Jewish World Review Oct 7, 2011 / 9 Tishrei, 5772
Jobs and Us
By Paul Greenberg
This era has lost its Edison. Maybe its
As an inventor,
Today's Internet, with all the accesses to it that
Here was a one-man proof of supply-side economics. Who knew we needed all his inventions till he invented them?
Then they became as much a part of our lives and the world's as
The ultimate techie,
Where do such world-changers come from? America, usually. Why is that? They rise here because the American system doesn't tell them what to do and not do, how to do it and how not to, but mainly gets out of their way. And lets them reap the rewards of their enterprise. So far.
A free country leaves free men alone -- to think, invent, organize, design and change. Everything, including our lives. So long as these innovators are free to invent and organize and buy and sell, the rest of us can ride the crest of the waves they create, much like a great river putting dynamos into motion.
"Capitalism," wrote one of its foremost students, Joseph Schumpeter, "is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary." Which is something those of us in the newspaper business, and every other, might keep in mind in these woe-is-us times when we would all do better to think on the opportunities opening up all around us.
Inventors didn't stop inventing or builders building even in the depths of the Great Depression, a period of as much innovation as despair. This can be, too, unless we settle for the deceptive safety of mediocrity. Thought knows no recession.
At a time when jobs grow scarce, capital is hoarded, and all kinds of economic panaceas are being promoted (The American Jobs Act! Quantitative Easing! 9-9-9! You Name It!), the real source and strength and hope of the American economy -- and society -- may be overlooked: America still lets talent rise to the top no matter how hard the levelers keep trying to stifle it.
Everybody seems to be talking about the need for more jobs but ignoring the lesson
At his death at a much too young 56,
Amid the tributes, the society he so pervasively changed, and whose entrepreneurs will continue to change many another society, whether in the Arab world or on the Chinese mainland, might pause, as he did, to think. And ask: How assure that more Steve Jobses will be given their chance to change and improve the future for all of us?
By staying out of their way. How strange that, even while the air is full of eulogies for
We seem to have forgotten the real source of our strength: the freedom we give our most inventive and enterprising to unleash the creative destruction that is capitalism. Schumpeter called capitalism a "perennial gale of creative destruction," and only those who yearn for decline will try to fight it rather than encourage the rise of more Steve Jobses.
His whole life was a kind of commencement, an ever new beginning, an act of faith in the individually customized future he would create. What an unbounded faith the man had not only in his own inventiveness but in our ability to use it to further our own. He was a kind of poet of technology.
What a pity if the vision of such men were to die with them, and we came to be reading not just obituaries for such as
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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