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Ralph Nader On What He Thinks Apple Should Do With Its Excess Billions

Earlier this month, Apple became the first private-sector company to be worth $1 trillion.
Philippe Lopez
AFP/Getty Images
Earlier this month, Apple became the first private-sector company to be worth $1 trillion.

Before Apple became the world's first private sector company to be worth $1 trillion earlier this month, CEO Tim Cook announced $100 billion worth of stock buybacks.

The move concerned consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who earlier this year,wrote Cook an open letter raising questions about the company's buyback strategy — questions such as who was consulted for the decision, and who stood to profit most.

In an interview with NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition Saturday,Nader voiced his concerns once again, expressing disapproval of how Apple is spending its excess billions.

"It could have been used to increase [the number of] employees. It could have been used to shore up the pension fund," Nader says of the money Apple spent on stock buybacks.

Additionally, Nader says, the money could have been used to improve recycling practices for old phones and computers, productive investment, research and development, or even given back to shareholders in the form of cash dividends.

While Nader doesconcede that Apple has worked to improve working conditions and create programs for recycling, he says the tech giant could be doing much more.

"The kind of income that the Chinese workers are making, under tremendous pressure by their contractor, is really not a living wage, even in China," Nader says.

When Apple announced earlier this year that it would bring an additional 20,000 jobs to the U.S., it also said it would bring back billions of dollars. Still, Nader says, "While they know how to make enormous money with their overpriced iPhones, they don't know how to productively use it."

As Nader continues to offer suggestions for how Apple can use its profits, he admits that he is not an Apple user — no iPhone, no computer, just his Underwood typewriter.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.