Biting the Apple

It was inevitable. You remember the scene in Godfather II when Don Fannucci jumps on Vito Corleone’s car and demands a share of his business — just enough to “wet my beak”? That’s going on in Washington with Apple in the car and 525 Congressmen on the side board.

Every successful company finds out that it can’t just work on improving its products and serving consumers. Sooner or later, it’s going to have to deal with politicians and regulators sniffing around its business.

Yes, Apple — praised to the skies for being an innovator and job creator by Washington politicians when that narrative serves their interests — has become the latest target of the political class.

According to Politico, the daily newspaper of lobbyists and political consultants, industry giant Apple spent a mere $500,000 in Washington in the first quarter of 2012, compared to more than $7 million Google and Microsoft spent on lobbying and related activities from January through March of this year.

Then Politico lowers the boom: “The company’s attitude toward D.C. — described by critics as ‘don’t bother us’ — has left it without many inside-the-Beltway friends.”

The same things happened to Microsoft, Paypal, Google, Intel and many other tech companies. They started out wanting to just to business. And then Washington said, “I hear you and your friends are selling computers. But you don’t even send a dress to my house. No respect! You should let me wet my beak a little!” Now they play the Washington game.

Companies that don’t pay the protection money will find that there is some law nebulous enough to attack them with. Anti-trust is a common avenue since the definition of a monopoly is deliberately vague. And indeed, the FTC is now seeing if Apple is stifling competition. The Justice Department is looking at their e-book pricing. And the International Trade Commission is looking at their patents. If these don’t work I’m sure they’ll find some rule or law Apple has violated. The advantage of having so many thousands of laws on the books, as Harvey Silverglate noted, is that everyone is guilty of something even they dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’.

This will stop the same it way it stopped with Microsoft and Google — when Apple buys a bunch of lobbyists and makes the customary tribute to Washington. This will stop when they let the 525 Don Fanucci’s wet their beaks in Apple’s success.

Don’t like it? Quit supporting big government. It is only the extent and power of our massive Federal government that gives them both their sense of entitlement and the ability to extort their share. There may never come a time when Washington doesn’t feel entitled to their tribute. But why must we make it so easy for them?

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    I used to be a big believer in anti-trust laws. Now, no so much.

    Monopolies don’t seem to be able to maintain themselves in a free economy. They stagnate, get lazy, bet on the wrong horse, and suddenly they aren’t relevant any longer.

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