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Apple has more money than Uncle Sam

The U.S. Treasury declares that it has reserves of $73.768 billion. Apple, on the other hand, has $75.876 billion. Should Steve Jobs be brought in to solve the debt crisis?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

During these lonely nights of wondering what will happen to America's vast indebtedness, I am sure that several of you have been wishing that Steve Jobs would sort out this mess.

It seems clear that he might be very direct, tell everyone just how it's going to be and even ensure that the economy doesn't merely function, but also looks good.

You might think I am not being serious. But consider that, thanks to my regular reading of the Financial Post, you might now learn that Apple has more cash than the U.S. government.

The U.S Treasury told the world on Thursday that it has $73.768 billion stashed away in various shoes and socks. Apple, on the other hand, in its latest and most fascinating quarterly earnings disgorgement, casually mentioned that it has $75.876 billion lying around.

"So here's what we're going to do. We're going to have a weekly referendum by iPhone." James Martin/CNET

I am not entirely sure how these figures compare with, for example, the Mafia. However, it seems that Google, which seems like the ultimate cash business, merely has $39.1 billion to spend on, um, new ideas about social networking.

Microsoft used to have more than that. At the end of 2010, its nest egg seems to have numbered $40.23 billion. But its $8.5 billion emotional commitment to Skype may have cut into that.

I am told that the U.S. government's figure is a little less descriptive than Apple's. After all, the government can just print some more dollars using old machines whenever it feels like it. Apple has to make new machines in order to add to its coffers.

I am not among those who believe that government should be run like a business. No CEO has even been elected in a popularity contest. And I fear if some CEOs were to run the country, they would think nothing of eliminating vast numbers of citizens without so much as a batted eyelid.

Still, there is something delicious about the idea that when politicians are behaving with a even greater idiocy than the norm, someone like Jobs might be called in to offer a helping word or two.

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Surely, whatever politics you might still believe in, you would enjoy the kind of attitude that Jobs reportedly showed George Bodenheimer, the CEO of the highly political organization known as ESPN.

As related in the book "Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN", Jobs encountered Bodenheimer at a Disney board meeting.

The authors describe the scene that ensued: "'I am George Bodenheimer,' he said to Jobs. 'I run ESPN.' Jobs just looked at him and said nothing other than 'Your phone is the dumbest f****** idea I have ever heard,' then turned and walked away."

The phone in question, you might remember, resulted in a loss to ESPN and Disney of some $135 million.

Wouldn't it be pleasant to enjoy a government where someone was able to identify the good ideas from the bad with at least 50 percent accuracy and then, let's be idealist, put those ideas into action?