One More Great Lesson From Steve Jobs: Innovation Begins As A Social Movement
Hardly anything unites Americans anymore--except for the death of Steve Jobs. His passing and the deep mourning for him across political, generational, and cultural divides remind us that we all can agree on one thing--that it is Jobs’s kind of capitalism, entrepreneurial capitalism, that we love, because it generates the incredible fun that comes with creating the new. His death reminds us that the big, disruptive innovations almost always come from entrepreneurs who embody their following and enable the dreams and talents that they have inside and haven’t yet expressed. It reminds us that all net new job growth in the U.S. comes from startups and businesses five years old or younger that begin in garages, college dorm rooms, or Starbucks cafés.
Above all, Jobs’s passing reminds us that entrepreneurial capitalism is not simply some rational economic market phenomenon but a social movement that binds groups of people together in communities of like interests and deep emotions. Think of the important innovations of our day that are changing our lives--Facebook, Twitter, Zipcar, YouTube, eBay, Amazon, iTunes/iPod/iPhone/iPad--and you find new social communities interacting on new platforms. Add them all up and you see entrepreneurial capitalism itself as a social movement that we join, participate in, and help create ourselves.
Contrast that to the crony capitalism that Occupy Wall Street is protesting against. This kind of capitalism has Wall Street no longer allocating capital to businesses so they can grow--which is its central economic and social function. With crony capitalism, banks and hedge funds trade for their own account--often with government-guaranteed savings and with government safety nets if they fail. With crony capitalism, big businesses, with a handful of exceptions, stop innovating and no longer generate jobs, income, or taxes for America. What crony capitalists have come to excel at is to game the political, regulatory, and tax system to favor their special interests. This anger against crony capitalism crosses the political spectrum.