Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs vs. Ted Kennedy


"Now, here’s how to get oneself banned from polite company – use the occasion of someone’s death to score points.

But reflect for a moment on Steve Jobs. He took resources from no one. He coerced no one. He pandered to no one. He made hundreds of millions of people happy. He ended up being responsible for the creation of tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs, and inspired countless others to mimic him, or to beat him, or to otherwise complement his work. He asked for no special favors. He was adopted, and certainly was not dealt the best hand in the lottery of life. He blamed no one else for his failures. He shared in his successes. I would argue that this one man’s short life was far more important than a century’s worth of politicians who claim to be working in your interest.

Sure, tears are shed at the passing of “great” political leaders, and indeed some leaders have done a fine job of representing their constituents. But even the best political leaders are best at laying the foundations and groundwork so that remarkable people like Steve Jobs can flourish. That does not mean the work of good political leaders is unimportant – of course not — a cursory look across the planet to some dysfunctional countries confirms that. But it does mean that the general scorn applied to the entrepreneurs who have done so much to help us become healthy, wealthy and wise is disproportionately large given the scorn applied to a political class whose exclusive tool is to employ coercion (which again, is perhaps necessary, if unfortunate). 

Why are we able to appreciate the life of a Steve Jobs and to ignore the millions of others doing the same thing? And why is the default view of the political class more like the way Jobs himself is being treated today? Contrast what Jobs has done for the world with what Ted Kennedy did for the world. The reaction to Senator Kennedy’s death reminded me a bit of the reaction we are seeing today. Am I crazy for hearing these two reactions as discordant when played together?"

HT: Pete Friedlander

33 Comments:

At 10/07/2011 2:49 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Many people make false assumptions.

They've seen the growth of government and the rise in living standards.

So, they've assumed bigger government raises living standards.

A hundred years ago when the U.S. had strong deflationary growth and small government, Americans were much poorer than today.

However, it was inevitable living standards would rise over time. It was a question of how fast.

If government remained small, U.S. GDP would be much higher (from exponential growth).

And government may be larger today as a smaller proportion of a larger GDP.

 
At 10/07/2011 3:55 AM, Blogger juandos said...

I'm willing to bet that Steve Jobs never attempted to collaborate with an enemy spy service like Ted Kennedy did...

 
At 10/07/2011 6:05 AM, Blogger cluemeister said...

Let's see, one man created innovative, time saving, amazing devices that bring joy to millions.

The other left a woman in a car underwater, never notifying rescuers. She died.

 
At 10/07/2011 6:25 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Yeah, but Jobs was a liberal, so that's ok.

No, don't ask me how he managed to keep the two concepts separate, that seems to be one of the deeper mysteries of the functioning (if that's the word) of the libtard mind.

In addition to the midnight reset button, it manages to encompass an exceptionally low "Wisdom Quotient" with the MRB and with the kind of compartmentalization that would do a computer proud.

The typical libtard mind seems to be capable of keeping a vast array of mutually conflicting and excluding constructs in itself all at one time without having any overlap cause destruction of the one being used At The Moment.

Hence they can actually be fully and completely aware of the history of collectivist fascism in both Soviet Russia and Communist China, as well as the current state of it in places like North Korea, while still arguing that Marxism somehow can be made to work. A brain damgaged toad could put those facts together and realize the conflict, but the Libtard Brain is not thus constructed.

 
At 10/07/2011 6:29 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

comparing entrepreneurship to politics/government is an odd juxtaposition. especially if one might want to put that in a worldwide perspective.

how many great entrepreneurs have there been in countries without significant govt/civilization?

why is Apple in this country and not in Nambia or Thailand?

Jobs did not graduate from college but you can bet that he receive a good education paid for by taxes collected by govt.

You can bet that the majority of people who work at Apple got their STEM degrees from American govt-supported Universities, eh?

how many college dropouts could become entrepreneurs like Jobs did in countries like India and Afghanistan or Sudan?

 
At 10/07/2011 6:36 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

wintercow20: Contrast what Jobs has done for the world with what Ted Kennedy did for the world.

Just for the record, Jobs donated primarily to Democrats and supported Obama. By most estimations, he was a progressive.

