Let Apple Donate the State Computer System


How do you find solutions? By putting two problems together.

Consider two recent California news items.

The first: the state has been unable to design and complete a new computer system. In the past week, the legislative analyst urged the state to go forward with the troubled project, albeit at a cost of $600 million.

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The second: Apple, a California-based company that is on many days the richest company in the world, has gone to great lengths to dodge paying its fair share of state income taxes. The New York Times reported recently on Apple's tax avoidance measures, which include opening an office in Reno, Nev., to process profits that might otherwise have been taxed in California.

OK, here comes the magic.

Now, on the current trajectory, the state can muddle along with its attempts to build a computer system, and Apple can battle with state officials and lawmakers who would be eager to collect more taxes.

So why not turn these lemons into lemonade?

Let Apple set up the computer system itself, handling what work it can and paying for the rest. Apple would get on the right side of taxpayers in its home state. And the state might have a computer system that actually works.

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Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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