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Steve Jobs’ Vision of America

[ 106 ] November 4, 2011 |

When Steve Jobs met with President Obama in 2010, Jobs told the president that he would only get one term:

You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.

If China is our model, is this how Steve Jobs saw America’s future? “We found that across the four Chinese-owned copper mines in Zambia, there were persistent labor abuses, particularly in regards to health and safety, long hours of work and anti-union activities,” said Matt Wells, with Human Rights Watch in Lusaka, summarizing the more than 100-page report.”

Or what about this? “Dozens of miners have been trapped in a coal mine in China after a “rock burst”, officials say.
Four miners were killed and 50 more are missing after the accident, which happened late on Thursday in the city of Sanmenxia in Henan province.”

Or this?

Or should I be saying anything negative about National Hero and Demigod Steve Jobs at all? After all, with him not around to give our lives of ennui meaning through gadgets, what’s the point of living? Clearly, worker death and pollution is a worthy model so long as I can download a new app every day!

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  1. wiley says:

    O.K. That does it— Steve Jobs was a prick.

    • Leeds man says:

      He didn’t get where he was by not being a prick (after C.J. in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin).

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Perhaps, but the prick=success thing should absolutely not be used as an excuse for this antisocial behavior. Steve Jobs wanted to make the majority of Americans lives worse so that the wealthy could buy more of his products.

        • Leeds man says:

          The prick=success thing is a property of “success” as defined in our culture. Anyone who uses it as an excuse is also a prick.

        • mpowell says:

          Actually this is probably wrong. Just because Jobs was really good at a few things doesn’t mean he was really that smart of a man. His company really needs to sell products to more than the 1%. Really the majority of the US market is the target for their products. In a global sense, this is the top 10% or so. I think he believed that this is the sort of thing that America really needed to financially benefit the majority of Americans. But that’s because he was exactly the kind of @sshole who really believes in all that trickle down, smash the unions bullsh@t that the right has been peddling for over 30 years now. You have to be a mean old f*ck to believe in that stuff, but for those that really do, somehow they do believe it’s for the best.

          • wiley says:

            This is what gets me—when unions were strongest in the U.S., our economy was the shit. We rocked. Every country in the world wanted to buy our products because they were quality products that would last for life, that looked good, and were user friendly. People could even make a decent living repairing these products because they were made that way and hardware was standardized. (We should have switched to the metric system in the seventies, though.)

            Then planned obsolescence came along. Who did that benefit?

            The anti-regulation, union busting screed protects NOTHING but PROFIT. Nothing. It is antisocial.

            It should be just too painfully fucking obvious that the only way to have a lot of spendy consumers is to have a lot of people with good wages. But NOOOOOOOOOOO, we have to pretend that owners and stockholders are victims that can only succeed by screwing both the workers and the consumers.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

              Even Henry Ford, who was a prick among pricks and a raging antisemite, to boot, understood this.

              That’s what’s so fascinating about the dogmatic neoliberalism (in the David Harvey sense of the word) among today’s power elite. It doesn’t actually maximize the effectiveness of capitalism. And, even in the medium run, it can put the fortunes of the 5% (if not the 1%) in a considerable amount of jeopardy.

              The attachment to a race-to-the-bottom model of economics is pure ideology.

              • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

                To be clear: Ford understood that capital needed a broad consumer class with money to spend.

                He most certainly didn’t think you need unions to achieve it.

                He was, after all, an enormous prick.

        • DrDick says:

          Actually, you generally do have to be a prick to succeed in business as you have to be willing to lie, cheat, steal, rape, loot and pillage without compunction and frankly, Apple, along with Microsoft, has been rather notorious for that.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think that assessment was ever really in doubt, though, was it? I think it was pretty well-known that he was kind of a jerk, and that was actually seen as one of the reasons why he was so successful.

      • Ed says:

        I don’t think that assessment was ever really in doubt, though, was it? I think it was pretty well-known that he was kind of a jerk, and that was actually seen as one of the reasons why he was so successful.

        By his apologists, yes. Jobs’ jerkiness appears to have gone above and beyond the call of Success, however, and said apologists have proffered the fact of Jobs’ adoption as an excuse for his unpleasant behavior. Some adoptees have objected to this line of defense for obvious reasons.