{xposted to Broken Window}

 
At 10/07/2011 6:54 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Here's an interesting blog on Steve Jobs: Arab-American, Buddhist, Psychedelic Drug User, and Capitalist World-Changer
http://www.juancole.com/2011/10/steve-jobs-arab-american-buddhist-psychedelic-drug-user-and-capitalist-world-changer.html

 
At 10/07/2011 6:55 AM, Blogger Frozen in the North said...

I like Obloodyhell's comment! Talk about "Liberal" batting -- with zero effort. He's like put words together without meaning..

Hey Obloodyhell, make an effort next time, or take your medicine. Maybe the guys on Fox understand what your write.

It's embarrassing to see such bad writing, make an effort next time

 
At 10/07/2011 7:09 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Just for the record, Jobs donated primarily to Democrats....

Oh well [I type into my Mac as I wait for my ipad to charge].

 
At 10/07/2011 8:57 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Maybe the guys on Fox understand what your write ... It's embarrassing to see such bad writing ..." -- Frozen in the North

Must be a mind freeze.

 
At 10/07/2011 9:06 AM, Blogger Jon said...

"He took resources from no one."

Steve Jobs didn't use roads, or public schools. He didn't enjoy the benefits of the legal protection provided by the government, which protects his property. He made no use of the government funding that lead to advancements in computers, the internet, lasers. He never shipped his products in bulk with technology developed by the government. He never made use of commercial aviation, developed for the war. Never took a thing. Did it all on his own. All these complaining liberals looking for hand outs. They should earn their own money, like Steve Jobs did.

 
At 10/07/2011 9:29 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Jobs did not graduate from college but you can bet that he receive a good education paid for by taxes collected by govt." -- Larry

Thank you, Elizabeth Warren. Of course, you would be betting against the odds:

The City University of New York has long spent much of its energy and resources just teaching new students what they need to begin taking college-level courses. But that tide of remedial students has now swelled so large that ... about three-quarters of the 17,500 freshmen at the community colleges this year have needed remedial instruction in reading, writing or math, and nearly a quarter of the freshmen have required such instruction in all three subjects. In the past five years, a subset of students deemed “triple low remedial” — with the most severe deficits in all three subjects — has doubled ... fewer than half of all New York State students who graduated from high school in 2009 were prepared for college or careers, as measured by state Regents tests in English and math. In New York City, the proportion was 23 percent. Many of those graduates end up at CUNY, one of the nation’s largest urban higher-education systems, which requires its community colleges to take every applicant with a high school diploma or equivalency degree. -- The New York Times

But surely things improve once they are up to speed and taking those government subsidized college courses, right?

Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority, a new report shows ... Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills. After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change. Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows. -- USA Today

Yeah, where would the Bill Gates and the Steve Jobs of the world be without such a government subsidized labor pool? Of course, other business leaders haven't been so lucky:

(Reuters) - Workers with specialized skills like electricians, carpenters and welders are in critically short supply in many large economies, a shortfall that marks another obstacle to the global economic recovery, a research paper by Manpower Inc (MAN.N) concludes ... The shortage of skilled workers is the No. 1 or No. 2 hiring challenge in six of the 10 biggest economies, Manpower found in a recent survey of 35,000 employers. Skilled trades were the top area of shortage in 10 of 17 European countries, according to the survey ... Since the 1970s, parents have been told that a university degree -- and the entry it affords into the so-called knowledge economy -- was the only track to a financially secure profession. But all of the skilled trades offer a career path with an almost assured income, Joerres said, and make it possible to open one's own business ... Reuters

Hmmm, there seems to be a misallocation of resources; now that is something that the government truly excels at.

 
At 10/07/2011 9:38 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

jon-

you argument seems flawed. how is using roads or laws taking from others? did they get used up? did you have fewer roads or less legal protection?

you had all these same benefits, why didn't you found a company employing 10's of thousands and create 100's of billions in wealth?

you might as well blame me for not becoming a chef like mario battali because i could shop at the same supermarket.

building on the ideas of others is the nature of progress. everyhting works that way. we're all better off for the internal combustion engine. it built on the ideas of others before it. sure, every idea builds on previous ideas. that's pretty much a tautology, but it demonstrates nothing.

apple has never been a government vendor.

so what did apple take from you?

