To me, this is a disgustingly extreme story and I agree with Cook. It is appropriate for shareholders to advocate for profits, but profit as the only goal for a company is just ludicrous. The most astounding part is this quote from the shareholder:
“Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects. After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change.”
Wait, combatting climate change is part of short-term returns? And maximizing quarterly profits is part of long-term financial vision?
Always try to do the right thing, just not with the stock price.
The “right thing” regarding climate is completely unclear at the moment. It’s unclear, in my view, based on the science, that man is causing signficant warming. But even if you believe otherwise, it is entirely unclear whether we can do anything about it at this point, or what the results will be.
But what is clear is that Apple has every right to do what it wants to. There’s no obligation to shareholders to not waste money on things that might be genuinely wasteful, as long as Apple’s management sees some value — even moral value — in it.
While I have no strong opinion on whether or not man is causing significant or irreversible warming — I think the science is far from settled or convincing — there’s nothing anywhere ever that says Apple shouldn’t spend money on it if they believe that is the best thing to spend that money on. If you don’t like it, sell your shares.
Personally, I would not spend a dime of my company’s money on climate initiatives, because I am unconvinced it’s worth spending money on. But pollution, worker safety, and other things … there is a tangible ROI on those things, and that ROI should be considered.
Sometimes that ROI is in goodwill (which will happen from Apple’s climate change initiatives even if they don’t have any effect on climate), but with pollution and worker safety, that stuff gets you actually better workers and therefore better products.
One final note … Cook seems to be angered by the notion that we should put money before people. But the best way you figure out what is good for people is to see where their money goes in a free market. If you honestly get people to give you their money, that’s the best indicator possible that you’re doing good by people (in their opinion, anyway).
I guess charitable donations are no good, either…
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