Is it fair to compare the progress of international deal-making among government policymakers to the innovation cycle of a technology company headed by a man known as the company despot?
Perhaps not, but fairness and logic are not things that have ever stopped a politician from using a statistic, image or number to make a point.
During a Wednesday morning House hearing on boosting U.S. job growth through free trade, California Republican Mary Bono Mack (yes, Sonny Bono’s widow) berated the U.S. policymaking community for dragging its heels when it comes to completing free trade agreements.
Bono Mack, a noted member of the Cult of Mac, used Apple’s production cycle as a yard-stick to measure the lack of progress in completing any free trade agreements in the past few years.
In 2007, Apple introduced its first iPhone and Congress finally approved the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement after years of give-and-take. Since then, there have been three new generations of iPhones, two iPads and several new nano iPods — but not a single free trade agreement signed into law. Not one. So while American ingenuity zips along at millions of bits per second, America’s trade policies are stuck in the fax age. It’s time for an upgrade. Our subcommittee has a unique opportunity to roll out a new model for the future and to demonstrate leadership on this critically-important issue. But time is running out.
The speed at which Apple’s management teams operate is the envy of all in the business world: Just the other day, I was having a discussion with a friend who was privately admiring the speed at which the small teams over there make decisions.
It’s a gift, and hard to pull off, but comparing it to policymaking that affects the fates of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world, not to mention the complex politics associated with these kinds of deals just seems a bit of a stretch.
Perhaps a more appropriate comparison might have been with the time it took to create the North American Free Trade Agreement. That took six years in itself.
The ultimate irony of the use of Apple in Bono’s opening statement for the hearing is that the manufacturing for Apple’s products doesn’t even occur in the United States.