 
At 10/07/2011 9:45 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Steve Jobs didn't use roads, or public schools. He didn't enjoy the benefits of the legal protection provided by the government, which protects his property ... blah, blah, blah" -- Jon

You have used all of those things as well, how many jobs have you created? How much have you paid in taxes? How many innovative products or services have you developed? How much have you "paid forward for the next kid who comes along"? The fact that Jobs, or anyone else, has used the infrastructure that we as a society have built, and which he has contributed to building, to greater effect than others does not give you the right to single him out for plunder. Perhaps you should spend some time reading the founders, they would find your arguments abhorrent.

 
At 10/07/2011 10:11 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Larry,

"why is Apple in this country and not in Nambia or Thailand?"

Well, it's not because of cockroaches like Ted Kennedy.

 
At 10/07/2011 11:33 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

morganovich: you argument seems flawed. how is using roads or laws taking from others? did they get used up? did you have fewer roads or less legal protection?

Steve Jobs benefited from society and also contributed to it. It's not that difficult to understand.

 
At 10/07/2011 11:53 AM, Blogger Marko said...

I will take this one step further - how is it that the left (Baldwin, for example) love Steve Jobs, but they hate "Wall Street?" Would the genius at Apple (and I really think he was a genius) have been able to produce trendy toys for rich kids if it hadn't been for the other creative geniuses in the financial sector? Everyone talks about roads and other infrastructure, but hardly anyone talks about financial infrastructure. Is it because the guys that work on roads wear hardhats, and the bankers wear suits? Or is it just the ignorance of the left of how capitalism (and the world) really work?

The irony of the wall street occupiers protesting finance and corporations while talking on their iPhones is really delicious, but unfortunately lost on most.

 
At 10/07/2011 11:55 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

zach-

that's not what jon was arguing.

i'd suggest re reading what he wrote.

and steve gave back a helluva lot more than he took.

 
At 10/07/2011 11:56 AM, Blogger Seth said...

"Just for the record, Jobs donated primarily to Democrats and supported Obama. By most estimations, he was a progressive." -Zachriel

How is this relevant?

 
At 10/07/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger Seth said...

"you had all these same benefits, why didn't you found a company employing 10's of thousands and create 100's of billions in wealth?"
-morganovich

This is a key insight.

 
At 10/07/2011 1:18 PM, Blogger Jon said...

you had all these same benefits, why didn't you found a company employing 10's of thousands and create 100's of billions in wealth?

Roads, schools, interstate highways, shipping, computer development, internet development, legal protections. These are necessary conditions for the success Steve Jobs enjoyed, but not sufficient conditions.

I agree with Elizabeth Warren. Jobs deserves all kinds of credit. But to pretend he did it on his own without the contributions of others that went before him is silly and he probably knew it, which might partly explain why he was a progressive.

We don't see these kind of things coming out of Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa, the world's premier free market zones, with little to nothing by way of regulation, state provided social services, government funded development, etc. On right wing theory these should be the world leaders. John Galt will run to the Congo and show us all that if we'll hold him back he'll go where he isn't held back. Makes for a good story. Doesn't happen though. Strange that right wingers can't see that.

 
At 10/07/2011 1:40 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

morganovich: i'd suggest re reading what he wrote.

His point wasn't clear. Roads do get used up, and wealth entails its own security concerns.

Zachriel: Just for the record, Jobs donated primarily to Democrats and supported Obama. By most estimations, he was a progressive.

Seth: How is this relevant?

It was an aside ("Just for the record"), but politics are intrinsic to the original post.

Jon: Jobs deserves all kinds of credit. But to pretend he did it on his own without the contributions of others that went before him is silly and he probably knew it, which might partly explain why he was a progressive.

And he deserved the fruits of his labors, that is, his right to property and his right to manage that property to create and innovate.

 
At 10/07/2011 1:48 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

jon-

no one does anything all on their own.

even if you farm your own food and make your own house and clothes, unless you invented fire yourself too, you are suing someone else's ideas.

you got everyhting steve did.

why should he pay more than you do just because he used them better?

you wouldn't expect me to pay more than you do for the same groceries just because i am a better cook.

