Anthony, I understand your concerns. First of all, I have not stated, nor implied, that anyone has done anything illegal here. The is-it-legal-is-it-not argument is not what I’m driving at here, and I suspect you know that too. So let’s leave that one at the door.
Second, this short piece attempts to display my bewilderment that Americans are not more outraged by this kind of practice, whereby a corporation with more money than people can barely imagine (as for the figure, check the original Guardian piece I linked to) can — legally, yes — stash, hide, conceal, withdraw — profits from tax inspectors all over the world (again, I’ll forget your semantic argument about the connotations of these words: that ball’s in your court. And besides, the company did actively hide these operations from the public, as has been shown via the leaks).
Let’s skip to your bullet points:
- Yes, I think we can all agree with that.
- There’s a dilemma here, as you imply that only by virtue signaling otherwise should anybody in the public eye be subjected to accusations they have avoided (yes, that legality again) taxes to the detriment of the public purse. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re Bono or Berlusconi, my point is that when the army of lawyers and accountants shows up and asks whether you a) pay your taxes or b) channel funds into a complex web of offshore accounts and plans so that you can avoid said tax, anything other than answering a) falls under dubious morality.
Your final paragraph — the one after the unnecessary and incorrect lesson about media ethics (thanks for that, by the way) — actually makes some fair points: yes, the income divide is growing, wealth is calcifying and democracy is being eroded by the kinds of actions whereby corporations are beholden to their shareholders to the detriment of the nation.
But I think overall you’re obfuscating the main argument, which is a moral one, and therefore needs to be grounded in people, real people, and the sorts of people Apple is ironically courting. It is exactly the sort of legalese-like, wonkish reply you’ve supplied here, that moves this argument away from the public sphere and into that of policymakers, economists and business leaders.
None of those have been proven to help the situation. So my point is this: why are the people not exercising their democratic right and standing up against this practice?
You can answer that one, by the way. And no, I shouldn’t retract :)