Thu, Jun

Letter to Tim Cook, Other Ultra-rich CEOs and Hedge Fund Titans


GUEST COMMENTARY - The victims of the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria need your help now. The surviving families and children and those rescued alive from the rubble are in serious danger in affected wintertime impoverished regions. Refugees in other places fleeing their war-torn homelands are also suffering. International aid agencies are grossly insufficient for these immediate humanitarian necessities.

What are you Big Business Titans doing sitting on massive pay, profits and tax escapes? Awakening your consciousness for your fellow human beings may be a modest form of redemption. Further, you have access to logistics specialists, delivery systems, communication facilities and many other contacts and resources. You get your calls returned! Fast!

Tim Cook, you have been making $833 a MINUTE (plus lavish benefits). Remarkably, your compensation is not even in the top ten of operating company CEOs. Moreover, your own cultivated sense of envy knows that there are Hedge Fund Goliaths, who in some recent years, made off with over $2,500 per MINUTE on a forty-hour week.

Tim, you and the Apple corporation are known to pay few taxes given what tax attorneys and tax accountants do for you (especially with Apple taking advantage of foreign tax havens while receiving the fruits of Washington’s free government R&D over the years). Your company has so much leftover money, flowing from the deprivation of a million serf laborers in China, and so few productive outlets for this mass of capital that you have set records for stock buybacks—over $400 billion in the last decade.

You and Apple and the Hedge Fund Titans are not known for your charitable giving as a percent of your adjusted gross income. Yet, if asked “Do you believe in the Golden Rule?” you would probably say “Yes” – at least in public.

Use your wealth and newfound empathy to organize direct relief for these earthquake victims and other major refugee areas such as the starving children of Somalia. Deliver food, medicine, clothing, shelter, mobile clinics and many other available airlifted essentials. Hire skilled people to make it happen. Give your new organization a prominent logo for permanence and for setting an example for other super-rich to emulate.

Your isolation from the public expectation that you enter the above engagements in a significant way is quite remarkable. That should trouble you and your public relations advisors.

Just this week National Public Radio (NPR) featured a startling compilation of what producers of movies and TV shows believe appeals to their viewers. It is no longer awe or envy of the ‘rich and famous.’ It is no longer the Horatio Alger myth. It is encapsulated in NPR’s headline: Why “eat the rich” storylines are taking over TV and movies.

As Bob Dylan sang, “the times, they are a-changin’.”

NPR reporter Kristin Schwab related:

“Hollywood’s depictions of the wealthy – and perhaps societal attitudes toward them – have changed.… The moment isn’t random. Think about the extreme economic events we’ve been through. There’s the pandemic, when essential workers kept the country running while the richest 1% amassed a huge sum of wealth – twice as much as the rest of the world put together (her emphasis), according to the non-profit Oxfam. And before that was The Great Recession, which is how we got the term “the 1%.”

Mr. Cook, Apple is reportedly making a contribution to the Turkey/Syria relief effort. Are you personally making a contribution? Your Big Business Titan comrades may think they can get away with gated, cold-blooded mentalities. They may be right about that if the mass media doesn’t turn its steely gaze toward their hoards of gold and question their “don’t give a damn” attitude.

Maybe they just can’t help themselves – so busy are they counting their lucre. Here is an idea: ask them to ask their grandchildren, 12 and under, what they want them to do. Absorb their moral authority and MOVE FAST TO HELP THOSE IN NEED!

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! This article was featured first in CounterPunch.org.)