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  1. Business

Letters: Readers comment on business news

Gas prices keep rising Aug. 22

What a scam!

Looks like the oil companies have found a way to boost profits again. Gas prices went up 20 cents overnight because of speculation that OPEC "might" decide to cut production in a future meeting! They haven't even had the meeting yet. What a scam. Of course Congress has never slapped the oil companies with price-rigging penalties because the oil lobby has its hands in the pockets of every member.

Rick Cort, Tampa

Apple back taxes | Aug. 30

Redress sought from wrong party

The decision by the European Commission against Apple comes, in general, as no surprise. Ever since Ireland's decision to allow larger companies to do business for a lower tax rate, a good fiscal move for the country at the time, this decision has been coming down the pipeline. However, the specifics of the decision raise several troubling questions for the future of international business relations and the EU itself.

While I am happy to concede that 0.005 percent is a ludicrously low tax rate for any company, it does not change the fact that, at the time it was negotiated, Ireland had the authority to do so, with certain provisions. Part of the European Commission's decision was that Ireland must seek the retroactively accounted taxes that Apple ''should'' have paid. Whether or not the actual accounting is accurate is irrelevant for my purposes. What is relevant is that the European Commission is overturning a national policy that has already ended, and seeking redress from the wrong party. In 1991, when Ireland first made this decision, it unquestionably had the authority to do so. In 2007, when Ireland reaffirmed its tax decision, the authority seemed less firm, but still, de facto, present. If there was a conflict between the national tax policy and the international economic agreement, it falls clearly on the shoulders of Ireland to realign its policies to fit the new expected economic order. It did not. So, either Irish officials believed that their national policy did align with the international agreement, or they did not care. Either way, the buck stops with Ireland to rectify the blunder, assuming there was one. Ultimately, it seems iffy, at best, for the European Commission to seek redress from a past policy (recall that Apple restructured in 2015, thus ending its tax deal with Ireland), however, if the European Commission insists on enforcing its decision regarding unfair tax practices, then it should seek redress from Ireland, and not the company(ies) that acted in good faith with the Irish government.

The European Commission is overcorrecting here. While previous decisions about keeping member states in line have been soft and light, this decision ignores the sovereignty of Ireland and overreaches through the national level of economic authority. If the European Commission wants to take on a stronger role in European economics, or if the European Commission feels the need to single out specific national decisions for censure, then that is fine. However, it needs to do so in a proactive manner, not retroactively; time travel is impossible even for legal decisions.

Regardless, does anyone really think that Apple will actually pay?

Steven C. Starke, St. Petersburg

Mylan EpiPen | Aug. 30

Firm makes other expensive generics

I recognized Mylan as the manufacturer of the Diltiazem that I take for atrial fibrillation, and that drug is also expensive even though it's a "generic." I thought it ironic that not only my drug but the EpiPen is in the news. Apparently Mylan has a system to keep its drugs in the upper echelon of pricing. If I hadn't seen the recent article about the company, I don't think I'd have made the connection, but the connection has been made.

I'd love to audit their books to see what they're really getting from the sales of either drugs.

Get real!

Robert Coonrad, St. Petersburg

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