RUSH: Apple made its money on profit. Up until the iPod, they didn’t have a mass market product. They had a niche product. The Mac was a niche product, it still is compared to the number of PCs out there. But it’s more profitable than any other PC is, unit by unit. This is a fascinating story: “Last year the founder of the Stanford Social Innovation Review called Apple one of ‘America’s Least Philanthropic Companies.'” Yeah, they accused Apple of not being charitable at all, and one of the reasons why is that Steve Jobs “had terminated all of Apple’s long-standing corporate philanthropy programs within weeks after returning to Apple in 1997.” And the reason he did it? He had “to cut costs until profitability rebounded.”
So he got rid of the philanthropy and a number of other things. But the philanthropic programs have never been restored. He didn’t bring ’em back once the profitability hit. And so he was attacked by all these people that judge and measure the philanthropic activity of various corporations. CNNMoney.com had the story. Now, Kevin Williamson at National Review had a comment on this. “CNN, being CNN, misses the point. Mr. JobsÂ’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.” In a lot of cases he gave them a better life.
You stop and think, how many jobs exist in the world today because of Steve Jobs? How many worldwide? Just the Apple supply chain, the components in every one of their product, how many jobs did Steve Jobs create in pursuing his dreams and his passions? And it reminds me of our old buddy Walter Williams. Walter Williams said a bunch of things I like, but one of my favorites is his tirade on this whole notion that the successful have an obligation to give something back. Why? There’s not an obligation to give something back. Their inventions, their creations, their success is its own contribution. The people who need to give something back are the literal thieves, people who are stealing from others, people who are engaged in criminal activity. Those are the people that need to be giving it back. What did Jobs have to give anything back for, or Bill Gates, for that matter, or anybody? But this is political correctness.
This is another thing. Jobs was fearless. He didn’t care what the philanthropist community said of him. He didn’t care about lawyers. I’ll tell you something else. Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs had another thing in common, and that is they were sued constantly over patents, patents infringement. Samsung is trying to sue Apple out of business right now in France and Spain and a number of other places. Apple is countersuing, saying Samsung is stealing their stuff. Samsung supplies a lot of components for Apple stuff. It’s intricately involved. But Jobs isn’t afraid of lawyers. How many people don’t do something because of the fear of being sued or having some sort of investigation, legal activity surround what they do?
So there’s a lesson. Don’t be afraid of lawyers. It stands in the way of creativity. There’s a lot to learn from Steve Jobs.