Apple’s Real Blowback Risk

Cook is willing to be more public. He hasn’t yet taken the Marc Benioff route, as we wrote about last week, of pulling Salesforce.com business from states such as Indiana that pass such laws.

That doesn’t seem like Apple’s approach. But still, Cook is putting the Apple brand in the middle of the debate. And that must come with some risks, such as reduced sales by supporters of such measures.

via SiliconBeat – Does Apple’s Tim Cook risk blowback over gay rights stand?

There is a risk whenever a CEO takes a public stand on a political topic, and an even greater risk when he invests the entire company in a political crusade. I do not, however, think that this is the real problem. The real problem is Democracy.

Here is a thought exercise.

Are you opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United v. FEC? 

How do you feel about Apple And Salesforce.com putting their money into campaigns to support same-sex marriage?

Think of your answers to the two questions. Now consider:

Is it possible to oppose Citizens United and support the right of Apple and Salesforce.com to spend their money on political action?

Is it possible to support Citizens United and argue against the involvement of Apple and Salesforce.com in politics?

I would argue that the answer to both of those is “not without acknowledging your own hypocrisy.”

Something to think about.

Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar – The Washington Post.

There is a growing body of evidence pointing to a deep divide between the interests of conservatives (and, indeed, of America) on the one hand, and those of corporate America on the other. The campaign being waged by public utilities against rooftop solar is one. The buried lede:

“Conservatives support solar — they support it even more than progressives do,” said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice and a vice president of public policy for Sunrun, a California solar provider. “It’s about competition in its most basic form. The idea that you should be forced to buy power from a state-sponsored monopoly and not have an option is about the least conservative thing you can imagine.”

Excellent article, superb links.

As an aside, I am on the verge of giving up my resistance and subscribing to the WaPo. With The New York Times continuing Pinch Sulzberger’s long, ugly slide to the Left, and the Murdoch-controlled Wall Street Journal digging in deeper on the far right, it is nice to see Jeff Bezos allowing the Post to settle in somewhere closer to a balanced center.

The SEC Fails America, Again

The SEC Caves on China – WSJ.

From The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. stock-market regulators say they promote transparency and fair play, but this month the Securities and Exchange Commission quietly carved out a China-size exception: When Chinese companies list on U.S. markets, basic auditing rules won’t apply.

Why would the SEC agree to this? Again, the Journal:

Why? Because China’s government doesn’t want them to, and Washington bent to Beijing’s pressure.

I think that answer is, at best, is partly correct. The other bit – and the bit that the WSJ would never cop to – is that Wall Street is terrified that if it does not provide an exemption for Chinese auditors, the deal flow from China to the US exchanges and investment banks will dry up.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The chairman of Goldman Sachs and the President of the NYSE carry far more weight in the White House and on the Hill than Xi Jinping ever will.

We here at the Bull Moose have deep objections to gratuitous regulation. But there are some places where regulation is essential, and the SEC is in business to protect individual investors and, on their behalf, the transparency of the markets. They have failed here, and in so doing they have undermined everyone’s market on behalf of a small number of privileged players.

More demonstration – if any were needed – that as Republicans we should not automatically align ourselves with ideals, policies, and leaders who place the interests of corporations ahead of the individuals who own and work for them.

Failure on the Waterfront

Meanwhile, frustrated exporters and importers will find other routes. In a recent survey by the Journal of Commerce, 60% of shippers said they had begun redirecting cargoes away from America’s West Coast ports. Once that business leaves, it may never return. Western ports have already lost market share to the East Coast since 2002, when failed labour talks led to an 11-day lockout and a total shutdown.

via Labour relations: Watching fruit rot | The Economist.

When the docks of Tacoma, Oakland, Port Hueneme, and Long Beach go quiet; when two million jobs and billions of tax dollars disappear from the West Coast; and when these massive ports become run-down waterside slums, remember that the decline began when a union put its own existence ahead of the well-being of its members, its communities, its cities, and the region.

I have nothing agains the dockworkers having a union. I have nothing against collective bargaining. And I recognize that in any labor dispute, both sides share culpability. But in this case, the union needs to recognize that its tactics are self-defeating and that it needs to take an approach that doesn’t threaten millions of other workers in the process.

