sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 12, 2011

Sure Losers

Filed under: politics, society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:27 pm

There is a conviction among some conservatives that the rich are better than the rest of us, and that they deserve to be reimbursed for the risks they take and the wealth they create.  Then there is the case of Steve Jobs.

Probably the single most creative and charismatic capitalists of our era, Jobs will go down in history as one of the few true innovators of the late 20th-early 21st century, somebody who took risks, failed many times, but one whose successes are iconic.  For that he is — and should be — rewarded lavishly.

Yet reading the obituaries of the high tech visionary, I couldn’t help feeling sadness for the troubled egomaniac.  That Jobs was a difficult boss is well-known, what was new to me is that he refused to meet his biological father.  While his father implies that the decision to give up the baby for adoption was not his, but perhaps Jobs knew something that we don’t, so lets try to be understanding.

Still, what are we to think of Jobs’  attachment to youthful fantasies?  He claimed that the few times he took LSD were a life-changing experience.  Now, I’ve seen my share of 20-year-olds eagerly repeating this kind of claim, but not many middle age family men are willing to go on record saying it.

Steve Jobs and his wife raised three children, but Jobs long denied paternity of his first child.  This is a man who rejected his own absentee father.  Here is another curiosity: Jobs hired a biographer to write a book for his children to get to know him.

So the Apple founder had trouble being a man.  His persona fits neatly into our idea of a creative genius as somebody with an enormous ego, hunted by personal demons, and with a streak of childishness.  What drives creative genius remains a mystery, but perhaps if the rewards offered by capitalism weren’t so high, in other words, if he wasn’t at all greedy, Steve Jobs would have chosen another line of work.

Maybe it’s not so smart to be Steve Jobs.  If he were a little less successful, he’d be pathetic.  He was an all or nothing kind of guy, and he got it all.  He had money, and he basked in fame.  But millions of us mortals with far more modest ambitions manage to live satisfying lives.  I took my toddler for a walk this morning.  The sun was shining, and it was just warm enough to enjoy the Indian summer.  My son wanted to play on the lawn near the City Hall where the grass is green and bouncy.  And he ran around there, laughing.  I hope I never need to hire a biographer for my children to get to know me.

I’m glad that people like Jobs exist.  I’m a bit of a Luddite, actually; I take pride in not having the latest and the coolest technology.  I got my first cell in 2002.  Our household owns two Apple products, iTunes and an iPod, which tells something about our priorities.  But the thing about super industrious people like Jobs is that they create wealth, and that wealth will eventually trickle down to me.

Whether or not Steve Jobs is a better person than your average housewife is not my judgment to make.  I’m pretty certain, though, that the people with a very special kind of greed — envy — are not my betters.  Occupy Wall Street is an extreme example.  So many kids hanging out there are touting expensive gadgets and talk of elite schools they attended.  Yet they want their neighbors’ wealth.  They have the egos of Steve Jobs, but not his intellect or his creativity.  They fancy themselves working to benefit the world, but in reality they are just picking up chicks.  I hope they’ll snap out of it sooner rather than later.

Ocuupy Wall Street



  1. I never met Jobs personally, but I knew several people who were around or in his inner circle at some point in time. They spoke of his genius and his flaws in the same breath. I admire the companies (plural) Jobs built that changed the way technology works, but I hope I never try to emulate the choices he made to do it.

    Oh, we don’t have any i-stuff at home. I still buy CD’s… the horror.

    Comment by Jim Fister — October 13, 2011 @ 9:22 am

    • Jim, thank you for stopping by and commenting.
      We still buy CDs, but DH copies them onto iTunes and the iPod. I like having CDs and vinyl. Somehow downloaded music just doesn’t feel satisfying.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — October 13, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  2. Geniuses like Jobs are a breed apart and that is a good thing. I don’t think the egos of the Occupiers are anything like the ego of Steve Jobs. These young anarchists don’t know what they want only that whatever it is, they don’t want to have to work for it.

    Comment by Conservatives on Fire — October 13, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    • Oh, I think their egos are quite comparable, but the talent is just not there. It’s not just that they are free-loaders, but they fancy themselves world historic people… or something.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — October 13, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    • The OWSers want FREE STUFF.

      They know what they want… they just won’t get it because a majority of people have ethics.

      Comment by Harrison — October 14, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

  3. To quote Woody Allen (actually Alan Alda) in Crimes and Misdemeanors:

    If it bends… it’s funny. If it breaks… it’s NOT funny.

    If you’re an asshole but invent great stuff all your sins will be forgiven (unless you’re a Republican).

    What made me saddest about the Jobs thing was he authorized his biography so his children would know who he was.

    He had but one life to give and it was, sadly for his family, to Apple.

    Comment by Harrison — October 14, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

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