With Steve Jobs announcing his withdrawal from Apple, a rush of Apple nostalgia took over Twitter and the blogsphere. Looking back over the past 40 years, it is dazzling to review how much Jobs contributed to the big dream of business with products, marketing and sheer design, never mind the unique style of his turtle neck and jeans. For those who never knew the IBM suit, they do not get the extreme irony and ballsy marketing genius of how Jobs signalled that Apple was not a faceless, uncaring corporation.
Jobs is the epitome of Capitalism, the Ford of our day.
Steve Jobs managed to achieve irony with his retirement coming a few days before Ben Bernanke’s speech on US jobs, which many supporters of big government continue to believe creates the wealth of a nation.
Here is a superb column by Peter Foster talking about this very contrast – Jobs, the Capitalist and Bernanke, the Government.
U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke invited a fundamental question: where do jobs come from: Macworld or Macro management? Are both necessary, or does the latter in fact hinder the former?
Mr. Jobs retires having created a company that vies with ExxonMobil for the position of most valuable corporation in American history, with a market value of more than US$300-billion and 50,000 employees. It is indirectly responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs elsewhere, from Korean computer chip manufacturers through high-street retailers to app developers. It also supports many unproductive — if arguably necessary — jobs in the public sector, from regulators through revenue collectors to, well, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
The great French economist Jean-Baptiste Say coined “Say’s Law,” which points out that what brings forth production can only be the production of other items. It was the wages Mr. Jobs paid directly and indirectly as part of his productive activity that created — and continues to create — demand. However, if you believe the claims of Keynesian policymakers, although Mr. Jobs and his ilk might be useful “animal spirits,” when times are rough, jobs have to be created from above. Apple will then thrive, or at least continue to exist, not because of Mr. Jobs and his sensational products, but because the government will send people down to the Apple store “with money in their pockets.” The implications of the fact that this money must be either taxed, borrowed or printed tends to be ignored or glossed over. After all, in the long run, we are all dead.
In fact, Mr. Jobs’ amazing concrete achievements contrast markedly with Mr. Bernanke’s vague hopespeak at Jackson Hole on Friday. The one genuinely bright note in the Fed chairman’s speech was that price stability remained a top priority. That is likely why North American markets responded positively. Then again, the fact that gold also rose suggested that gold bugs were concentrating on his suggestion that he still had inflationary “tools” at his disposal, although these had to be boxed for the moment.
Mr. Bernanke’s claim that “long-run prospects for the U.S. are undiminished” made little sense, because those prospects depend entirely on the outcome of the political battles now taking place in Washington, which will culminate in next year’s presidential election.
Mr. Bernanke invoked the vague notion of “putting people back to work,” as if work was some undifferentiated lump of stuff that arose out of employment statistics rather than the result of specific jobs created by entrepreneurs in pursuit of profit. He suggested that policymakers shouldn’t leave productive resources “fallow,” as if those resources were, again, macroeconomic blobs that merely needed the application of government electrodes to jump to useful life. Housing? What was needed was “good, proactive” policies. He also projected adjectival success for European policymakers, who would take the “necessary and appropriate steps.”
This is all wishful thinking and macromancy.
If you want to know where jobs come from, look at the record of Mr. Jobs. Apple’s success is based on his relentless drive to produce new and/or superior products, from the first Apple computer, which he developed in the proverbial garage with his partner Steve Wozniak, through the Mac, the iPhone, the iPad and offshoots such as iTunes and Apple stores. During a period away from Apple, Mr. Jobs built animation wunderkind Pixar and sold it to Disney, of which he is now the largest shareholder.
I particularly appreciated Peter Foster's ability to try and show people why there are business leaders - they just keep trying. Jobs got fired from his first company, Apple, in a public manner. He was like the Phoenix rising from the ashes and he succeeded in returning to his first company and taking it far beyond anything its finest engineers' dreams.
I do believe being a business founder and operator draws a great deal from health and long term survival of leading business people. So many of the best people seem to go early.