        I imagine that one of the downsides of Obama’s job is that he has to listen to megalomaniacs like Jobs prattle on like this and complain that he’s not being nice enough to the likes of him.

        • LoriK says:

          said apologists have proffered the fact of Jobs’ adoption as an excuse for his unpleasant behavior.

          Seriously? How did I miss that? Count me as one of the adoptees who strenuously objects to the idea that being adopted made Jobs and jerk or is an excuse for Jobs being a jerk.

          God, what an asshole thing for someone to say.

        • Jon H says:

          “said apologists have proffered the fact of Jobs’ adoption as an excuse for his unpleasant behavior.”

          Citations please.

    • Vance Maverick says:

      The same anecdote shows him to have been a prick on a merely personal level as well — insisting that the President ask him for a meeting, rather than vice versa.

  2. mark f says:

    Lisa: You exploited peoples’ deepest beliefs just to sell your cheesy wares! Well we are outraged! Aren’t we?

    Chief Wiggum: Oh, uh, yeah, I guess so, but look at all the stores! A Pottery Barn!

  3. Bart Pitts says:

    As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

    If China is our model, is this how Steve Jobs saw America’s future? “We found that across the four Chinese-owned copper mines in Zambia, there were persistent labor abuses, particularly in regards to health and safety, long hours of work and anti-union activities,” said Matt Wells, with Human Rights Watch in Lusaka, summarizing the more than 100-page report.”

    I’m missing the connection.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Regulations=(in large part) labor law and environmental law. These are the twin reasons why companies choose to move their operations overseas.

      • Vance Maverick says:

        Now arguably the Zambia story tells us not about “China” but that Chinese corporations behave just like any others when they operate overseas. But that’s just two layers of the problem — Jobs wanted the undemocratic “pro-business” policies exemplified by Chinese businesses operating in China, AND the exploitation of economic leverage without accountability exemplified by Chinese businesses operating in Zambia.

          • Vance Maverick says:

            I could have sworn I saw a trolling comment accusing you of having written these words on a keyboard made in China, but it’s not here now. Sorry you deleted it (if indeed you did), because there’s a valid issue there, though the commenter was using it only to score a debater’s point.

            It’s a simple fact that a progressive will live a life based to some extent on the kinds of conditions he or she wants to change. Or to rephrase, the better economy or polity we imagine will have to be built in some way on top of the one we’ve got — which doesn’t sound quite so hypocritical.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              This kind of issue comes up so frequently, I feel like people should have a clear sense of the answer by now. But since not, here it is again. A) there are no alternatives to China-made keyboards. If there were, I would buy them. B) People in China need jobs too. But they need jobs that pay well and don’t make them sick. C) There is an assumption that we are goods are cheap because they are made in China. While this is a little bit true, the real winners in China-made good are neither consumers nor the Chinese but rather investors in multinational corporations. When people talk about costs going up if conditions improve, it’s because it goes without saying that cutting into profit is not acceptable so they’ll have to pass it on to consumers.

              To say that one should not complain about Chinese labor conditions because all keyboards are made in China is the equivalent of one saying to an abolitionist in 1855 that you are silly to oppose slavery since you are wearing slave-grown cotton.

              • BradP says:

                Do you have a study that would give an idea of how much of a markup is occurring and/or what sort of inefficiencies are causing said margin between cost and price?

              • dangermouse says:

                it’s because it goes without saying that cutting into profit is not acceptable so they’ll have to pass it on to consumers.

                Also, too, the assumption that businesses are perfectly able to pass costs on to consumers.

