Real Contributions to Society

I believe Kevin Williamson summarized a fact of life that I often talk about but can never eloquently express:

CNN, being CNN, misses the point. 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.

Bear with me because this post isn’t another about Steve Jobs, but one about those who fail to realize what social good really is. According to many a wealthy person who fails to publicly donate great deals of money to various charitable organizations is an evil man who has gained greatly from society without giving anything back. Truth be told, for many, their wealth was obtained through the social good they provided.

Steve Jobs is only on example of this. Henry Ford is another example, the man innovated the assembly line to manufacture automobiles and paid his employees well so they could afford to purchase those very automobiles and kickstart the market. Affordable automobiles dramatically changed society for the better just as affordable computers did.

Instead of writing a long complaint about Steve Jobs’s less than stellar philanthropic tendencies from a personal computer, you should be writing a long post thanking him for bettering society by having the vision to see computers as more than giant expensive monstrosities that only the wealthiest of businesses could afford. This is the beauty of capitalism, resources are allocated in a voluntary manner to those who best serve the desires of society. If you don’t like Apple computers that’s perfectly OK because you can purchase a computer from one of their competitors. You get a direct vote in saying which good best serves your needs without forcing it upon others.

When you purchase a Ford automobile you’re effectively saying that Ford has found a means of serving your needs better than Toyota. If you purchased a Prius you’re giving your vote to Toyota. Regardless of what automobile you buy it doesn’t effect me and I am still allowed to decide for myself which vehicle will best serve my needs.

Capitalism is a beautiful thing and we should strive to expand it throughout our society instead of expanding government controlled markets.