Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dear #OccupyWallStreet,

Yesterday the world lost a great man.  Depending on who you talk to, Steve Jobs was:
  • a genius
  • a control-freak
  • a brlliant marketer
  • a perfectionist
  • a jerk
  • etc...
What is beyond dispute is that our world would not be what it is today had he never lived.  The products of Apple Computer have enabled and shaped the technological progress of the entire world.  Who hasn't heard of iPods?  That brand is not very far behind Coca Cola for being recognized around the world.

And yet, I fear that Mr. Jobs passing will be overshadowed by the spectacle that is taking place in our headlines today here in America.  In New York City, your grassroots movement has taken up residence in the streets and alleys in lower Manhattan, protesting the very institution that Mr. Jobs used so very well to leave his mark on the world; capitalism.

Mr. Jobs (and Steve Wozniak, but let's focus here) started Apple Computer in his parents' garage back in the 1970's.  He was taking on the established computer industry with his ideas.  IBM was an industrial behemoth back then, and everyone thought he was nuts.  But we know how that story ends.  Apple Computer's market capitalization as of today is 350 billion dollars versus IBM's 211 billion dollars. (I'm hoping someone in #OccupyWallStreet understands the relevance of market capitalization and can explain it to the rest of them).  Apple Computer's success (and rescue from almost certain bankruptcy, but that's a different story)  is entirely due to Mr. Jobs' obstinate refusal to stop trying at everything he did.

So, it is with stark contrast that I look at what you are trying to accomplish with your protests in Manhattan, and elsewhere.  End capitalism?  End the very thing that enabled Steve Jobs to bring you the device that allows you to broadcast your story to the world?

Steve Jobs would hold you all in contempt.

Wealth is not a zero-sum game (look it up on Wikipedia with your iPhone/iPad).  Steve Jobs carved out his wealth from an industry that at first laughed at him, then tried to shut him down, and then desperately tried to emulate and catch up.  Wealth is hard work.  Happiness is hard work.  Yes, I know that we can't all be Steve Jobs, but if you don't bust your ass trying, you have no one to blame but yourself.  If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at your parents and teachers who didn't teach you this.