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How Apple could share the wealth

Commuters visit the Apple store in the main

Commuters visit the Apple store in the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal. (Jan. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Natan Dvir

Apple Inc. has recently come under attack for its practice of stockpiling cash. At the end of last year, the company was sitting on $137 billion -- and the heap keeps growing.

Corporations normally don't hoard cash the way Apple does. They keep enough around for immediate needs and invest the rest in operations or give it to shareholders in dividends.

The money belongs to shareholders, so Apple is limited in what it can legally do with it. Leaving legality aside, here are some things Apple could do with $137 billion:

Give every American a check for $437.

Buy 213 million iPhones at the average wholesale price, enough for every American east of the Mississippi River, plus Texas.

Based on market value at Thursday's close, Apple could acquire Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, Netflix, Pandora, BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion), Yahoo, Yelp, Zillow and Zynga -- and still have $2 billion to spare.

Buy 100,000 luxury Manhattan apartments, enough to house the population of Omaha.

Foot the bill for U.S. federal spending on education for two years.

Give every Apple employee a bonus of $1.7 million.

Double U.S. foreign economic aid to the developing world for three and half years.

Provide shareholders with a one-time dividend of $145 per share.

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