Silliness on Steve Jobs’ Legacy as a “Job Creator”

Tim Noah has a blog post attacking Eric Cantor, who can stick up for himself, but Noah also unfortunately slandered Steve Jobs, who cannot.

I was writing an email to Noah to address this problem, but I figured that a brief discussion of this issue may come in handy to my readers as they mull the question of whether they should join the Occupiers in their fight against “the 1%,” or instead defend these rich people as “job creators,” so I decided to post my note on this blog (and direct Noah to it via email). The note is below.



You write,

Actually, as I noted on the sad occasion of his untimely death, Steve Jobs, though a remarkable man and an admirably creative entrepreneur, was not much of what Cantor likes to call a “job-creator” (assuming we’re talking about jobs created inside the U.S.). Henry Ford had more than 100,000 people working for him just in Michigan’s River Rouge plant during the 1930s. That’s more than twice as many people as Apple today employs around the world.

I’ve read enough of your previous smart analyses to be surprised that you’d write something so silly.

If we truly want to account for how many jobs Steve Jobs “created,” we should compare the number of employed people in the current universe to the number of employed people in the hypothetical universe where Steve Jobs was never born (e.g. where he was aborted rather than put up for adoption by his birth mother). Unfortunately this analysis is far more complicated than simply counting how many people work at Apple, and probably beyond the scope of anything we humans can ever hope to achieve in full, but it may still be worthwhile for me to provide you a few pointers to nudge you in the direction of a closer approximation to a complete analysis.

As Elizabeth Warren reminded us, a business owner has a lot more to thank than his own ingenuity for his success — he is indebted to those (taxpayers) who funded the roads he used, the police force he relies on, and so on. Perhaps, if she’d thought of it, she would have included the business owner’s Apple products in the list of things that facilitate his business success, and that thus are partially responsible for allowing him to hire as many people as he does.

Also, why exclude app developers, people who have gone into the business of attaching iPods to bracelets, and others who make their living creating products that complement Apple’s?

And what about the people who work at Amazon, Samsung, and Microsoft — surely some of them owe gratitude to Jobs for inventing a product of which they are now paid to create knockoffs.

Lastly, I hope you extrapolate from this example. Next time you are on the verge of attacking Obama’s record by counting how many people are on his staff and then asserting that he can have created no more than 500 or so jobs, think twice!


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