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Apple’s Cook: Business Should Step In Where Government Fails

August 29, 2017, 9:33 AM UTC

Tim Cook thinks big business should help fill in the societal gaps left by a less-than-functional government.

The Apple CEO said in an interview with The New York Times that government has over time “become less functional and isn’t working at the speed that it once was,” leaving it to business and other areas of society to “step up.”

“I think we have a moral responsibility to help grow the economy, to help grow jobs, to contribute to this country and to contribute to the other countries that we do business in,” Cook said, while noting that “probably a more significant group” reckons he only has a responsibility to Wall Street.

Cook’s sense of social responsibility has recently been on full display, in the wake of the racially charged clashes in Charlottesville, Va. He emailed employees to fulminate against president Donald Trump’s condemnation of “both sides” at the far-right rally, saying that equating white supremacists with their opponents “runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

He also had Apple set up a program for making donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors and issues alerts about hate-group activities.

However, Apple is regularly criticized for its tax avoidance policies, which reduce the funding for public services. Although the company paid $28 billion in federal taxes from 2014 to 2016, it holds over $230 billion of its cash reserves offshore, to reduce its tax bill in the U.S..

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In the NYT interview, Cook talked up Apple’s recently-launched app-coding courses, which are being offered at dozens of community colleges in the U.S. The courses teach people how to develop apps using Apple’s own Swift coding language, so they are geared towards building up Apple’s own iPhone and iPad app ecosystem.

He said Apple had chosen to go the community-college route rather than offering its curriculum through four-year colleges, because “the community college system is much more diverse than the four-year schools, particularly the four-year schools that are known for comp sci.” The result, he hopes, will be more app-economy jobs, particularly in states like Alabama and Ohio, which are not known as technology hubs.

When asked by the interviewer whether he had political aspirations, Cook said he appreciated the compliment “if it is a compliment,” but he already has a full-time job.