Steve Jobs for Governor?

We bought 500 shares of Apple stock in 2005 at $40 a share.  Today those same shares, still in our account, hit $422.  That is all that really needs to be said about the genius of California’s Steve Jobs.

Jobs is probably responsible for more “jobs” in California than most living politicians here.  Certainly more than Barack Obama.  Born in San Francisco and based in Cupertino, he is certainly responsible for more wealth in this state than just about any other one person.  He co-founded Apple computer company in 1976, and over time invented a great computer operating system, along with the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad; created the iTunes Library, invented Apple TV (the next great leap in technology will dovetail off this invention) and made huge advances in pictoral animation through Pixar Animation Studios, which created such wonderful films as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, and Ratatouille.  (He also inspired Cars II but that one we won’t talk about.  Nobody is perfect.)

I don’t know anything about Steve Jobs’ politics.  I know he was adopted, studied Buddhism (hey, I was raised in the Bay Area, I can handle it), and told a graduating class at Stanford that he didn’t complete college because he didn’t want to waste his parents’ money.  Wow!  I don’t need to know much about Steve Jobs’ politics to know I like him and think the world has been made very much better by him.

Jobs career could have been over when the Apple board decided to side with outsider business manager John Scully to lead the company, which was subsequently almost run into the ground.  But in 1996, Jobs returned to Apple and seized back operational control in September, 1997.  Already a multi-millionaire, he didn’t need the work.  But he loved to create, and his creations had the affect of building wealth, jobs, and doing more for our economy than any government hand-out program a liberal Democrat might dream up.  Today, all one needs do to bask in Jobs glow is visit your local Apple retail store.  It will be packed, not only with great devices, but people; and in the middle of a great recession.  Apple is a hugely successful company, has no debt, and at one point this month had more cash on hand than the Federal government.  Today it is worth in excess of $300 billion, and is competing with Exxon-Mobil for the right to say it is the most valuable company on the planet Earth.

On August 24, Jobs wrote a letter to staff and shareholders stating that he could “no longer meet duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO.”  He had received a liver transplant in 2009, but health problems persisted.

As a fairly seasoned political observer and someone who worked throughout the eight years of the Reagan Administration in senior executive positions in the Federal government, I’ve known first hand how government really works, day-by-day.  And I’ve heard a lot of politicians talk about how government should operate “more like a business.”  None of them, even Ronald Reagan, have been thoroughly successful in making government more efficient and responsive, as if it “were a business.”  We’ve had plenty of business people, and Hollywood celebrities, and “community organizers,” elected to high government positions, but the net result today is financial chaos and among the highest unemployment rates in our nation’s history.  And all the time Apple was growing explosively under Steve Jobs, with no debt.

I’ll bet that Steve Jobs would have been a great Governor of California.  But I think he has done just fine, even better for California, our nation, and the world, as simply the leader of Apple Computer.  He has had more impact in the private sector than any elected official.  Perhaps there is a lesson there for those earnest and talented young men and women in our state who aspire to create and lead.