Apple’s Tim Cook and his slightly surprising support for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act

“Tim Cook of Apple has called in the Wall Street Journal for Congress to just get on with it and pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act,” Tim Worstall writes for Forbes. “The language of the letter suggests (he uses ‘we’ but he is the only signatory) that this is Apple’s corporate view not just his alone as an individual. The slightly surprising thing about this support is that while the discrimination itself is wrong opposing it might not be in Apple’s direct best interests.”

“Typically economists like to split discrimination into parts, rational and taste. Rational discrimination is just that, rational. We’d probably not select a quadriplegic as a waiter, someone math ignorant as a quant in a hedge fund, an illiterate as a print journalist: these are all obvious and logical examples of where the natural endowments of an individual make them unsuitable for a specific job or task. It’s thus entirely rational for us to discriminate in this manner, even sensible for us to do so,” Worstall writes. “Taste discrimination is another matter and it is this that most people associate with the word discrimination unadorned. People making unreasonable distinctions on the basis of sex, gender, race or other such attributes.”

Worstall writes, “Clearly, Apple benefits from not discriminating. But equally clearly, Apple benefits from whatever discrimination happens elsewhere, as [American economist Gary Becker] has explained. Because, to whatever extent that discrimination does happen elsewhere, this increases the number of talented people that Apple can hire.”

Much more – including concern over unintended consequences – in the full article here.

Related article:
Tim Cook: Workplace equality is good for business; one reason why congress should support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act – November 4, 2013


  1. “Worstall writes, “Clearly, Apple benefits from not discriminating. But equally clearly, Apple benefits from whatever discrimination happens elsewhere, as [American economist Gary Becker] has explained. Because, to whatever extent that discrimination does happen elsewhere, this increases the number of talented people that Apple can hire.”

    I’m just trying to wrap my head around the above. What does that even mean?

    Yes, I can read so let’s not get ignorant about my comment.

    1. It simply means that
      IF there are some smart, talented people in the LGBT class,

      AND 50% (hypothetical) of companies will not hire them

      THEN there will be half as much demand for those individuals’ skills.

      ERGO they can be hired for less than market value (lower demand = lower salary requirements).

      So non-discriminating companies get a bargain on smart LGBT talent by sitting quietly and letting other companies discriminate.

      It’s bad for the LGBT individuals, but it’s good for Apple, financially. See my earlier post.. it’s a valid economics-in-a-vaccuum idea, but not in a working world of perception, ethics, PR, etc.

  2. Fact is, as a Homosexual, Cook has reached the pinnacle of succes without such laws in place. But you really have to appreciate the hypocrisy of people on the Left attaching the rich when they themselves are neck-deep in wealth, underpay their ‘masses’ while overcompensating those at the top and all in the name of enriching shareholders. The only thing dumber than a rich Leftist is a poor Leftist. And speaking of hypocrisy, it’s amazing to see the hate from the Left for those that oppose their homosexual agenda. “Homophobia” is defined as hate or fear of homosexuality (some definitions add “extreme”), yet to simply oppose out of simple common sense the idiotic idea of same-sex marriage is an equal rights issue and to be labeled ‘homophobic’ and receive hateful comments shows an almost ironic hypocrisy. We need a new term, how about “heterophobic” or “conservativephobic” to label such idiocy???

    1. Wow…where should I start.

      Your first sentence:
      Cook has reached the pinnacle of succes (sic)…

      reminds me of my undergrad Finance professor’s Shiny Penny, Smelly Turd’ theorum which states that any minority who has achieved success will be used as an example of Why Not to ‘grant’ civil rights, while any example of unacceptable behavior will likewise be used as reason to continue to stigmatize and discriminate.

      The rest if your post was galactically inchoate…well done your side!

  3. At an old job, I overheard management talking about a news story, about one the first legally married gay couples in the US getting a divorce. They all had a surly attitude about it – kind of like, “serves ’em right, those idiots.”

    I was genuinely confused and asked, “Hows that any different than a straight couple divorcing?”

    The response I got was, “Because they’re fags.” That really hit me hard and I did not feel like working there much longer. I’m not gay or anything – I happen to be a straight white man – but that really should not have anything to do with getting basic human dignity and rights.

    1. Umm Europe has not settled anything have you seen what’s happening in soccer and in the news in England Alone, then look at Russia. , I side with Russia but the media distorted it’s stance, the original motion was to put a stop to the thought police and having the general public have the gay agendas forced down everyone’s throat from kindergarten on forward they have been inundated with this forced at them, who wants anyone’s beliefs fored up one them? , no one should force their beliefs on another.

      In America try to say anything about Christ at work and you are a fool, bible thumper, crazy conservative etc etc and tossed aside or threatened to be fired, run through offices screaming I’m gay and everyone’s supposed to applaud?

      1. Incorrect about Russia. In recent years there has been a concerted effort by the Russian authorities to stop referring to gay people as gay people and instead refer to them officially as “deviants”, a category also used for rapists and paedophiles. This has led to a surge of vigilante attacks against LGBT people across the Russian Federation, where the victims, if they survive the attack itself (many don’t), are too scared to report to the authorities because the police have been taught to blame the victim. In some cases the police have actually stood by and watched whilst the attack takes place.

        As with most things in Russia, what Putin and his allies will tell you is a distortion of the truth, not the entire truth. Russia is on a precipice, it’s close to dissolving. Putin’s thugs in the government openly steal people’s assets, intimidate all opposition, and now are busy creating scapegoats in order to try and prevent the country falling to pieces.

        And you side with this? In that case I dare you to go and live there for a bit. I promise you it’ll sicken you into leaving pretty quickly.

    2. Yeah, that’s why people are tearing across the borders to live there, huh…. That’s the place people most cite as the place they want to live…Europe. America left behind the idiocy of those countries more than two centuries ago for good reason.

  4. This is not the difference between rational v taste it is discrimination vs unsuitable or unqualified. If a person is physically incapable of doing a job i.e. the quadriplegic waiter (baring some type of prosthetic) not hiring them is not discrimination, nor is not hiring either of the other two scenarios. Not hiring a fully qualified applicant because they are black or gay or female that is discrimination.

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