              • Ed Schneiderman says:

                For example, here’s a short client list for Foxconn (who so far as I know operate no copper mines), taken from Wikipedia:

                Acer Inc. (Taiwan)
                Amazon.com (United States)
                Apple Inc. (United States)
                ASRock (Taiwan)
                Intel (United States)
                Cisco (United States)
                Hewlett-Packard (United States)
                Dell (United States)
                Nintendo (Japan)
                Nokia (Finland)
                Microsoft (United States)
                MSI (Taiwan)
                Motorola (United States)
                Sony Ericsson (Japan/Sweden)
                Vizio (United States)

                Any time Apple gets called out for Foxconn’s conditions the others are indicted as well. I suppose it should be flattering for Apple and Jobs to be expected to provide the visionary leadership necessary to fundamentally re-cast the economic system of a foreign sovereign country (though that notion comes from people who would likely despise Apple all the more were they to succeed at it), but surely all the above share a responsibility at least equal to Apple’s. And as these companies’ customers we’re all complicit in what the more righteous of us call slave labor. (Microsoft uses US prison labor for packaging services, btw.)

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Look, I’m happy to call out all of those companies. I’m calling out Jobs because he told Obama to his face that America needed to adopt the business practices of China. If I hear of the CEOs of these other companies doing the same, I will talk about it.

                  Moreover, the fact that everyone does it is a common and very lame excuse that has been used by companies since the beginning of the labor movement.

                • justaguy says:

                  “Apple and Jobs to be expected to provide the visionary leadership necessary to fundamentally re-cast the economic system of a foreign sovereign country”

                  That’s absurd. The people who run factories in China abuse workers because doing so allows them to bring costs down. Most factories run on very thin profit margins because of pressure by clients to deliver inexpensive goods, and because of inflation. Paying employees who make iphones a living wage wouldn’t entail changing China’s entire economic system. It would entail paying slightly more per unit on an iPhone.

              • BradP says:

                When people talk about costs going up if conditions improve, it’s because it goes without saying that cutting into profit is not acceptable so they’ll have to pass it on to consumers.

                Its actually because profit margins have reached their lowest acceptable level OR new entrants are in some way barred from breaking in and undercutting them.

                Its almost always the second.

              • wiley says:

                This is what I want: If a U.S. company wants to move to China or Maylaysia, or wherever to capitalize on cheap labor; then they need to change their address, become a Chinese or Maylaysian, or wherever company and get off our tit. I’ll stand on shore, wish them well, and wave goodbye. They can answer to other governments and the people whose labor they will depend on— and not use the name “America” or “United States” while moving American jobs and American money overseas. If a Chinese worker cuts one of these CEOs heads off, it’s not our problem. It’s not an international incident. It’s the company’s problem. Maybe they shouldn’t have been such assholes, huh?

                If some Americans or configurations of Americans want to compete with that expatriated company by paying labor well, adhering to strong environmental and safety standards, having high standards of quality and workmanship, providing helpful and access-able customer service, proving warranties and guarantees that they can keep, and putting more money into genuine R & D and growth than shareholders and CEOs— well that’s just the free market doing it’s magical work, and that’s how a lot of European countries do it. Look at Germany. A person doesn’t get to take a bigger piece of pie than they’ve earned so the company remains top-notch, viable, and profitable.

                • wiley says:

                  Like the U.S. used to do. “Made in America” meant “well-made” and people the world over wanted what we were building. We still manufacture a lot, we’re no slouch, but I’d like to see us make more domestic products for domestic consumption, and provide decent jobs doing so.

              • Tucker says:

                While I entirely agree with your larger point, regarding keyboards specifically there’s an alternative: Unicomp bought the old IBM Model M design, and the keyboard factory in Lexington KY, and is currently making USB versions of The Best Keyboard Ever. (“technically nonsense but collectively true”?)

              • Jon H says:

                “B) People in China need jobs too. But they need jobs that pay well and don’t make them sick. ”

                It would be interesting to know a) how long do Foxconn assembly line workers stay at Foxconn on average, and b) does having worked at Foxconn, or on Apple products, “look good on the resume” so to speak, helping some ex-Foxconn workers get better, safer jobs later.

                Is there mobility, or is the typical Foxconn worker stuck there in that nasty environment for as long as Foxconn needs them, after which the worker is stuck without a job?

        • DrDick says:

          Well, there are also all those prison factories in China. Their general treatment of workers these days is also pretty shitty.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      Hmmm…
      Did you try to read the very next paragraph?

      I hope you don’t ever try to use mass transportation.
      Like thinking in a logical manner, sometimes connections are necessary.