Billionaire Activists

The much-vaunted separation of the 1 percent, or 1 percent of the 1 percent, from the rest of society doesn’t mean simply that some people have many more homes and cars and planes than the rest of us; nor does it mean they can simply finance an insurgent candidate who might not otherwise be viable (as was the case with some antiwar Democrats in the late ’60s). It means they possess a truly enormous power to shape perceptions in our society, to bend democracy more than was possible before. What can we call such a system? Clearly Robert Dahl’s “polyarchy” concept needs serious revision. Who might undertake it?

Scott McConnell
Who Governs?”
The American Conservative
January 21, 2015

Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center

Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center.

The finding here, no surprise, is that Americans still want to be leaders in space, especially as China gears up to challenge the US lead at some point in the future.

The problem, of course, is that America can no longer afford that leadership if it is going to rely entirely upon government largesse, or upon a NASA that is still lurching uncertainly toward its future.

The American space program needs a rethink, one that neither hogs the effort for the government, nor dumps the burden of off-planet development onto the backs of the private sector. It is, in short, time for a new vision of space that incorporates a public-private partnership and the means to pay for the public part of that effort.

Bull Moose Thought for the Day

“We must hold the just balance and set ourselves as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand, as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

If there was ever a thought that should guide the 21st Century Republican Party, this is it.

Getting to “Yes” On Pension Reform

Pension Reform Handbook: A Starter Guide for Reformers
L
ance Christensen and Adrian Moore

The Reason Foundation
July 2014

On the day when the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a state law against the unionization of public employees, our neighbors over at the Reason Foundation have issued a study on pension reform. Lance Christensen and Adrian Moore, both of whom have extensive experience in the trenches trying to fix dysfunctional government, frame the study as a guidebook for legislators and others who need to make reform happen.

I will confess that I do not know enough about state employee pensions to make any emphatic statement about government employee pension reform, but like most citizens, I am caught in a quandary. Part of me wants to give police and firefighters a comfortable retirement. But the other part of me is aghast at how high the bill for public employment has climbed as a percentage of GDP. There has to be a way of taking care of the people who serve us without bleeding the populace or shutting vital public services.

I believe a solution is possible, but it demands that we as the people insist that process be open, transparent, and free from the influence of special interests that would freeze the process. And it starts with jettisoning some ideological baggage. If we Republicans are willing to grant that public workers have to be protected from exploitation, Democrats must be willing to grant that the status quo is set to bankrupt American government.

Behind the Billions: 8 Things You Never Knew About Warren Buffett | ABC News – Yahoo. For every capitalist pig that the Left can name, I can point out a decent human being who happens to be worth a lot of money. Just off the top of my head, let’s start with Warren Buffett, but let’s add Marc Benioff, Pierre Omidyar, Irwin Jacobs, Bill and Melinda Gates, John and Catherine MacArthur, and Helen and Peter Bing. (Note, please, that this is a decidedly non-partisan list.) Whom am I forgetting?

A Point on Net Neutrality

As we begin to examine the unsavory ties between the FCC leadership and the telecommunications industry, we on the right would be wrong to frame this as an issue of the left vs. business. While respecting the property rights of the telcos, we should also keep in mind the nation of businesses that have grown on and now depend on net neutrality. And while respecting the needs of large companies that depend on net neutrality, we should also recognize that every business should pay a fair price for the services it receives.

Being pro-business is not, and never should be, about coddling leviathans. It is, rather, to make the field fertile for the modern American Yeomanry: the farmer, the shop owner, the entrepreneur, and the guy in his basement inventing the future.

Teddy Roosevelt and Ike Eisenhower understood this. Massive corporations need no coddling. They need watching, because once they strays beyond commerce and into the political arena, they individually and collectively pose a latent danger to democracy.

As Republicans and as Americans, we forget this at our peril. And we have forgotten it too long already.

As we ponder the implications of Net Neutrality, lets make sure that our arguments are swayed neither by the propaganda of the Internet libertarians nor of the corporate interests involved, but by principle.

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