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Steve Jobs vs. Wall Street ‘Greedheads, Famewhores and Powermongers’

Posted on Oct 6, 2011

In the last 24 hours, many have lauded Steve Jobs as a visionary, a genius, a fearless leader. Although all of those are certainly true, there are those who point out that he was also an unabashed capitalist and even kind of a jerk.

But as Dan Mitchell pointed out in SF Weekly, Jobs’ jerkiness was not the kind that the Occupy Wall Street people are protesting. Jobs was admittedly more a fan of profit than of philanthropy, but he never pretended otherwise. And perhaps more important, Jobs made it clear that what he was really striving for was greatness. Greatness through innovation and technology, which also happened to bring him huge amounts of money. But his primary goal was never richness for the sake of being rich.

So the reason Jobs comes out ahead of the Wall Street types, Mitchell explained, is because “the Occupy people aren’t calling for an overthrow of the capitalist system; they’re calling for the greedheads, the famewhores and the powermongers to be stripped of their outsized influence over our culture, our government and our economy. They’re calling on us to reshape our values. To have values. To care.” —BF

Dan Mitchell in SF Weekly:

Many of my Facebook friends who expressed profound grief over Jobs’ death also have been expressing support for the Occupy demonstrations. It’s really something to witness—the depth of emotion all these left-wingers feel for the head of a giant American corporation. Jobs was one of the most successful capitalists of our time, and yet he’s hailed as a hero by left and right alike. This is because his goal was simply to create products that were Insanely Great. In a world where few people—particularly in business—truly care about what they do, he truly cared. By thinking that way, he became Insanely Rich, and when he died, his company had an Insanely Large cash balance in the tens of billions of dollars. But few begrudged either Jobs or Apple for their wealth, because their priority wasn’t to get rich—it was to achieve Insane Greatness. Getting rich was a byproduct. That’s how capitalism should work.

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By americaussie, October 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm Link to this comment

@glider What, precisely is “my ilk?” 
Frankly, you know nothing about me. 
Although the Occupy Wallstreet movement
is still figuring out exactly what it is, I fully
support those who recognize the need for
change.  Perhaps rather than name
calling, you should focus more on the need
for real change.

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By nofanboy, October 8, 2011 at 7:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I must agree that it is unlikely that Jobs and Apple exemplify the worst of corporate excesses e.g. they don’t seem to be directly responsible for large-scale loss of life.

However, they are infuriatingly corporate in their complete disregard for all others: they have a long history of taking the credit for and staking legal claims for the work of others (e.g. suing Microsoft on the release of Windows 2 for what was essentially copied, without payment, from the Xerox Alto), have made no meaningful contributions to FreeBSD (a community-developed operating system that was incorporated into NeXTSTEP, which became the core to OS X), tolerate the working conditions of Foxconn and regularly use their corporate legal might against individuals and small businesses who wander unwittingly as ‘threats’ into their sights. What is most disturbing about Apple is that although they are probably the nastiest players in the technology industry, they are also the most publicly lauded.

There is no doubt that Jobs was a clever, capable person, and although it doesn’t seem that monetary gain was his primary objective, one can hardly describe him and Apple as a “decent;” surely for this, if nothing else, Jobs is undeserving of the hyperbolic praise he has received.

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By Jamievecchie50, October 8, 2011 at 5:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a shame he has apple products made in Communist China just Sayin

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By Observer, October 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Only a > total DumbAss would write such utmost garbage . . . he was also an unabashed capitalist and even kind of a jerk.
To describe the passing of Steve Jobs by someone with such mean language tells volume about this particular insensitive and apathetic cold person.
There is quite fortunately a majority of decent people out there who give Steve Jobs the respect he so ultimately deserves.

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By joe12345, October 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

Steve Jobs was a true genius, the first geek, nerd, computer addict, and with Zuckerberg coming in the end with facebook, for the first time, the human race can truly start a dialogue. The implications are beyond astounding, and our lives on this mudball planet are enriched because of the vision of all these computer geeks. Now with the so called American spring following the arab spring becoming a fast reality because of Jobs, Zuckerberg, Gates, etc, do you think we could start getting along with one another, and maybe even try to clean up the planet, boy, now I am very sure Steve Jobs, would have liked to see that happen!!!!!!!!

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By James, October 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Get ready for a deluge of books from every office drone and toady this guy has ever stepped on.  Paging Kathy Griffin!

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By mrfreeze, October 7, 2011 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

Billy Pilgrim…...just for the record with Steve Jobs….so it goes…

Also, I think a lot of people forget that Steve Jobs walked out of the Xerox Palo-Alto research center with all the computer ideas….in fact, I think a lot of people have forgotten that Xerox basically invented the PC, the forerunner to the mouse interface, etc.. Like so many “geniuses” Steve Jobs was a great marketing guy, someone who saw the potential of the computer and then spent his entire life providing expensive toys to an insatiable public.

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By Robespierre115, October 7, 2011 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Albert Einstein was a Socialist, ‘nuff said.

