Apple, If This Is a Test of Our humanity, You have Failed Miserably

We are in a pandemic. I’ve spent the last week moving my synagogue into a virtual space and checking in on my seniors. Judie is working from home while babysitting grandkids so her daughter and son-in-law can continue to do their jobs. Carly is handling her day job remotely while building a home school program for her child. And what has Apple done? They’ve released a new, overpriced iPad. Really Apple? Are you that clueless?

Apple, If This Is a Test of Our humanity, You have Failed Miserably

Let me step back. I love Apple products. I have an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook, and an iMac. I have been part of the minions who have made Apple the cash-rich company it is. I haven’t minded giving them my money. The products are great, and the company has a social conscience. Or so I thought.

Apple sits on an unimaginable pile of cash totaling about $207 Billion. They could easily launch a relief fund that would help keep the countless Americans who have already lost their jobs afloat. They could use their money to augment the funds that are about to (finally) begin flowing from the government. And I imagine they could quickly work to reconfigure one or more of their factories and to begin producing one or more of the protective items that are already in short supply. Instead, they have donated about $15 million worldwide, and they are matching their employee’s donations two-to-one.

Think about that for a moment. Apple has $207 Billion in cash … and they are forcing their employees to donate first before their two-to-one donations kick in?! Apple should be donating outright; they shouldn’t have to take from their employees to do good. Maybe those employees need their paychecks more than ever right now?

With a mountain of cash and the most efficient supply chain on the planet, Apple could do a tremendous amount of good if they wanted to. But they aren’t; they haven’t. Instead, they used the third day of the national shutdown to announce a new iPad and an overpriced keyboard for it … oh, and they also announced an updated MacBook Air. Is the company that tone-deaf? Are they that callous? Or, as they seem to be proving, are they a soulless, money machine that only cares about their bottom line?

Those questions are rhetorical because what Apple has just proven is that they suck. They have no social conscience and, even in the midst of a crisis, they seem to have adopted the logo first seen on Melanie Trump’s infamous jacket — “I don’t really care… do you?”

Yes Apple, I do care.
I care about the lives that have been disrupted.
I care about my community members who are terrified.
I care about my seniors, and I share their fear that this virus will take an especially serious toll on their part of the community.
I care about the medical personnel who are working exceptionally long hours and are running out of protective gear.
I care that we are on track to see the virus spread in the US akin to the devastation happening in Italy.
I care that a company I thought was basically decent has done NOTHING beyond the bare minimum.

And let’s not forget about Amazon. Jeff Bezos sits on a personal fortune that is unimaginable by most of us. He and his companies could also do a great deal of good. But what is Bezos doing? Employees of Amazon’s Whole Foods have been asked to give their sick days to other employees that fall ill. After blaming that “benefit” on a John Mackey (Whole Food’s CEO) policy predating the acquisition, Amazon said all “Amazon employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay.” Hourly employees get unlimited unpaid time off through the end of March. How generous.

Amazon has established a fund with an initial $25 million contribution to help support their “independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress during this challenging time.” To get help, people in those qualifying groups will be given the “ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine by the government or Amazon.” That fund isn’t even just for employees impacted by COVID-19 during this pandemic, though — it will also support Amazon employees and contractors around the world “who face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, federally declared emergency or unforeseen personal hardship. Applicants can apply and receive a personal grant from the fund ranging from $400 to $5,000 USD per person.”

Seriously Amazon? That’s the best you’ve got?

Apple and Amazon, this is a test of our humanity, and you are failing miserably. But there is still time to do more. Get together with other large corporations, and find a way to support workers and customers worldwide. Forget about profits for a while, and use your success and resources to do good. After all, the people who will die during this pandemic are your customers and your employees. If you won’t do it for the sake of morality, do it because it’s in your best longterm interest.

Remember: Dead people don’t buy Macs and they certainly aren’t going to continue subscribing to Amazon Prime.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

1 Comment on "Apple, If This Is a Test of Our humanity, You have Failed Miserably"

  1. Doug Miller | March 21, 2020 at 11:35 am |

    My daughter works for Whole Foods and when I sent her that story about donation of sick time, she told me that was inaccurate from employee’s point of view. Whole Foods management has told all employees that they should/must take sick time if they are ill and that they will receive two weeks time off if they do become ill. The have always had the option for employees to donate unused sick time, and my daughter has done this in the past, but this is to support employees who have to take extended sick time off (cancer diagnosis, house fires, natural disasters) – it is nothing new with COVID-19, and their paid time off doesn’t accrue much, which is why they are encouraged to donate when they reach full levels. (They are also getting paid $2/hour more, plus more overtime pay.)

    As for Apple and the new release of the iPad, there is another side to that coin. It must take months to get the supply chain ready to support a new release, and part of that includes stopping making the old product. If Apple already has stockpiles of the new iPad Pro ready to ship, and hardly any of the old model, shouldn’t they release it? Why make people who truly need one wait weeks for the old model if they had to retool factories if they have enough of the new to ship now? You didn’t mention the new MacBook Air, but why shouldn’t they update it now? Why make people who need a new one pay for a butterfly switch MBA when they have made a replacement with a far more reliable scissor switch mechanism, and at a lower price, and with better hardware?

    And as for evaluating what companies are doing to help out, maybe we should give them a little time to work out what their best contributions could be and analyze their responses after a little more time has passed? Less than four weeks ago there were only 25 known cases in the US – this has moved so fast, so it may be that Apple and Amazon have big announcements to come about how they are making donations and other charitable efforts available in the best way.

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