I hate Apple. There was a time when I would look at my iPhone, and my heart would skip a beat. With its stylish white-and-gray cover, it felt like a luxury car I could hold in my hot little hand. It told me things I didn't know. It told me how to get where I wanted to go. It was exciting. It purred cute little noises that let me know I was wanted, desirable, in demand.
Now I look at it and see hours spent in the fix-it station, dubbed the Genius Bar, the rapacious 30 percent commissions Apple charges to vendors, the demon device that has wooed so many secrets from me that it knows the name of my first dog. I see the nag that keeps bugging me about updates.
You start out thinking you own an iPhone until you realize it owns you.
I have told myself that, yes, I can leave Apple, I can be strong. I can look into the light of the seductive screen and not rush into it. But like Julia Roberts in "Sleeping with the Enemy," I have to plan my escape. You cannot just leave Apple. There are terms.
So when Apple CEO Tim Cook was set to testify before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on Tuesday on the issue of tax avoidance, I didn't see it as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., did. Paul said the committee should apologize to Apple as he berated "a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America's greatest success stories."
I see the panel and the corporation as evenly matched. I figured Cook could hold his own when faced down by a gaggle of senators who try to squeeze the most out of federal campaign contribution laws as they lecture Apple about its duty to not play the tax code. And they do so in a way that you'd never guess that senators helped write that tax code.
"We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar," quoth Cook. "We not only comply with the laws, we comply with the spirit of the laws."
And: "We don't stash our money on some Caribbean island." He's absolutely right. Apple doesn't have to stash its money on the Cayman Islands because it stashes its intellectual property on a European island, Ireland.
Cook then put the ball in the Senate's court: "We recommend a dramatic simplification of the corporate tax code. This reform should be revenue-neutral, eliminate all corporate tax expenditures, lower corporate income tax rates and implement a reasonable tax on foreign earnings that allows the free flow of capital back to the United States." He even told the senators he assumed that under such a system, Apple would pay more.