activecarbon - Blogs of Hao Wang

Each year around April 15th, we pay tax. As usual, my wife completed our tax filing ahead of time. The only difference this year is when she finished, she smiled to me and said, “Our annual spending on computing devices are in the range of thousands. This year is no difference.” This get me thinking, aren’t we paying tax to Apple Computer each year?

In this day and age, each of us most likely carries a number of computing devices. iPhone in the pocket, blackberry on the belt, and ipad in hand, we are becoming cyborgs. Our annual consumption now includes silicon, metal, and plastic, in addition to food and clothing. The expenditure on electronic computing devices has become necessary part of our lives.

Government can obtain resources by printing money (Benanke’s Quantitative Easing 2), receiving voluntary gifts (such as voluntary contributions to State University of New York or City University of New York), imposing penalties (such as fines collected through parking violations), borrowing (issuing bond), confiscating wealth (impounded drug lords’ stash), etc. However, government obtains the lion share of its resource through imposing taxes, based on predetermined criteria without tying to any specific benefit received. The purpose of tax is to support the government. Failure to pay tax is punishable by law. It “is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution”. In other words, tax is a compulsory transfer of wealth from private sector to the public sector.

Our payment to Apple computer is voluntary yet compulsory. Apple has the power to set pricing and the frequency of releases. It organizes to drive innovation and deliver new functionalities and satisfaction to consumers. A good job Apple does, for which consumers pay, happily and annually. It is more than satisfying needs. it satisfies emotions. The transfer of wealth from consumers to Apple is to support its ingenuity. Failure to pay the sum will be punishable by fashion. Seldom has a private corporation earned the power to levy such implicit tax. Microsoft in the 90s did. They renew their Windows each year, appending new letters NT, 95, 2000, XP, Vista behind Windows and tacitly forcing consumers and businesses to pay. The transfer of wealth funded Microsoft’s development, marketing, creativities, and acquisitions. Now it is Apple’s time. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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