      • BradP says:

        Yes, I just don’t think that labor and environmental protection requires onerous regulation and fees. I also think the difference between standards in China and the US are due more to common practices and expectations (and the stickiness thereof), than to regulatory oversight.

        Regulations lag behind expectations and generally exist to prevent extraordinary deviation from expected behavior.

        Basically, Erik has a long way to go to prove that “US – Regulation = China”. Same with Steve Jobs, for that matter.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Yes, I just don’t think that labor and environmental protection requires onerous regulation and fees.

          Good news, neither do we! I’m all for getting rid of genuinely onerous regulations, which do exist. But I suspect that our definitions of onerous differ…

          Basically, Erik has a long way to go to prove that “US – Regulation = China”.

          Ahem.

          • BradP says:

            Basically, Erik has a long way to go to prove that “US – Regulation = China”.

            Ahem.

            Goodness, Mal.

            You are linking me to a public health piece from HuffPost that includes these:

            Researchers are still trying to figure out whether Pennsylvania’s river discharges, at their current levels, are dangerous to humans or wildlife. Several studies are under way, some under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency.

            Industry representatives and the state’s top environmental official insist that the wastewater from fracking has not caused serious harm anywhere in Pennsylvania, in part because it is safely diluted in the state’s big rivers. But most of the largest drillers say they are taking action and abolishing river discharges anyway.

            as evidence that “US – Regulation = China”?

            Hold on while I find an article on LewRockwell.com that shows that US + Bretton Woods = Zimbabwe.

        • Warren Terra says:

          I also think the difference between standards in China and the US are due more to common practices and expectations (and the stickiness thereof), than to regulatory oversight.

          Complete, utter bullcrap. The duty of corporations to their stockholders is to be as conscienceless and rapacious as they can get away with, and exploit the hell out of unpriced externalities. I mean, in a way it’s almost touching that you think the delicate sensibilities of our society will prevent another Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Me, I’d rather put my faith in the regulators.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            And given that mining disasters happen monthly in China on the equal of the Triangle fire, I think having faith in regulators makes a lot more sense.

          • BradP says:

            The duty of corporations to their stockholders is to be as conscienceless and rapacious as they can get away with, and exploit the hell out of unpriced externalities.

            But they don’t exist in a vacuum.

            The Chinese government has a stranglehold on information flows, and Chinese society has not formed the expectations of behavior that developed economies have…um… developed.

            A thought experiment to show my point:

            What effect would the free flow of information throughout China have on human rights abuses in that country? What would happen to public opinion if a Chinese company moved over here and maintained the same sort of treatment of their workers?

            • Warren Terra says:

              It’s overly generous to call that a thought experiment. Sure, the damage inflicted by rapacious exploiters is hushed up in China, because it’s easier on the exploiters and their powerful friends that way. But your first-half-of-a-thought-experiment seems to assume that if the populace were made thoroughly aware of their exploitation, there would be a consequence, and you seem to have overlooked a couple of rather critical points:
              1) Who says the populace is ignorant? I mean, do you really think the people getting lousy pay, the people coughing their lungs out, the young women getting raped by their supervisors, the laborers driven to suicide are happily skipping along, convinced they live in the best of all possible worlds? They may not know the whole story, but they’re not unaware there’s a problem.
              2) Let’s say that the knowledge of their plight did suddenly come upon them, striking like a thunderbolt. Let’s say they found the situation intolerable, and more importantly, found a voice. You seem to suggest that the resulting social consciousness would achieve a gestalt in which the corporate exploiters would spontaneously and without futher reason feel compelled to behave better in the region. Somehow, the possibility that the causes of social unrest would be assuaged by imposing regulation doesn’t occur to you. It really ought to occur to you; it (or more extreme versions of “regulation”, such as violent unrest and expropriation) is the only way such a movement has achieved change in the past.

            • DrDick says:

              Once again you appear to exhibit a profound ignorance of history and of the realities of actual industrial practices in the present (at least when they can get away with it). In the absence of strong regulation, the situation would likely be worse here than in China, as it pretty much was before the passage of the EPA.

        • dangermouse says:

          Yes, I just don’t think that labor and environmental protection requires onerous regulation and fees.

