Originally written: October 6, 2011
Steve Jobs died yesterday, at the young age of 56. The homages pour in from all over the world, on machines and via communication methods that he popularized and gave to the masses.
The world is vastly richer, more pleasant, and a more exciting place to live and learn thanks to this one man, someone who gave us not only Toy Story but the most magical Toy Store the world has ever known, filled with the most amazing and engaging gadgets and tools.
Jobs once said, asked to comment on Bill Gates’ giving away most of his fortune, “My congratulations to Bill. He has realized there’s no benefit to being the richest guy in the cemetery.” But Steve Jobs likely will be the richest guy in the cemetery—not in terms of the money he earned…you really can’t take that with you…but in terms of the wealth he created each year for society…which, sadly, he must now take with him. It is lost to us as we move forward.
It is perhaps not the time, with Jobs’ passing less than 24 hours in the past, to focus on current politics. But as I ponder the loss of Steve Jobs, I can’t help but thinking of Elizabeth Warren with her stump speech —really, what wealth has she bestowed on society?—, explaining that Steve Jobs didn’t literally make the iPad and the iPhone and all the rest entirely on his own, and therefore he has to pay back, as if flooding the world with iPads and iPhones wasn’t enough, as if creating hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs throughout the globe wasn’t enough. I can’t help but thinking of President Obama, condemning billionaires. The White House released Obama’s homage to Jobs this morning: “America has lost a great visionary.” But we all know what he was really thinking: “America has lost a great visionary who didn’t pay enough taxes.”
Obama is pushing the idea that “billionaires” don’t pay enough, pushing the view that their wealth is unearned, pushing the view that people like Jobs get rich by taking from others rather than creating immense wealth for society. Pushing class warfare.
Warfare is generally something to avoid. Peace is preferred. But there is a saying from Jobs’ youth that comes back to haunt…No justice, no peace.