Making America Great Again
Making America Great Again I’m not sure about the ‘again’ bit. It seems to me that America has never lost its supremacy. That’s not due to successive Presidents but to the amazing innovation and aggressive marketing of so many American companies. I’m sitting writing this edition of Retirement Today on my MacBook Pro laptop. It’s an Apple product of course as is my phone. Since their near-death experience Apple has relentlessly developed new and better products and sold them aggressively. I’m sure my laptop was not made in America but the profits go back there regardless and they go with very little tax. Apple, like many other international companies, have been very cunning in making sure they pay as little tax as possible in high taxing countries like Australia. On that front, the world is catching up on them so hopefully the next time I buy an Apple product the appropriate amount of tax will flow to our coffers. Like most people around the world when I sit down to write I use Microsoft Word. I also use PowerPoint, that ubiquitous presentation tool and of course Excel. All part of the Office suite of programs from Microsoft. Is there anything else? I’ve just had to update my copy of Office as it was becoming troublesome and was not compatible with the latest Apple operating system. The updating process reminded me of just how much information these big international companies have on me. They told me in the license conditions about how much information they keep on me and then asked if I wanted to volunteer more! In order to download the updated version of Office I had to use Google because as soon as I put the update site into Safari up came Google. I don’t pay anything to Google but one way or another I’m sure they make a nice little profit out of my involvement. Google has become so ubiquitous that its name has become a verb in the English language. Google too knows a lot about me. What cars I like, where I go on Holiday, probably where I would like to go on holiday and no doubt what sort of food I like to eat. If you have any doubts about the amount Google knows about you try looking up something you have never looked up before like a caravan or powerboat. Then next time you open up Google to look for something you really want you will find lots of ads for powerboats and caravans. When you do get to the list in response to your search you can ignore the first page because it is sure to be full of attempts to divert you into a different direction or sell you something which you expected would be free. Google has been very successful in making itself indispensable. There are other search engines but there’s no doubt which is the dominant player. They too make a lot of money in Australia but pay very little tax. There are many more. Facebook spans the world and has become so extensive that it is embroiled in inquisitions regarding illegal interference in the US presidential elections. Twitter, a Facebook company and the favourite communication tool of Donald Trump was the biggest source of breaking news during Trumps election campaign. Facebook and Twitter are adding their contribution to the gathering in profits for America from around the world. Whether they are making “America Great Again” might be debated but they are certainly fueling the American economy Netflix, Ebay, Amazon, Mastercard, Visa, the list goes on and they don’t need a President to help them make the American coffers great. I was going to add Trivago but found that it is actually a German company, and Zamato which always crops up regardless of how I attempt to book a table at my favorite restaurant, but they are an Indian company. Good to see the rest of the world getting a look in. If, as retirees, we are going to be part of contemporary society we have to be using these companies whether we like them or not. There are problems with them, not the least being privacy, but there are tremendous advantages too. The next development is payment. I’m well and truly stuck in the now conventional world of payment using banking online or my credit card to deal with most issues but for many that is changing. I see more and more people using their phones to pay at the checkout. They could be paying through their bank but could also be using Apple Pay or Google Pay. They could even be using our very own Afterpay which was spotted early by Marcus and made a big contribution to the folios. Our banks have joined in the action by signing up with Apple but a tiny amount of a very large sum goes off to the US nonetheless. Our government along with many others is pursuing the tax avoidance so hopefully Josh will get some help in his quest to balance the budget. If you can’t beat them join them seems to be the theme and maybe that’s the way for Australian investors too. For the first 20 years Apple’s share price made only average progress but the gains in the last 15 years have been exponential. We could all have shared in the profits. Google known as Alphabet on the exchange has seen a similar phenomenal growth but it has been a rocky ride with two massive pull backs. We could have profited from that too. Some may say they have reached their peak but just as you think there is nothing more left to do they seem to find a new direction. It may still be worth joining in for the ride. Enjoy your Googling Harold If you would like to email Harold, please click here.