          You’re wrong.

        • Regulations lag behind expectations and generally exist to prevent extraordinary deviation from expected behavior.

          Then why all the hew and cry when they are proposed, if they aren’t going to change most practices very much?

          And let’s not forget that expectations can change over time. Even if regulations merely prevent expectations from backsliding, they’re serving an important purpose.

        • justaguy says:

          Nope. Chinese labor law is actually pretty good – Chinese workers have more protections from arbitrary firing than US workers do, for example. They’re just not very well enforced for a variety of reasons – mostly being the emphasis placed on increasing GDP at any cost within the state bureaucracy. But you do see a trend of labor and environmental regulations being enforced more as areas within China become more developed – suggesting that it isn’t an issue of expectations as much as priorities.

          As far as “common expectations” go, common to whom?

          • RhZ says:

            They’re just not very well enforced for a variety of reasons – mostly being the emphasis placed on increasing GDP at any cost within the state bureaucracy. But you do see a trend of labor and environmental regulations being enforced more as areas within China become more developed – suggesting that it isn’t an issue of expectations as much as priorities.

            Sorry, I can’t agree with this at all. Maybe I am splitting hairs from your perspective, but Chinese labor law (which on paper is pretty good) is all but ignored by every factory in every small corner of the country, i.e. everywhere but the big cities, and often barely applicable in the cities as well (go ahead and try getting your overtime pay even in the best-run cities). Not because of any emphasis on GDP but because all the local officials are being paid off and are quite happy about it, and at the central level no one wants wages to rise any more than they already have, (meaning that worker rights are not to be encouraged at all) or officials will not get their promotions by showing economic “progress” under their watch.

            There have been a few recent cases of environmental laws being enforced recently, but only in larger cities after protests (and in cases where the plants have already been built, indicating that these laws have been no barrier whatsoever).

            That is a drop in the bucket, however, given the vast number of factories leaking really bad stuff into the air and water throughout the country.

    • Malaclypse says:

      “We found that across the four Chinese-owned copper mines in Zambia, there were persistent labor abuses, particularly in regards to health and safety, long hours of work and anti-union activities,”

      This is proof that 1 billion individual Chinese workers lack basic negotiation skills. Union rules are completely obsolete in today’s marketplace.

  4. Joshua says:

    There really should be a longer school year, though, right? Why shouldn’t kids have, say, 200 or 210 days a year of instruction instead of 180?

    I just can’t see the purpose of this 3 month vacation. Hell even as a kid I used to come in September all fuzzy and need a few weeks just to get up to speed. My stack of to-be-completed NES and Super NES cartridges was depleted, though.

    • Malaclypse says:

      There really should be a longer school year, though, right?

      Of course. And the tax increases that we will need, in order to pay all of the employees for the additional time they will need to work was something Jobs emphasized all the time, right? I mean, there is no way he would expect someone to work for free, right?

    • Anderson says:

      I just can’t see the purpose of this 3 month vacation.

      Allowing for local variations, you may be behind the times. My kid got two months off this summer: school ran to the end of May, and they went back first week in August.

      I am not sure what the recent data shows.

      • Joshua says:

        My school ended in mid-June and started in early September. So it was really more like 2.5 months, true. But in the end it was like, 180-190 days of instruction (variation being snow days and the like).

        Obviously Malaclypse is right – educating kids costs money, and the one thing people don’t want to spend money on is educating kids nowadays (many do, however, like to spend money to hire charlatans like Michelle Rhee to talk about educating kids).

        I really wonder how a tax increase, explicitly framed to keep kids in school longer, would fare in the polls. Su

        • Malaclypse says:

          I really wonder how a tax increase, explicitly framed to keep kids in school longer, would fare in the polls.

          “My opponent wants to tax your hard-earned money, and give it to the teachers unions so that they can educmacate illegals.”

          That is how it would fare.

        • Rob says:

          Its not just that, the tourism industry depends on cheap summer labor. They are the ones who maintain the long summer vacation instead of allowing for year round school or even breaking it down to two 6 week breaks over the year.

