Which is a better friend to America: Bill Gates and Microsoft or Steve Jobs and Apple?
1.) Approach to Philanthropy
A sham entrepreneur is a short-term thinker. He uses philanthropy to push socialist policies that will boost his immediate self-esteem and influence while damaging the long-term outlook for entrepreneurship.
Gates partners with Warren Buffett to urge billionaires to take a public “Giving Pledge” to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. Unfortunately, this appears to be a way for Gates to get public recognition while sending the message that charity must be broadcasted. More important, it is counteractive for Gates to encourage voluntary charity and coerced charity (via higher taxes) simultaneously.
Gates is pompous about his philanthropy and he under-appreciates entrepreneurial passion. Gates told Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson: “Here I am, merely saving the world from malaria and that sort of thing, and Steve is still coming up with amazing new products. Maybe I should have stayed in that game.”
Today, Gates is the non-executive chairman of Microsoft (he handed the CEO reigns over to Steve Ballmer). I get the sense that Gates enjoyed competition and making money more than ensuring Microsoft lasted for future generations.
Jobs told Isaacson: “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. … Bill likes to portray himself as a man of the product, but he’s really not. He’s a businessperson. Winning business was more important than making great products. … Even when they [Microsoft] saw the Mac, they couldn’t copy it well. … I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company … You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.”
Overall, Gates pushes for higher taxes as a way to solve U.S. and global budgetary problems. He takes credit for “saving the world” when a big part of what he does is ask the government to tell people how to spend their own money.
I think that the best way a company can “help” the world is by being profitable and enduring. Apple helps the world primarily by creating and selling extraordinary products and secondarily via traditional philanthropy. For example:•
The affordability of iPhones and iPads “democratizes” technology and information. Steve Jobs wanted to make technology a tool for freedom by making it affordable to most Americans; by making Apple profitable, he was able to fulfill this goal.•
iPad technology has helped disabled Americans vote in private.•
U.S. troops in Afghanistan heavily utilize iPhones.•
The iPad is an intuitive device that is a blessing to mothers and fathers everywhere. Very young children who have never seen or used computers can instinctively use it. iPads support educational games that, when used judiciously, help teach and engage children. And, iPads playing white noise have been known to soothe cranky children into falling asleep.•
Apple creates or supports 514,000 jobs in America and an additional 23,000 jobs globally.•
As the most valuable company in the world, Apple creates profits for its shareholders and bolsters the U.S. economy.•
Apple pays its legal share of taxes and nothing more; Apple will not bail out the U.S. government’s wasteful spending. Apple is the biggest taxpayer in Cupertino, CA (Apple headquarters), paying over $8 million in annual property taxes. Globally, Apple paid at least $3.3 billion in taxes last year. In order to maximize profits to shareholders, Apple utilizes legal tax incentives to shift some profits overseas to more competitive tax rates and avoid the combined federal-state U.S. corporate income tax rate of 39.2 percent (the highest in the world).•
Apple donates silently. Apple matches employee donations to a long list of vetted charities. Apple also gave “…Stanford University more than $50 million in the past two years. The company also donated over $50 million to an African aid organization,” reports The New York Times.
2.) Approach to Public Policy
Sham Entrepreneur: Makes his money and runs. He does not care about defending the free market system for future generations; he cares about his public image. If the president is a socialist who “budgets” by raising taxes, a sham entrepreneur (like Gates) will tell the media that tax hikes are necessary because: “You’ve gotta fund the government somehow.”
Real Entrepreneur: Challenges the government, even if he or she is a member of the ruling political party. Jobs, for example, was a life-long Democrat. However, he was vocal about his capitalistic beliefs and he persistently challenged Obama to decrease business regulations. Jobs led by example, teaching the next generation of tech entrepreneurs to defend their businesses. Just look at what happened when entrepreneurs like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales publicly opposed SOPA and PIPA; freedom prevailed over big government.
Overall, I think it is unethical for Gates to use capitalism to achieve billionaire status and then publicly advocate tax policies that will destroy capitalism. I think Gates has a responsibility to stand up to our bully government and defend his freedom and private property rights. For, by defending his rights, he will help ensure that babies—future generations of American entrepreneurs—have the same opportunities to achieve success that he had.
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