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By James, October 7, 2011 at 8:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am 52 years old.  I’ve been working with and around computers all my working life and to date I have never so much as touched an Apple product, let alone used one.  And now Steve Jobs is gone from us.  Somehow, I just don’t feel like I’ve missed anything.

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By bodhidharma, October 7, 2011 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

@ glider
What socialists are you talking about?  I can’t think of a single socialist economy that wasn’t crushed by western imperialism in it’s infancy.  And to say that the Soviet Union or China were ever really socialists is to believe a lie.  On the other hand, many of the most brilliant of the early innovators in the computer revolution were socialists.  They were responsible for the open source movement, and refused to copyright work that could have made them very rich.

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By elisalouisa, October 7, 2011 at 5:37 am Link to this comment

I have seen Apple through thick and thin since 1991. Have always gotten a service plan with my product. Apple products and more specifically my Macbook Pro have allowed this computer illiterate to participate more fully in our age of technology. In my experience no company has equaled Apple as to service. 

Steve Jobs didn’t just talk, he delivered, something sorely lacking in many corporations at this time. Here’s to you Steve Jobs.

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By Psychobabbler, October 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment

I hate to be the one to tell you but, in case you didn’t notice from the sky ads with the man making a thinking pose. Steve Jobs is dead.

Screw everyone else who died today (by the way). They were just a bunch of dead beats wanting hand-outs anyways.

I have to admit (Guilty) that I love my apple computer, but I find it hard to believe that it was made by this one man alone.

I remember thinking when I was young that it would be nice to watch TV on my phone, like we all did before there were even cell phones. (I am available for graduations if the price is right)

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

Steve Jobs and Apple exemplify the good/bad aspects of large corporations. Apple certainly contributed to main streaming computer technology but they also had all the horrible characteristics of a control freak corporate. Have we forgotten the Chinese worker who killed himself after being humiliated for losing a iPhone prototype? Have we already forgotten the workers at FoxComm who work for slave wages to produce these wonderful gadgets? Have we forgotten the anal retentive control Apple exerts over the iStore and iTunes distribution channels? How many iPhone/iPad applications have been rejected by that company for no real reason? It is a huge number. And if you were rejected, there was no alternative channel available because you app needs a special registration number in order to even work on the iPhone. Apple has frustrated creativity and competition (just like Microsoft I might add). Jobs was a master of smoke and mirrors. He was an expert at promoting his brand and creating this cult of personality around himself and his company. I’ve used both Macs and Microsoft PCs and I’m not overly impressed with either brand. Macs are reliable but they are far from perfect (I’m having continuing problems with the mouse ‘button’ on my MacBook as I write this ... it doesn’t always work especially on cold mornings and the plastic coatings on my ‘e’, ‘d’, ‘c’ and ‘n’ keys seem to be peeling off). Please spare me the fawning over Jobs ... he was a hard nosed, profit above almost everything else kind of guy. He found his PR method and worked it with mastery. But when you lift the hood and push back against the glossy cover you find another greedy corporation that wants to control everything.

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By glider, October 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

One final comment regarding Steve Jobs,

I think clearly that Jobs was a brilliant man and we are better off for his contributions.  From what I have heard I would not argue that the man was not a control freak and ego-centric.  But perhaps that was deserved to a large extent. 

I have always had one thought about Apple that ameliorates my respect for Jobs just a little bit.  To a large extent Apple timing was poor.  They were always about doing it in style.  In the early days when computers appealed only to ex-slide-ruler wielding geeks this was foolish.  Once computers went significantly mainstream Apple fashion became more attractive.  Still Jobs along with Apple’s designers deserve credit for keeping it together and recognizing this fact when it became relevant.

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By glider, October 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment


>>that’s what you can keep telling yourself but it’s a fantasy<<

I would argue that my view is rooted in reality and yours in in clear fantasy land.  I suspect it will be quite difficult for you to cite real world examples where the system you in vision has been an unqualified success.  There is none, perhaps Cuba in the absence of American treachery could have been something but that is speculation.

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By glider, October 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment


So you define anything other than your preference of Socialism to be “centrist”?? 

I happen to be far to the left of any popular politician, maybe a bit short of Ralph Nader (but maybe not), and you are calling me a centrist.  Do words have any relationship with reality for you?

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By glider, October 6, 2011 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment


No one sanely wants to tax themselves.  That is the responsibility of a good government, which we lack.  Again, we need a proper Yang to get the best out of the beast of the Capitalist Ying.  If your ilk succeeds in converting OccupyWallStreet into a Socialist movement it will die stillborn.  If we can achieve an intermediate true non-corporate Democracy and Media we can evolve into a best of both worlds outcome.

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By Alan, October 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The names of the Jobs inventions say it all:
iPod, iPhone, iPad
a lot of head down, I can’t hear you “iNarcissism”

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By Robespierre115, October 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

@glider, that’s what you can keep telling yourself but it’s a fantasy, and if OccupyWallStreet offers nothing more than timid venting and centrist blowhard rhetoric, then it’s a lost cause already.

