“It’s called capitalism,” was Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s reaction to the criticism that Google has an intricate mechanism for avoiding paying much UK tax.
With such an attitude you’d think Schmidt would regard a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work was also capitalism’.
It is emerging from a Californian court presided over by the redoubtable Judge Lucy Koh, who decided some of the Apple-Samsung lawsuits, that Schmidt, Intel’s Paul Otellini and Steve Jobs agreed a ‘no poaching’ agreement not to hire eachothers’ employees.
It seems that Schmidt and Otellini knew this was illegal because of an email from Schmidt in which he says he wants it handled “verbally, since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later” and an email from Otellini which says: “We have nothing signed. We have a handshake ‘no recruit’ between Eric and myself. I would not like this broadly known”.
So evading tax, in Schmidt’s book, is ‘capitalism’ and OK, but moving jobs to get better pay is not OK and, presumably, not within Schmidt’s definition of capitalism
The legal issue now being decided by Judge Koh is whether employees of Apple, Google and Intel can bring a class action lawsuit against their companies for restricting their right to work.
But whatever the legal issue, the spectacle of three of the richest companies in the world getting together to restrict peoples’ right to work, and to get fully paid for their work, is discreditable.
As Elizabeth I’s Chancellor, Francis Bacon, said: “The higher a man climbs, the more he shows his arse.”
Otellini, Jobs and Schmidt climbed high, showed their arses, and it’s not a pretty sight.