The picture above is from the memorial service for Steve Jobs at Apple's corporate headquarters last week. I would guess that most of the employees at Apple's headquarters attended the service and in addition all the Apple retail stores around the world closed during the memorial so that those employees could watch as well. Quite a crowd for a millionaire or billionaire, huh?
This post, despite the title and picture, is not a really about Steve Jobs, it is however about the 60,400 people who work for Apple and an additional 2,900 full-time equivalent temporary employees and contractors all of which would not have been possible without the creative genius of Steve Jobs. Look at that picture. Think of the spouses, children and others who benefit as the result of these people having jobs. Think of all the money that these people spend in their neighborhoods which create even more employment opportunities for others. The sixty thousand plus employee base of Apple creates literally billions of dollars of economic activity around the world and this does not even include all the subcontractors, service contractors, suppliers and other industries and services that have sprung up around the Apple business empire.
To give you an idea how vast an impact this one company has on society consider this, In the past year Apple spent over 82 billion dollars to produce and sell their products, that is not their profit that is what they spent, All that money went to employees, contractors, suppliers, vendors and a host of other entities all of whom employ people and like Apple and it's employees pay taxes in one form or another at one level or another which help pay for everything from teachers to congressman and even presidents.
This economic activity creates an ever expanding economic growth which touches millions of people who probably are not even aware that in some small or large way they are benefiting from the entrepreneurial skills of a single man, A college drop out who with his friend had an idea and a vision which transformed the world and expanded the pie of economic well being in the world.
Now consider this picture:
Really ? Did Steve Jobs become rich by exploiting the poor ? Or did Steve Jobs create opportunities for hundred of thousands indeed millions of people around the world. Putting aside the tremendous far reaching technological revolution that people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others have ushered in, their contribution to the expansion of wealth at every level of society is incalculable. The entrepreneurial seed which industrious and innovative people sow and nurture into grand enterprises are not the cause of human degradation but on the contrary it is the source for the uplifting and positive evolution of the human experience. Step by glorious step the market place of ideas, innovation and inspiration has taken mankind from the caves of prehistory to the moon and into limitless possibilities of cyber space and Steve Jobs or John D Rockefeller were as much a part of that journey as Plato or Jefferson.
The basic understanding of what we call the "hidden hand" of the market which expands the pie from which we all benefit is what separates free market proponents from those bent on creating statist and socialist style, "top down" societies. Those of a statist mind set believe in a static world where the pie is constant and if one person has a larger share then others must have their share diminished. But the world is not static, it is a dynamic world we live in, which grows with the constant expansion of human insight and innovation. The proof of this is so obvious as to be the very definition of "common" sense.
We can prove there is an expanding dynamic economy very simply, consider this. At the time that the United States came into being the population of this nation was 3.9 million people, today there is nearly ten times as many people. Not only has the nations economy been able to keep up with this population growth, the standard of living for Americans has grown nearly twenty two fold. In other words not only has our economy been able to keep up with population growth, the dynamic ever expanding free market economy has, over two centuries, made our lives more than twenty times more prosperous than the citizens of our nation when founded. You could also very simply compare our economic well being as compared to socialist models both in the past and currently. Does anyone with the possible exception of the Michael Moore's and Sean Penn's of the world seriously believe that Cuba's economic and social model is superior to ours as judged by the well being of their respective citizens? As has often been noted, the rafts between these two neighboring nations seems to only be going in one direction, towards freedom.
A perfect example of the statist mind, which only sees or chooses to see one side of the equation was illustrated recently when Jessie Jackson Jr. went to the floor of the House and made this remarkable statement which, as it happens, also involved Steve Jobs:
“A few short weeks ago I came to the House floor after having purchased an iPad and said that I happened to believe, Mr. Speaker, that at some point in time this new device, which is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs. Now Borders is closing stores because, why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your newspaper, download your book, download your magazine.”Anyone who has even a cursory understanding of the dynamics of economics knows that what Representative Jackson is describing is what is known as creative destruction."(a) process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."
Those of the mind set of Jackson who have a static world view only see the destruction and ignore the creative changes that more than make up for the loss of the old while making way for the new. While bemoaning the destruction of Borders, Jackson ignores the far more innovative and productive advent of the IPad which among other things allows for the employment of thousands upon thousands of Apple employees and now other pad manufacturers and the related industries and enterprises growing out of it's entrance into our society.
Based on Jackson's theory of life and economy we would still have peasants tilling vast tracks of land by hand in order to save their jobs from the "creative destruction" of the plow. As a true blue liberal of the highest order one would think that Jackson and people of his persuasion would at least recognize the great ecological advantage the IPad etc. would have. Think of all the tree that will now be saved from the smoke belching pulp mills.
Consider the contrast between the free market economic model as compared to the current statist model which has slowly but surely infected the United States. A perfect illustration would be Solyndra.
Putting aside the corrupt cronyism which is always present when government and business collude rather than letting free markets determine outcomes the story of Solyndra was as pathetic as it was predictable. Solyndra never once made an honest days profit and left in its wake only waste and heartache. Because government decided that a particular form of energy was needed they attempted to create a new playing field disconnected from free market principles.
Not only has Solyndra not contributed to society, it has in fact stolen from society, Vast sums of taxpayer's monies, such as those paid into society by Apple and it's employees was given to Solyndra
in the belief that it would eventually work to the greater good of society. Remember too that these monies were ostensibly taken from one segment of citizens (private sector employees) and given to Solyndra as a means to stimulate job growth. In affect and to a large degree Solyndra and it's employees were not a private enterprise but rather a quasi government agency supported by the private sector not too dissimilar from the post office. And now it is gone with all of the money.
Consider the difference between Apple and Solyndra and their contributions to society. On the day that Apple went public less than a decade after two kids created it in their garage, thirty millionaires were made, The immense wealth and well being which private free market entities such as Apple has created stands in stark contrast to the absolute corruption and waste that statist inspired Solyndra's
wreak on society.
It boggles the mind that a large segment of society is so obtuse that they can not see the advantages to man's well being in the freedom of not only their physical being but in their economic pursuits as well. Statist are control freaks, they believe that given enough control they can dictate outcomes which are the most beneficial to all. But everyone knows or should know that people will always make choices that serve their own best interest. The statist sees this as greed and selfishness without even seeing that their world view is the most selfish mindset of all. Only arrogance of the highest degree would allow someone to believe that they know what is best for another less alone an entire society.
One of the great benefits of market based societies and all societies are ultimately market based, is that the process of creative destruction always plays out, the old and obsolete is replaced by the new and more efficient. I believe we are either near the end of the statist experiment when the market place of ideas will finally crush the totalitarian goals masquerading as benevolence or we are about to enter a new dark age in the human experience where old lessons must be learned again.
I predict the former rather than the latter, not only because I am at heart an optimist, but because the revolution which people like Steve Jobs started can not be put back in the bottle unless the statist can control everyone's IPad and IPhone and they are not that smart.
If they were they would believe in free markets and freedom.