Steve Jobs- A True Capitalist

The world has experienced a great loss with the passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs.  His genius and entrepreneurship brought us futuristic-like gadgets at an affordable price.  While the public will undoubtedly mourn his tragic death, one aspect of Jobs' career should not go unnoticed.  Inspired by Ayn Rand's magnum opus "Atlas Shrugged," Jobs held a very high regard for creators and the notion that you should pay for the goods and services you receive.  Nowhere was this more apparent than his push to establish a unique "spaceship" shaped headquarters for Apple in the heart of Silicon Valley- Cupertino, California.

Last summer Jobs met with the Cupertino City Council to make the case for Apple to redesign and add to its company campus.  With an astoundingly successful business like Apple, common sense would dictate that an expansion and hiring of more employees would be a one-and-done deal.  Perhaps the Council forgot that we are in a struggling economy.  Cupertino's redevelopment and economic manager Kelly Kline called the proposed headquarters design "unprecedented" and "truly a legacy building."  Like any set of politicians however, the desire to extort more money from a producer proved to be too much of a deal to pass up. 

After being asked the obvious question of what kind of benefits this new headquarters would bring, Jobs handily reminded the council that Apple was already the largest taxpayer in the city and was responsible for bringing in world class engineers and developers.  Case closed, right?

Not quite. 

Councilwoman Kris Wong asked if Apple would provide the city with "free wifi or something like that."  Apparently bringing the lead innovator in consumer electronics to the city wasn't enough.  Jobs, in always a tactful but stern manner, brilliantly replied "See, I'm a simpleton, and I've always had this view that we pay taxes and the city should do those things. That's why we pay taxes. Now, if we can get out of paying taxes, I'll be glad to put up wifi."  Wong asserts that the question was a softball and that her and Jobs had previous conservations about free wifi.  She just wanted Jobs to wax on about how wonderful a city Cupertino is.  Having the city be home to a company that revolutionized the way the world listens to music and communicates instantaneously with itself just didn't cut it.

Whatever the case, Jobs' reply to Wong's question was demonstrative of not just his dislike of parasitic government, but of his overall belief that one must pay for the benefits and services one receives.  This is reflective on his reluctance to ever give a dime to philanthropic charity despite being one of the world's premier billionaires.  Talk about (not) putting your money where your mouth is.

Despite a lack of charitable giving, Jobs has done much more by selling a product that enriches consumers' lives.  While the "Great Society" welfare programs have left inner cities a decaying corpse of what they used to be, Jobs gave electronics at an inexpensive price to those who still dwell in such living conditions.  Ipods are as cheap and prevalent as ever; there is no doubt that iPads and MacBooks will someday be the same.  While politicians never waste a minute to boast about welfare programs that have failed to deliver prosperity after nearly four decades, Jobs brought gadgets of wonder to the masses in a matter of years.  He was not bound by the moral justifications of using other people's money to buy votes but to invent and create for the sake of profiting.  Improving living standards in society was only a secondary effect to Jobs' visionary business model.

The world may have lost a great mind, but it can still learn a great lesson from the legacy of Steve Jobs.