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    RIP Steve Jobs: Here's to the Entrepreneur

    10/13/2011

    Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been inspired by entrepreneurs who risked nearly everything to pursue their dreams. I usually had an idea for some new business venture up my sleeve as a middle schooler. While my babysitting or dog walking businesses weren’t as successful as I dreamed up in my head, it made me appreciate all the hard work entrepreneurs go through to get a business off the ground.

    It wasn’t until later on that I learned about all the state licensing and regulations that hurt entrepreneurs. I probably would have never passionately pursued my business ideas if I knew about the massive loads of government paperwork and rules. My heart goes out to all of the little children who have had their lemonade stands shut down recently by police officers simply because they lack the “proper permits.” These kids, unfortunately, have learned a firsthand lesson about how state crushes the entrepreneurial spirit.

    Entrepreneurs should be treated as heroes—not villains. Many of these brave individuals risk their entire life savings to market their ideas. Some will strike out on their own and others will achieve the American dream. The last thing we should want is for the state to punish entrepreneurs who enrich our lives with new products and services. Innovation takes place not because of government regulation, but in spite of it. That’s why I want to get government out of the way to enable entrepreneurs to thrive.

    We lost one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time last week. Apple creator Steve Jobs improved the lives of millions of Americans. He was born poor and achieved success through old fashioned hard work and determination. Steve Jobs contributed more to society than any government bureaucrat ever has. It is estimated that he generated as much as $30 billion annually in increased wealth for the U.S. economy. Steve Job’s innovation has made us all a little richer.

    Some clues suggest that Steve Jobs may have been skeptical of government. On EconomicPolicyJournal.com, Robert Wenzel writes that Jobs was an original gold bug, stood up to a city council, drove his car without license plates and lobbied against legislation to classify lithium batteries as hazardous materials. It’s difficult to determine if Steve Jobs was a true blue libertarian but I do admire many of his efforts to reduce the scope of government.

    Unlike most big corporations that lobby for more government regulations to hurt their competitors, Apple actually fought off the state. According to Robert Wenzel, “Apple also is part of the ‘Win America Campaign’ lobbying group that is calling for tax breaks for corporations who repatriate offshore earnings. Apple also signed up to a campaign against the US government's ability to inspect customer data on computers without warrant.”

    Steve Jobs should prove that rich people are not inherently bad. While the Occupy Wall Street crowd is a mixed bag, many of the protesters are angry at the rich or the “1 percent.” Steve Jobs and many successful entrepreneurs who built a business from the ground up were/are in the top 1 percent of income earners. As the picture below shows, it’s inconsistent for protesters to denounce capitalists while using their iPhones that have enriched their lives. When a few of Steve Job’s business ventures failed along the way, he never asked Washington for a bailout. He was never “too-big-to-fail.”

    Occupy Wall Street is right to protest the Wall Street bailouts (where were they in 2008?) but they should be celebrating “filthy-rich” entrepreneurs who never begged for a government handout. As the descendant of immigrants who came to America to escape communism in Eastern Europe, I still believe in the American Dream. We should all recognize that there is something truly special about a place where a poor boy that is born out of wedlock can grow up to be a billionaire through hard work and willpower. I worry that the government is preventing future generations of children from obtaining the same success in their lifetimes.

    OccupyWallStreet

    3 comments
    Michael Palen
    10/15/2011

    Julie,

    Actually, Jobs was a liberal, and would disagree with many of the views stated in this forum. Clearly, he was responsible for millions of good paying jobs as well as fantastic technology innovation. RIP Steve Jobs.

    Additionally, though their message is a bit muddled, I think it is unfair that many characterize the Occupy wall street protesters as being angry at the rich because they are rich (although I think your characterization is more fair). I think that their foundational issue is a political and economic structure that has unfairly favored the rich and powerful at the expense of the middle class, as evidenced by median middle class income falling some 7% in the last decade, and a nearly $2 billion wealth transfer to the banksters who defrauded the american people with fraudulent derivatives (mortgage backed securities). The banksters then payed themselves huge bonuses with bailout money, thereby thumbing their noses at the American people. The remainder of the bailout money continues to sit in bank coffers, enriching the banks, rather than being lent to qualified businesses and individuals to get the economy moving forward. Like the unsustainable debt we are accruing, the growing wealth inequality as well as disproportional influence that the rich and powerful have over government are issues that affect all Americans whether they be liberal or conservative.

    Michael Palen
    10/15/2011

    Correction: Make that a $2 trillion wealth transfer.

    J F
    10/13/2011

    Hi, Julie! I'm a Libertarian like you, but I have a more nuanced view of Steve Jobs and Apple.

    While I admire him for his entrepreneurship and innovation, I believe it is important to look at his policies in running Apple. Apple places many restrictions on software developers, which is why they lost majority market share to Microsoft in the early nineties despite an early lead in the market. While this is intended to improve quality, it is an example of Apple's tendency toward control.

    What is truly disturbing is that Apple reserves the right to remove applications from your device remotely, without consent, and they also monitor many of your actions, often not admitting it until it is discovered and made public. Of course, most other proprietary software companies, including Microsoft and Google, similarly violate privacy without consent. This is part of the ever-growing legal trend to use license agreements to circumvent individual rights, but that is another issue.

    Apple has also recently sued competitors for making tablets that "look too similar" to the iPad and for running Android, which it claims to be in violation of its intellectual property because it displays grids of icons, something that Apple apparently considers to be its exclusive right, despite having been used by every major desktop operating system since Apple itself borrowed the idea from Xerox.

    Unfortunately, Apple is likely to win these suits because the definition of intellectual property has been broadened so much in the last thirty years due to the efforts of software companies, Hollywood, and the music industry, that almost anything can be considered to be in violation of many patents. One of the patents Apple used in the case against Samsung is so broad that any operating system or device with a wireless internet connection technically infringes. We need IP reform just as much as we need reform in other areas.

    I honestly find the story of Steve Jobs rather sad. I believe he honestly wanted to make a positive difference, and believed in the philosophy put forth in Apple's "1984" ad, but ultimately his tendency toward control caused Apple to become everything that they had said they were fighting against in the beginning.

    Sorry to be so negative and long-winded, but I believe these issues are important.

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