    • Warren Terra says:

      My understanding is that the months-long summer vacation is bad for education – and undoubtedly increases the effects of social class on educational attainment, as the child in a wealthier, more educated family is more likely to spend that long vacation getting parental time or professional guidance (tutors, summer camp), getting enriching experience such as travel, and reading books, rather than running wild all summer.

      But when I hear criticism of long summer vacations from someone who opposes taxation to pay for education and opposes good pay and benefits for teachers, I find I can safely disregard their opinions about long summer vacations.

    • Mark says:

      American schools are terrible places for all but the kids most skilled in conforming to the expectations of adults. There would need to be very strong evidence that taking away part of summer vacation would be the best way to improve educational attainment before I would support forcing kids to spend any more time being broken down in school.

      The most important thing we could do to improve our educational attainment is eliminate poverty. If you want kids to spend an extra fifty days a year suffering in those places, but don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on helping the poor, then you are doing everything backwards.

    • lawguy says:

      I always thought that I never got enough time off in the summer. And I learned good.

    • Ohio Mom says:

      Many, if not most school districts already do have something close to year-round schooling for kids who need extra educational support. You might have heard of this program. It’s called summer school.

      In addition, kids on IEPs are sometimes eligible for summer tutoring, called, in my state at least, Extended School Year services. And better-funded districts sometimes offer optional summer enrichment classes at very reasonable rates. I mean it’s not like educators have never noticed that kids do lose some skills over the summer!

      Not that you’d expect someone like Steve Jobs to know how public schools work. I wonder if his kids go to school until 6 every day, 11 months out of the year, and if they don’t if he arranged for them to be tutored to make up the difference. I’m guessing not.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        Ha, no, sorry. Many Florida school districts, for example, got rid of summer school about a decade ago, because it cost too much.

        Perhaps Ohio just has its priorities in better order than Florida does, though from my experience, both states are pretty fucked up.

  5. Anderson says:

    I am betting there will be little or no analysis in Isaacson’s book of whether Jobs was one of those guys who’s brilliant in his narrow area but a crackpot outside it, or simply a callous capitalist asshole.

    Either theory could explain his willful ignorance about what that lack of meaningful regulation (indeed, lack of the rule of law in general) means in China.

    • Joshua says:

      I really think it is the former. Jobs operated in his own world, when the real world didn’t conform, he simply thought that it should.

      I don’t think it is guys like Jobs (or Immelt) that Obama should be listening to, for exactly that reason.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Willful ignorance? I assume he knew exactly what happened in China and was totally fine with it.

      • Rob says:

        He probably did but really didn’t care. Apple products that Jobs personally didn’t care about are crap and have been for a long time (iTunes for Windows being the poster child). If something didn’t personally affect Jobs he didn’t care about it.

  6. Tom Nawrocki says:

    My conservative friends have made a big deal out of Jobs’ position here, and claim that the federal government needs to listen more to these captains of industry. Strangely enough, though, that notion hasn’t extended to Warren Buffett’s ideas on taxation.

    • David M. Nieporent says:

      Setting aside whether either or both are correct, we’d expect a CEO to have a little more expertise on regulation’s effect on manufacturing and employment than expertise on general macroeconomic policy.

  7. Joey Maloney says:

    I am shocked to discover that a guy who was brilliant in some areas of human endeavor was not brilliant in all of them.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      Henry Ford = genious!
      vs.
      Henry Ford = anti-Semite!

      Lucky Lindy = brave (“groundbreaking?”) pilot!
      vs.
      Lucky Lindy = Fascist!

      There’s a lot of that’s been going around for a long, long, time!

    • Warren Terra says:

      The backlash was predictable. Jobs was an interesting, high-achieving person, and he was also a pretty horribly human being, in a whole bunch of ways.

      The thing that’s most irritating about the canonization/demonization cycle is the ways in which it rewards the worst offenders. Shortly after his death, media outlets got a lot of eyeballs (and advertising revenue) by rhapsodizing about the perfection of Saint Steve of Cupertino. Now, those selfsame outlets are cashing in on the execration of the Demon Of Apple. By doing a bad, unbalanced job the first time they built the wave for the backlash, and the worse job they do in each part of the cycle, the better the outcome for them. It’s a fundamentally broken system.

