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Steve Jobs

I see that overnight, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple – now the largest firm in the US by market capitalisation – has resigned. His health has been a worry for many months and this announcement should come as a surprise to few. Even so, it represents something of a moment in the industry. Of course, the usual “dog in the manger” types will say that many others must claim credit for certain things, etc, etc, and they will have a point, as they do. Even so, given that entrepreneurship represents the only real way debt-laden countries can and will pull themselves out of their problems, it sometimes surprises me how, even in libertarian forums, the real-world business leaders we have attract as much bile as they do. And I am not talking about those who obviously benefit from corporate welfare, such as beneficiaries from tariffs, subsidies, eminent domain rulings, and the like. Even the more obviously free marketeer businessmen seem to get it in the neck from us. Perhaps we ought to step back a bit and realise that if this was so easy, why haven’t we achieved such success? Perhaps that is a painful question too far.

9 comments to Steve Jobs

  • i think jobs really love apple and most people like him.

  • llamas

    I knew Jobs was uber-smart when I read that he drives a car with no CA license plate.

    In CA, you can get driver ID data from a license plate, these are public records. And the fine for driving a car with no license plate is $250.

    He did the math and figured that a miniscule chance of getting a $250 fine is worth it to prevent some mook from getting his ID data off his license plate.

    Now that’s parallel thinking. He one smart dude. I’m sorry he’s that sick.

    One other point being made all over the Interwebs today is that Jobs is such a spectacular success because he has also been such a spectacular failure in the past. The free market’s tolerance for creative destruction has freed him to go on and succeed in spite of all that failure. He wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in public service, where failure is to be avoided at all costs, and covered up when it does happen.



  • John B

    Absolutely. Envy can make a sane man mad.
    I don’t like all the apple hype and “”image” but free market entrepreneurship is indeed what the world needs to reverse the decline and decay.
    Keynes might have said: “Let them eat bank notes”, but it is a vitamin-depleted diet.
    May Steve Jobs get well.

  • Michael

    When my MacBook arrived I wondered at the 3-pin plug. It was beautiful. Apple’s success is as much due to style as anything else – and attention to detail.

  • Jaded Libertarian

    Corporations such as Apple have not thrived because of free-market principles per se, but rather they have thrived because they got rather good at utilising the burdensome regulatory framework erected by the state to their advantage – particularly copyright and intellectual property laws. Apple are known as especially vicious litigants – suing most lately Samsung for making something that looks like an iPhone. Suing for something looking like an iPhone in this day and age is like suing for a phone looking like a brick in 1988. That’s how phones look these days.

    Does Jobs deserve kudos for his acumen? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean I have to approve of the grotesque beast that is the modern super-corporation. It is something that could only exist in the statist world, and it is a disturbing hybrid of free market principles and ultra-authoritarian government interference, fused together in a way that brings out the very worst of all worlds.

    There’s a reason why nerds don’t start computer companies in their garages any more, and it isn’t that there aren’t smart kids out there.

  • llamas

    Jaded Libertarian wrote:

    ‘There’s a reason why nerds don’t start computer companies in their garages any more, and it isn’t that there aren’t smart kids out there.’

    Yes, and it isn’t because of ‘modern super-corporations’ or intellectual-property protections or – well, or just about anything else that you mentioned.

    It’s becasue computers have grown far beyond what it is possible to build in the garage. Comparing how Apple started, 30-something years ago, with today’s computers is to ignore the unimaginable advances in technology that have taken place in the intervening period.

    Henry Ford built a commercially-viable car, literally, in his own scullery. The Wright brothers built a functioning airplane in a backyard shed. But what is commercially-viable in 1903, is antique in 2011, and what is acceptable function in 1903 is completely unacceptable to the consumer of 2011. A century on, it’s not possible to do what they did anymore – not because of mega-corporations, or statist restrictions, or intellectual-property law, but because the consumer-driven requirements to succeed in the developed marketplace with a such a device are now so incredibly demanding that no mere individual, or group of individuals, can even hope to meet them out of their own resources, whether intellectual or financial.

    Jobs and Wozniak built the first Apples by soldering together components that they could buy through the mail. You couldn’t build any commercially-viable computer today using the approach that they did, I don’t care how many ‘smart kids’ you get to try. Every new technology worth having advances beyond the garage-tinkerer stage very quickly, and pining for those days is sheer folly.

    That’s the joy of a mega-corporation – it can give you things that no smaller enterprise can give you. So don’t be blaming the lack of garage tinkerers on a laundry-list of libertarian boogeymen – the reason that there’s no more garage tinkerers building newer, better computers is that the free market has passed them by. And a good thing, too!



  • Very sad to see Steve Jobs leave apple, but I still think that it takes more than one person to make a strong company and that other leaders will step to the forefront.

  • Jaded Libertarian

    Jobs and Wozniak built the first Apples by soldering together components that they could buy through the mail. You couldn’t build any commercially-viable computer today using the approach that they did, I don’t care how many ‘smart kids’ you get to try

    Well yes and no.

    Just as in Job’s youth there are things that are beyond the scope of the home entrepreneur – fabrication particularly. But modern computing systems are highly modular with a strong emphasis on “plug and play” technology. The tricky part is that it can be hard ordering less than (for example) 1000 touchscreens at a time and still getting a decent price, but there are ways.

    So it would be quite possible to do exactly what Jobs did and assemble computers using ordered parts – just much more sophisticated parts. Especially as a proof-of-concept with a view to more sophisticated manufacturing this is an excellent way for cottage industry engineers to make new products.

    The problem is if you then tried to sell your creation, and it even mildly violated one of Apple’s, Microsoft’s or IBM’s patents they’d sue your ass into the next dimension.

    State regulation encourages the formation of mega-corporations and helps them eliminate competitors.

  • Llamas, JL: the Wrights, Ford, Jobs and others all built things in their garages (or similar) that were either non-existent until then or were only affordable to the super-rich. None of us knows what some kid may be building right now in his garage – only time will tell. Also, much of today’s innovation is no longer tangible – i.e. it is likely that many of today’s garages are located on kids’ PCs.