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By glider, October 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment


>>as long as the system remains capitalist, they won’t be able to accomplish any of those goals, because greed, monopolies and the consumer culture are natural branches of CAPITALISM<<

I strongly disagree, and hope the OccupyWallStreeters I have supported do not cave to Socialist opportunists looking for a free ride on their commendable efforts. Apple and Microsoft, Silicon Valley and Biotech are stellar examples of what Capitalism is capable of producing.  Socialism has no track record of producing anything of this kind.  What is really needed is the proper Yang to balance the Capitalist Ying.  And that is what I hope the OccupyWallStreet movement is about!  We need to replace our sham of a governemtn with a real Democracy and properly regulate the beast of Capitalism.

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By americaussie, October 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

He is EXACTLY the kind of guy the occupy wall street protesters are
protesting.  He was the CEO of a company that didn’t not
pay an appropriate amount of tax on profits.  This massive
shift of tax burden from corporations and wealthy
individuals to the mass of working people, and then
passing austerity measures to make up for the “lack” of
funding for social programs are the main reasons we are
experiencing the current economic and social breakdowns
that spurred the occupation protests.

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By Lmaris, October 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This blog’s author can’t help himself and fawn at the feet of the modern-day PT Barnum.  Capitalism is all about profit, no matter if you show up to work in a black long-sleeve t-shirt and have a cult following.

Jobs sent jobs overseas.  He uses sub-standard materials.  He hasn’t invented anything, just tweaked current technology and marketed the hell out of it so people will spend more for less.

I morn the passing of every person, but he was no counter-culture icon.  He was Henry Ford in a t-shirt.  Profit was paramount, philanthropy negligible and pretending otherwise so you can justify to yourself the purchase of an i-whatever doesn’t make it true.

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By Greg M, October 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The 19 year old Steve Jobs was a highly intelligent unemployed college dropout
with no money. Exactly what the Wall Streeters, the mainstream media and
Conservatives would call a bum, a hippie and a loser.

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By Tim Kelly, October 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Apple of today is a far, far distance from the Apple that Jobs “turned around.”  Apple products today are a step backwards in comparison to the products they put out while Jobs was gone.  When human interface experts showed user-interface efficiency improvements that Jobs didn’t like, he removed their improvements - and later removed the experts.  It was always about Jobs’ opinion.  Jobs emphasized style, not substance.  Consider that most of what everyone is buying is hardware packaging, and not actual software improvements.  There are plenty of times I still find myself frustrated at how difficult something is in OS X compared to what I could do in MacOS 9.  Jobs chromed dogsh!t and made almost everyone believe they were buying a trophy.

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By Queenie, October 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment

Just another techno-geek who confused knowledge with wisdom.

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By Billy Pilgrim, October 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

I’m afraid Robespierre is right. In the end, Jobs
sold toys. He didn’t invent the computer. He didn’t
create any new technology. He used what was there and
made it more fun for the consumer. He was creative;
he was innovative. He also catered to the insatiable
desire of a consumer driven society who always want
to purchase the next new, hot commodity. Apple never
has to run a sale on their product line. They charge
what the market will bear. Jobs could have demanded
that Apple produce a computer cheap enough for every
young person in every poor community to own and use
so every young person will have an equal chance at a
decent life. Apple has over $75 billion in cash
sitting in their coffers. Will the board members give
some of the money to charity? There’s a better chance
of Jobs coming back to life in 2 days.

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By surfnow, October 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

No,not “kind of a jerk” , a real friggin jerk. I for one am not mourning his departing any more than I would any other disseminator of useless junk that has done nothing but contaminate our Earth and diminish real communication. No wonder Korporate-MSM shills are tripping over each other to laud his “accomplishments.”

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By gerard, October 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Jobs, jobs etc.  In my opinion greed doesn’t come from fear but from the fact that money gives people access to the centers of political power.  And that, in turn, destroys the possibility of demccratic government.  The logical answer is:  Government must be set up, philosophically and legally, to refuse the blandishments of money, to refuse to let money dictate policy.

The notion that an awareness of death puts a limit on greed is far-fetched, I think. Consider the popular bumper-sticker cliche—“He who dies with the most toys, wins.” It would seem that sheer competition for competition’s sake takes over in the greed race and people become so engaged to getting more that they divorce themselves entirely from awareness of the suffering of those who do not have the basic essentials of life—food, clothing and shelter.

Chances are, Jobs was influenced mainly by a desire
to achieve excellence in producing technological equipment in the service of knowledge.

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By Robespierre115, October 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

“the Occupy people aren’t calling for an overthrow of the capitalist system; they’re calling for the greedheads, the famewhores and the powermongers to be stripped of their outsized influence over our culture, our government and our economy. They’re calling on us to reshape our values. To have values. To care.”

Unfortunately as long as the system remains capitalist, they won’t be able to accomplish any of those goals, because greed, monopolies and the consumer culture are natural branches of CAPITALISM.

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