  8. Bill Murray says:

    But Jobs was responsible for some products that many cool people liked, and therefore a healthy fraction of these cool people have no problem with Jobs.

  9. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    But Apple employees in Cupertino drop acid and wear t-shirts and jeans to work. Hence Apple is not evil.

  10. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    A lot of the defense of Apple (and the tech industry in general) has to do with the culture and work atmosphere of Silicon Valley-casual dress environments, eccentricity, a high acceptance of geekiness and people who fall outside the norm, etc.
    People don’t understand how tech companies can be just as evil and fucked up as Wall Street because of that cultural difference.

  11. dangermouse says:

    I know if there’s one thing that makes you qualified to determine an ideal educational and environmental policy, it’s making a really shiny telephone.

  12. Njorl says:

    “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit,

    Unionized school districts outperform non-unionized school districts on the ACT/SAT when other factors are normallized. One of the biggest factors in this is the increased standards placed on the quality of the administration by teachers unions. Governments are poor at holding their school administrators accountable. Unionized teachers improve the quality of their bosses.

    Before people start breaking the teachers’ unions up to empower principals, how about if they find better principals to empower first.

  13. If Steve Jobs had grown up in China, he would have spent all his time and money supporting his parents (no Social Security or Medicare) and had nothing left to help found Apple.

    **** him.

    • mark f says:

      That doesn’t make any sense. Steve Jobs was an innovation Superman who would’ve succeeded equally anywhere. Chinese Steve Jobs certainly wouldn’t have needed the favor of his country’s government for his business to succeed.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Exactly. American Steve Jobs would have simply gone Galt, and denied the world his perpetual motion machine computers. Libertarian theory proves this, with inexorable logic.

  14. It’s really bizarre to me to see people arguing as if teachers and students are engaged in a zero-sum contest.

    Teachers unions are always negotiating for things like smaller class sizes and better classroom conditions, which go a hell of a lot further in promoting students achievement than whatever latest fad the union-busters are pretending to be enamored of.

  15. lawguy says:

    I kind of figuered that if Jobs were to be compared to anyone it would be Henry Ford. With the possible exception of the anti-semitism thing.

  16. Steve S. says:

    Or should I be saying anything negative about National Hero and Demigod Steve Jobs at all?

    No, go ahead and say it. And while you’re at it, say something about the silly myth that Jobs had unique ideas in the field of electronics. The number of geeks who thought that personal computers were the wave of the future, then that friendly operating systems were the wave of the future, then that small personal electronic devices were the wave of the future, could be numbered in the thousands or millions. Jobs was a genius marketer. Well, at times. I personally knew a young couple whose small business went TU trying to sell the Apple II to a reluctant public. The genius of Jobs was still a ways out for them. Oh well.

  17. wengler says:

    The guy was good at building a brand.

    Brand marketing applied to politics gets you…well…where we are right now.

  18. wiley says:

    I want to convince America that what we are paying for that cheap shit from China is actually quite a lot to pay for non-biodegradable landfill that was made by people being poisoned and driven to suicide by shitty work conditions. All a lot of Chinese workers are asking for right now is ONE day off a week. The fact that most of them are indebted to the company store, pails next to not having a day of rest. No excuses for t poor “needing” the low prices, either—when you’re poor, you can’t afford to spend your money on junk. Go to Goodwill and find something that is used, but well made.

  19. RhZ says:

    Ignoring all the discussion above, I have a one-word response:

    Foxconn.

    What I mean is, Jobs never built a factory in China at all. What did he ever know about how easy or hard it is to do?

    Sure, we all know that the Chinese don’t care about their own laws and regulations, but he thought it was ‘easy’ to build a factory in China? Yeah, right. There are many, many barriers to building a factory in China. They just aren’t written down anywhere.

  20. [...] at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Erik Loomis notes an intriguing passage from the new Steve Jobs biography:* “You’re headed for a one-term [...]

  21. […] Given that Steve Jobs was a sociopath and given the labor conditions at overseas factories where Apple products are made, it’s not at all hard to believe that the company would treat their U.S. labor horribly: […]

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