Dirty 10-Letter “C” Word

Here the most petulant little article you’ll read today.

Until recently, Bill Gates has been viewed as the villain of the tech world, while his archrival, Steve Jobs, enjoys an almost saintly reputation.

But these perceptions are wrong. In fact, the reality is reversed. It’s Gates who’s making a dent in the universe, and Jobs who’s taking on the role of single-minded capitalist, seemingly oblivious to the broader needs of society.

The evidence? Bill Gates gives away his money with his named attached and is actively involved in some of those charities. He’s even spoken out against cutting the inheritance tax! OMG, if Bill Gates sees the wisdom of it, why shouldn’t we all? He’s such a saint? Seriously, is that the implication I’m supposed to infer? I hope not because it’s ignorant.

And the case against Mr. Jobs? He either doesn’t give donations larger than $5 million, or he doesn’t do so with his name attached. And because most billionaires give away their money with their name attached, a statement the author makes in a tone that clearly indicates that billionaires donating their money are self-congratulatory publicity leeches. Except Bill Gates, because he talks about “solving global health problems”. Otherwise the author’s alleged point falls apart.

That leaves only one perceived sin by Mr. Jobs.

…, he uses social issues to support his own selfish business goals. …

Jobs can’t even get behind causes that would seem to carry deep personal meaning, let alone lasting social importance. Like Lance Armstrong, he is a cancer survivor. But unlike Armstrong, Jobs has so far done little publicly to raise money or awareness for the disease.

Get that? He doesn’t (openly) raise money for cancer research. Because, once you have cancer, you have an obligation to speak out against it to whomever will listen. And you’d better do so, or else you’ll get tagged thusly:

On the evidence, he’s nothing more than a greedy capitalist who’s amassed an obscene fortune. It’s shameful. In almost every way, Gates is much more deserving of Jobs’ rock star exaltation.

In the same way, I admire Bono over Mick Jagger, and John Lennon over Elvis, because they spoke up about things bigger than their own celebrity.

It’s time for Jobs to do the same.

Mr. Jobs is supposed to be upset because he’s not admired by the author. And he should definitely be embarrassed about his fortune and being a “greedy” capitalist, because that’s capital-B Bad. But the Bono comparison is useful. Where Bono’s activism is quite public, it’s also stunningly short-sighted and wrong┬╣. Time will tell that perhaps Bill Gates is throwing much of his money into worthless efforts that do nothing to solve global health problems.

With great wealth does not come great obligation. Despite the clear indication that most people with wealth donate money (and noteriety) to charity, which Mr. Jobs may be doing, individuals should be free to do with their money as they see fit. That includes not doing.

Should we now talk about all of the Apple and Pixar employees and shareholders who’ve made significant sums of money over the years thanks to the ideas and innovations facilitated by Mr. Jobs? How much money have those employees and shareholders donated to charity? How many Apple products have individuals used to create compelling marketing material for charity marketing campaigns?

Jobs is already contributing.

┬╣ Debt relief is not a policy for long-term economic success.

2 thoughts on “Dirty 10-Letter “C” Word”

  1. You forgot to point out that while Bono thinks that people should pay more in taxes to help out Africa, he doesn’t think that he belongs in that group of people, as he recently moved his studio from Ireland to the Netherlands six month before Ireland ended a tax exemption on recording royalties.

  2. Good point. I’d forgotten about that. I admire his market spirit to force countries to compete on tax rates, but you’re right, his actions and his words are contradictory.

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