDP growth and 18% of the DOW index since Obama took office (Bloomberg). Without Apple, the DOW technology sector would be actually in DECLINE since Team Obama took over. If the DOW put Apple in its Dow Jones 500 weighting calculations, the size of Apple would be bigger than the market itself, putting it bigger than Google and Microsoft combined and easily eclipsing EXXON the previous king of the DOW.
Steve Jobs’ last name was appropriate wasn’t it? You would think that would garner some attention from the Federal government on how to build a better mousetrap and create some jobs. Well, Apple finally got the attention it deserved this week.
Team Obama wants to put the people that run Apple these days in jail. Haven’t you seen the massive media machine spinning story after story about how ‘awful and mean’ Apple Inc. is? The Justice department also opened up a lawsuit this week, alleging Apple is violating anti-trust laws.
That’s right; they are actually suing a company that represents anything positive in the US economy over the last three years making a ridiculous claim that Apple is guilty of anti-trust violations in the publishing of the e-book market. That’s some epic timing too, right before the election. The lawsuit is bound to have an effect on the market.
According to Apple’s own filings, its e-book business is less than 10% of the entire e-book market, which is coincidentally less than 10% of the overall publishing market. Yup that sure sounds like a monopoly to me. The charge? That Apple actually had the nerve to try and encourage prices to go up in order to make its own ITunes platform (and Apple) more competitive against e-book giant Amazon who has the lion’s share of the burgeoning e-book market.
In short, the government is trying to claim that Apple is breaking the law by trying to make their products more profitable. They are suing capitalism.
They actually used taped recordings of a dead man (Steve Jobs) to argue that Apple was operating unethically. More importantly the argument is not that Apple actually broke any laws, but that Jobs was personally ‘dismissive’ over concerns by Apple executives that it might cause prices to rise.
The Justice department’s argument thus revolves around someone’s attitude—a person that is now dead — that the government controlled marketplace sucks, rather than the anti-trust law itself.
Worse, the driving factor behind the lawsuit was not that prices were being driven up, but that publishers were mad that Amazon was controlling the market; not Apple. The lawsuit alleges that publishers were working with Apple to exclude books from Amazon’s marketplace in order to make the prices rise. That would be a good argument except for one thing—the publishers are going out of business because of these practices, people aren’t paying more, they are paying LESS! A publisher has every right not to sell its books to Amazon if they feel Amazon is dumping the books at low prices. There’s no monopoly there since there are literally MILLIONS of titles to choose from THOUSANDS of publishers.
If the Justice department had a lick of sense they would realize that there can be no anti-trust violation if there is no control over the market or inherent monopoly.
Problem is, Apple knows that fighting the Justice department on this matter will cost far more than simply settling out of court. So does Team Obama. This is merely another shakedown of a successful company in order to flex the muscle of the federal ‘kommissars’ and remind Apple who is in charge.
Plus maybe the government will pay some bills off, or repay some political favors. You can imagine the settlement with Apple is going to be huge. No one wants to go to jail. It will also make the unions feel good about themselves—Apple was no friend to the unions, having most of its manufacturing outsourced overseas.
Team Obama is a worm in America’s Apple. This time it looks like the serpent is telling everyone NOT to take a bite.