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I am extremely saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs, as seems to be most people I know. I think half the tweets and facebook statuses I follow are making some reference to what Steve Jobs meant to them in terms of his inspirational qualities and of course the wonders of the products he delivered. I agree. The world is a poorer place without him in it. I can only hope that he inspires millions of others to take risks, understand what his fellow man wants, and to be amiable through it all (or so he appeared to be).

Now, here’s how to get oneself banned from polite company – use the occasion of someone’s death to score points.

But reflect for a moment on Steve Jobs. He took resources from no one. He coerced no one. He pandered to no one. He made hundreds of millions of people happy. He ended up being responsible for the creation of tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs, and inspired countless others to mimic him, or to beat him, or to otherwise complement his work. He asked for no special favors. He was adopted, and certainly was not dealt the best hand in the lottery of life. He blamed no one else for his failures. He shared in his successes. I would argue that this one man’s short life was far more important than a century’s worth of politicians who claim to be working in your interest.

Sure, tears are shed at the passing of “great” political leaders, and indeed some leaders have done a fine job of representing their constituents. But even the best political leaders are best at laying the foundations and groundwork so that remarkable people like Steve Jobs can flourish. That does not mean the work of good political leaders is unimportant – of course not — a cursory look across the planet to some dysfunctional countries confirms that. But it does mean that the general scorn applied to the entrepreneurs who have done so much to help us become healthy, wealthy and wise is disproportionately large given the scorn applied to a political class whose exclusive tool is to employ coercion (which again, is perhaps necessary, if unfortunate). Why are we able to appreciate the life of a Steve Jobs and to ignore the millions of others doing the same thing? And why is the default view of the political class more like the way Jobs himself is being treated today? Contrast what Jobs has done for the world with what Ted Kennedy did for the world. The reaction to Senator Kennedy’s death reminded me a bit of the reaction we are seeing today. Am I crazy for hearing these two reactions as discordant when played together?

4 Responses to “How to Be Removed from Polite Company”

  1. Rod says:

    My first business computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 with a whopping 64 K RAM and a double disk drive that used 8-inch 640K floppy disks. We got it for the business because we latched onto a computer programmer who wrote a custom COBOL program for us that did exactly what we needed to do and that did not require us to become programmers ourselves. This was before the IBM PC had been invented, and Apple computers along with the rest of the field simply did not print on the forms that made our reports so easy to understand.

    So the reason why our programmer became our programmer was that he was skilled in both business and in programming, and he was able to listen long enough to understand how he could satisfy our needs. All the other companies trying to sell us pre-PC computers, including IBM, simply could not produce a product that would do that. Our programmer used us as a reference and did the same for many businesses in our area, and soon he quit his job as head of MIS at a big corporation and made a huge success out of computer consulting. Today his son-in-law runs the computer business, and he has launched a new and successful venture into wireless transmission and WIFI.

    I can’t help but make a comparison between our programmer and Steve Jobs. It’s one thing to become fluent in the Dilbert world of programming, but quite another to imagine how much computers can increase productivity and to invent gizmos that make that imagination reality.

  2. Zachriel says:

    wintercow20: Contrast what Jobs has done for the world with what Ted Kennedy did for the world.

    Just for the record, Jobs donated primarily to Democrats and supported Obama. By most estimations, he was a progressive.

    {xposted to Carpe Diem}

  3. Zachriel says:

    Here’s an interesting blog on Steve Jobs: Arab-American, Buddhist, Psychedelic Drug User, and Capitalist World-Changer

  4. Speedmaster says:

    “How to Be Removed from Polite Company” is by far my favorite meme here. 😉

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