Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

In unrelated news, Apple hires Lisa Jackson

Jerry Stratton, May 29, 2013

In The Bureaucracy Event Horizon I wrote about a hypothetical dilemma faced by a non-hypothetical tech company:

I recently wrote about Tesla Motors being fined for not having their car tested for direct emissions. Tesla makes all-electric vehicles; the vehicles have no emissions. So, imagine that you are in this company’s position. You’ve got the funds to hire one new position (you would have had funds for two, but you had to downsize your plans after paying that fine), and you’ve got two proposals on your desk. One will hire a new engineer, an expert in battery design, because you know that to make your cars more successful, you need to push battery technology forward. You’ve even got someone in mind for this new position, Pacific Tech graduate Chris Knight, who has already revolutionized power delivery in the laser industry. This position will produce innovative new technologies for your vehicle line.

Your second choice is an expert in regulation conformance. You’ve got someone in mind for this position, too, a twenty-year executive at General Motors, who has years of experience navigating federal and state red tape. In order to avoid new hundred-thousand-dollar fines, this position will have veto authority over any new technologies proposed for your vehicle line.

Which position will you approve? And what does that do for the state of innovation in your industry?

Silly me, why go to General Motors for your expert in red tape? Why not go to the source? That’s how Apple answered this question after being called in front of Congress to explain how Congress’s convoluted tax laws work.

We came in with a proposal… we said we’re not here asking for tax breaks, but we think there should be revenue neutral comprehensive reform. For multi-nationals, we need simplicity. Gut the code… it’s 7,500 pages. Our tax return is two feet high.

A two-foot-high tax return is going to require a whole lot of accountants, none of whom make Apple’s products better.

Congress, of course, wants Apple’s army of accountants to work in the government’s favor rather than Apple’s. They don’t want to remove the need to hire the army—they don’t want to simplify the tax code that keeps Apple’s foreign profits outside the US. They just want Apple to pay double taxes.

Rather than cave, Apple chose to fight, but to do that you need experts in beltway politics both to advise you and to lobby for you. They hired Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA and part-time sock-puppet.

Every lobbyist-in-all-but-name they hire is someone who is not working on making better products: longer-lasting batteries, more reliable phone service, faster computers.

Chris Knight remains jobless.

In response to The Bureaucracy Event Horizon: Government bureaucracy is the ultimate broken window.

  1. <- ObamaCare is a tax
  2. The price of politics ->