 
At 10/07/2011 1:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"His point wasn't clear. Roads do get used up, and wealth entails its own security concerns."

oh come now, you are grasping at straws. does steve use more roads that you do? and isn't he already paying for that in user pays taxes like gasoline and license fees?

i'll bet steve used fewer police assets than many project dwellers.

what's more, he never went on welfare, got medicaid, or was anywhere near needing them.

that was pure subsidy from him.

he pays more, and gets less, and many of those programs have nothing to do with him.

 
At 10/07/2011 2:08 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Some people, like Larry, seem to believe big government creates success.

Then why is the E.U. so far behind the U.S.?

Why were there so many great U.S. entrepreneurs before big government?

 
At 10/07/2011 2:20 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Jon wrote:

"We don't see these kind of things coming out of Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa, the world's premier free market zones..."

Jon and Larry G, the book The Birth of Plenty by William Bernstein, from Chapter One, in the section titled How Nations Become Wealthy states four foundations:

Property Rights that are not arbitrarily confiscated.

Scientific Rationalism or an infrastructure of rational thought, with the development and commercialization of ideas created.

Capital Markets.

Fast and efficient Communications and Transportation.

So, your citation of Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa is non-sensical.

We need to insure that these factors are kept in place to allow the opportunity for indivduals, like Steve Jobs, to succeed.

BTW, this was suggested reading by morganovich some time back and I found it compelling.

 
At 10/07/2011 2:28 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

morganovich: why should he pay more than you do just because he used them better?

Or maybe the powerful should collect taxes from the peasantry. What's wrong with that?

 
At 10/07/2011 2:32 PM, Blogger Jon said...

why should he pay more than you do just because he used them better?

The logic is as follows. The wealth of others was confiscated and the government stepped in and directed some developmental projects and these have made it POSSIBLE for those living in America to have enormous success. So try to have success yourself. We're not guaranteeing your success, but many of you will make it huge. Those that do make it huge give back some so that people in the future can have the same opportunity for success that we all had. Those that don't manage to have that much success still probably do well, but we don't ask as much back from them because they don't have as much of course.

Does that seem so unfair? Jobs wouldn't have had that success without the contributions of others. Why shouldn't he give back so that others have the same opportunities for success he had?

Then why is the E.U. so far behind the U.S.?

Europe has been gaining on the US.

 
At 10/07/2011 2:44 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Jon, when a government bureaucrat "earns" $50,000 to redistribute $20,000 for the poor (i.e. after paying the bureaucrat's salary, pension, health care, etc.), that's counted as GDP, although he didn't really produce anything.

 
At 10/07/2011 2:52 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Jon, you need to look at the U.S. and European real economies to see that Europe has not only lagged the U.S. for over a hundred years, it has lagged badly.

 
At 10/07/2011 3:49 PM, Blogger Jim said...

In view of the comments, let us view Jobs' career in a different light.

Jobs (mostly Wozniak) re-purposed technology to build a computer without a monitor, stole the graphic interface and the mouse from Xerox (who thought it was useless), and was an exorbitantly terrible boss and manager and friend (he was destroying Apple, which is why he was fired).

IOW, he saw potential for personal computers. Like Gates, in a very real sense he stole virtually all his technology from others and made it into something people loved.

This is the true nature of innovation; emergence. He is no different than the corporation that buys cheap, unproductive farm land from unsuspecting owners and grows rich from mining.

Interestingly, the socialists occupying Wall St. denigrate those firms as robber barons but herald Jobs. Why? Because he hung around in a commune when he was young? That surely did not prevent him from denying paternal responsibility for his bastard child even when he was becoming a millionaire. What happened to his progressives views in that instance?

We should celebrate Jobs for the lessons he leaves all of us. For he embodies the true nature of innovation as clearly as any other.

And the sooner we learn those lessons from this great man with feet of clay, the sooner we will innovate more quickly.

 
At 10/09/2011 11:17 AM, Blogger Spencer Organ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 10/09/2011 11:20 AM, Blogger Spencer Organ said...

It was a sad day for me on many levels. Coming from an education background I think that Apple and therefore SJ have done more to promote educational achievement than some politicians.

http://mruktechreviews.blogspot.com/2011/10/steve-jobs-in-pictures.html

 

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