Like him or not, the man changed the world for the better.
I don’t know what Steve Jobs’s politics were, I don’t much care, and in any case they are beside the point. The late Mr. Jobs stood for something considerably better than politics. He stood for the model of the world that works.
…That old Motorola cinderblock would cost about $10,000 in 2011 dollars, and you couldn’t play Angry Birds on it or watch Fox News or trade a stock. Once you figure out why your cell phone gets better and cheaper every year but your public schools get more expensive and less effective, you can apply that model to answer a great many questions about public policy. Not all of them, but a great many.
Mr. Jobs’s contribution to the world is Apple and its products, along with Pixar and his other enterprises, his 338 patented inventions — his work— not some Steve Jobs Memorial Foundation for Giving Stuff to Poor People in Exotic Lands and Making Me Feel Good About Myself. Because he already did that: He gave them better computers, better telephones, better music players, etc. In a lot of cases, he gave them better jobs, too. Did he do it because he was a nice guy, or because he was greedy, or because he was a maniacally single-minded competitor who got up every morning possessed by an unspeakable rage to strangle his rivals? The beauty of capitalism — the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics — is that that question does not matter one little bit. Whatever drove Jobs, it drove him to create superior products, better stuff at better prices. Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates.
Williamson includes a highly-pertinent slam at the Occupy Wall Street morons, too, winding up thus:
And to the kids camped out down on Wall Street: Look at the phone in your hand. Look at the rat-infested subway. Visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, then visit a housing project in the South Bronx. Which world do you want to live in?
They’re way too goddamned stupid to figure that one out on their own, and way too arrogant in their ignorance to accept it if it’s explained to them.
For my own part, it’s literally true that Jobs and Apple changed my life; if it weren’t for them, I’d most likely still be driving a truck. In 1998, my girlfriend’s father sent her the latest-and-greatest Mac G3 for her to use for editing photos (she was/is a photographer, at that time attending a fancy-schmancy art school in Atlanta; she now works as a crime-scene photographer for the APD). I had piddled around with various Windoze machines here and there, and they left me completely cold; I had no interest in them whatsoever, and said so many times. But she asked me to set the G3 up for her, and within a month, I had built my first website — I was intrigued and excited, not to say hooked. Previously, what writing I had done was done on an old pain-in-the-ass Royal portable that had belonged for years to my dad, which wasn’t exactly an incentive to do more of it, despite the nostalgia for old typewriters some folks have.
But with the G3, and all the Macs I’ve owned since, well, I just can’t stay away from them. They’ve all been elegant, beautifully designed, and reliable; they just work. They do what they’re supposed to do with no fuss, muss, or hassle. Yeah, they cost more — and you get what you pay for. And although I now also have a five-year-old HP laptop that belonged to my late wife, Windoze still just leaves me cold.
So Steve, if you can hear this somehow wherever your spirit may be a-roaming: thanks. Of course, Lileks has something to say too:
It all seems inevitable in retrospect, but it wasn’t. It took a guy who could see several steps in the future. Beyond this to the thing beyond that.
And now he’s gone to the thing beyond it all. Thanks, Mr. Jobs. Every day: thanks.
Amen to that, my friend. With bells on.
Update! Slublog gets right to the heart of Jobs’ amazing achievement:
I think it’s easy to forget how truly revolutionary the first iPod was. It was small, portable and easy to use. I was old enough when I first got one to be amazed by it – here was a device the size of the cassette tapes I used to put in my Walkman that can hold ALL of my music. I didn’t know I wanted this thing until it was offered to me.
Exactly. The great American experiment wouldn’t have been possible without the freedom and creativity unleashed by capitalism; capitalism itself wouldn’t be possible without people like Jobs. Every day, in every way, they make lives better the whole world around. And a bunch of ingrate mouthbreathers in lower Manhattan are even now screaming and yelling about how “evil” it all is, that it must be “smashed” and destroyed, merely because it can’t live up to their notion of “perfect.” The very fact that these self-made zombies are chronicling and sharing their idiocy on iPads and iPhones is the most efficient refutation of their dunderheaded ideology imaginable. Talk about ironic.
I’ll note, too, that Slu also includes a “thank you” at the end of his short post. In fact, just about every obit I’ve seen so far includes an expression of gratitude to the man. It’s an incredible, powerful testimony to his contribution and influence–far more so than any manifesto or list of foolish “demands” from spoiled, whining children will ever be. Again: ironic, innit?
Long after we are all forgotten — George Bush, Barack Obama, Osama bin Laden, and all the rest of us, the world will remember Steve Jobs.
Because he said: “No. I want this.” And we got things that changed the world forever. It’s a wonderful thing that one bright person could do what no government ever could.
Indeed it is. Stunning, and saddening, that so many refuse to accept the truth of it.
Making magic update! Fine post from Allahpundit:
I’m straining to find a cultural analogy for Jobs and am struck by the fact that I have to leave the business/tech fields entirely to do it. You can do it if you go back far enough — Henry Ford and Edison pop to mind, but…that’s awfully far. The obvious modern comparison is to Bill Gates, but that doesn’t work. Gates, like Jobs, is capital-I Important to the computer age, but in sort of the same way that ancient cave painters were important to the development of art. Jobs started out as a cave painter too but kept at it until he turned into Rembrandt. I think Lileks is close to the mark in comparing him to Walt Disney; my first thought when I heard the news was that only Steven Spielberg’s passing today would hit quite as hard. The common thread among those three is that they all made magic, but Jobs put it in your hands so that you felt like you were the one making it. That’s the crucial difference between Apple and Microsoft — Gates made computers easier to use but Jobs made them objects of wonder. He made magic, literally. There’s no greater epitaph.