There’s a persistent folktale that the famous bitten fruit depicted in Apple’s logo actually represents the same forbidden fruit noshed on by Adam and Eve.
The story is pure hogwash — Steve Jobs selected the titular fruit simply because he dug eating them. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar and an apple is just an apple.
But if life followed the rules of fiction, this folktale would have undoubtedly been the logo’s origin story and the underlying symbolism would have been obvious: any dealing with this company signals a deal with the devil.
Last week, Apple shattered records and saw its valuation shoot up to $2 trillion. For those keeping track at home, it was only in 2018 that Apple became the world’s first trillion-dollar company.
The kicker: this additional trillion dollars was all gained in the last 22 weeks, while the rest of the country and world has been robbed of its jobs, freedom of movement and overall lives.
In other words, windfall profits in an era of plague and poverty.
Apple is hardly the sole despoiler of the American people. All the big-tech Goliaths have enjoyed massive gains during the coronavirus pandemic. Microsoft recently reported a revenue bump of 13%, and the sales of Amazon increased by 40% in the second fiscal quarter.
The metaphorical pile of gold these tech titans are collecting is enough to make Roman playboy Caligula, Isralite playboy Shebna and celibate hoarder Smaug all blush.
As for how the opposing side, or the rest of us suckers, is faring, the figures speak more bluntly and with less dazzle: the coronavirus has stolen the lives of more than 170,000 Americans and corrupted the bodies of 5.5 million more, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Due to historical sins and unrighted wrongs, communities of color have been ravaged by the pandemic at unforgivably-higher rates. For instance, Black people are three times more likely to die from the coronavirus relative to their share of the population according to studies by Yale University.
According to the Aspen Institute, 30 to 40 million Americans are on the cusp of losing their home or apartment.
The unemployment rate hovers at 10%, and 92 million Americans continue to be either uninsured or underinsured in a time when the moral imperative for universal healthcare can be ignored by only the most closed of minds and hardened of hearts.
We were not granted tickets to board the gravy train. Instead, we must content ourselves with cramped box cars and jellied cockroaches for dinner.
But there is a lone voice crying out in our desert of a civic society, shrill and Brooklynite in its condemnation of the status quo. That voice belongs to Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the few people in Washington D.C. who is genuinely committed to advancing the common good and helping the needy flourish instead of perish.
Earlier this month, Sanders joined Sens. Ed Markey and Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing the Make Billionaires Pay Act to the morally-hollow halls of Congress. Under the proposal, the 467 billionaires currently taking refuge on America’s shores will face a 60% wealth tax, with the revenue raised paying for the healthcare expenses of Americans who lack adequate coverage for a single year.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, comes in at the bottom-rung of this list of billionaires, having an impoverished net worth of exactly $1 billion. His contribution would be minimal, if not non-existent, compared to the big bucks of Bezos or Zuckerburg.
But the principle undergirding the senators’ act, a desire to implement justice and ensure that every member of society pays their fair share, is hewn from common sense and should be extended to Apple and every other silicon-lined corporation.
In his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI laid out a critique of untamed and unconquered capitalism. He criticized conservatism for its refusal to see Christ in every person who hungers or thirsts, attacked liberalism for its milquetoast and inadequate handling of social ills, and unleashed his pontifical powers against socialism for “proposing a remedy worse than the evil itself.”
Yet, despite Sanders’ self-described label of democratic socialist, Pius XI and the senator from Vermont share common enemies and similar visions of a world redeemed. Sanders’ policies swing far-rightward of Maoism or Leninism, and in actuality, continue the same goals sought by presidents such as Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, both of whom advocated for a national insurance program and also probably weren’t hiding hammer and sickles in their closets.
Contrast Sanders’ timid solutions to the venom that abounds in the Vicar of Christ’s sulfur and thunder.
Pope Pius XI writes in the Quadragesimo Anno “the rich are bound by a very grave precept to practice almsgiving, beneficence, and munificence.”
He calls the bountiful riches produced by individualistic societies “not rightly distributed or equitably made available” and laments that the groans of the working poor cry out to God from Earth.
Arguing not from Marxist doctrine, but from pure agape for God’s creation, Pius XI’s complaint continues: the “huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good.”
Whether intoned in Latin or through a thick Brooklyn accent, the message is clear: Apple and its ilk should freeload no longer.