Katie Kieffer

The reason Obama initially met with Jobs was because Obama’s aids thought that the meeting “fit into [Obama’s] new emphasis on competitiveness.” Jobs initially didn’t want to meet. He felt that the President should have personally requested the meeting and he said: “I’m not going to get slotted in for a token meeting so that he can check off that he met with a CEO.” It took five days for his wife to convince him to go.

When they met for forty-five minutes at the Westin San Francisco Airport in the fall of 2010, Isaacson says Jobs advised Obama to reform education by busting up teachers unions. He also told the president that his anti-business regulations were forcing American companies to move manufacturing to China. He warned: “You’re headed for a one-term presidency.”

Jobs became passionate about trying to teach Obama how to reform his policies and foster American innovation; he set up a dinner for Obama to meet with tech CEOs. Interestingly, the president’s “shared sacrifice” staff co-opted Jobs’ menu and insisted that the dinner include an extravagant “cream pie tricked out with chocolate truffles … [because] the president liked cream pie,” writes Isaacson. (Clearly, the First Lady of Nutrition was not in attendance.)

Isaacson writes that Jobs offered job-creating advice to the President: ‘he stressed the need for more trained engineers and suggested that any foreign students who earned any engineering degree in the United States should be given a visa to stay in the country. Obama said that could be done only in the context of the “Dream Act.” … Jobs found this an annoying example of how politics can lead to paralysis. “The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done. It infuriates me, [Jobs later recalled.]”’

At the dinner, Jobs also explained to the president that the reason Apple employs hundreds of thousands of people in China is because Apple couldn’t find “30,000” qualified American engineers. Jobs (a college drop-out turned billionaire) insisted that four-year degrees were unnecessary to train the engineers he needed. While Obama did call Jobs afterward to further discuss training engineers, he didn’t take actions to follow through on their conversations in a way that satisfied Jobs before he died.

Jobs initially tried to make Apple “all-American.” For example, early on, Jobs held a global contest for Apple’s general designer and he flew to Germany to review designer Hartmut Esslinger’s proposal. He loved Esslinger’s idea to design Apple’s products with a “California global” flair and create a “born-in-America gene for Apple’s DNA.” However, Isaacson says Jobs would only hire Esslinger “on the condition that he move to California.”

Apple has consistently tried to use American workers and facilities as much as possible, but it is no longer practical given the lack of skilled workers, excessive government regulations and the 35 percent corporate income tax rate.

Apple is only profitable and successful because it currently does business in China. Without China, there would be no Apple. Contrary to popular opinion, technology companies spend more on materials than on labor overseas. For instance, rare-earths are key components to iPods and iPads that can cost up to $130 per lb. The U.S. used to lead the world in mining rare-earths through a California mine called Molycorp. However, environmental regulations sent this mine into extinction and the U.S. lost her competitive technology advantage. Today, China produces roughly 97 percent of all rare-earths.

Jobs’ instincts were capitalistic. He was not a profiteer. Nor was he into sharing or redistributing; his goal was to transform the world by producing “insanely great” products that would allow the masses (not just rich people like Obama and Buffett) to access freedom-enhancing technology. As his wife told Isaacson, “…he cares deeply about empowering humankind, the advancement of humankind and putting the right tools in their hands.”

Steve Wozniak was Jobs’ friend and initial partner in building Apple. Wozniak was the shy engineering genius behind Apple’s initial technology. However, without Jobs’ capitalistic instinct, Wozniak’s ideas would never have created a single job (even for himself). Wozniak told Isaacson, “I designed the Apple I because I wanted to give it away for free to other people.” Isaacson writes: “If it had not been for Jobs, he [Wozniak] might still be handing out schematics of his [circuit] boards for free at the back of Homebrew [tech information swap] meetings. It was Jobs who turned his ingenious ideas into a budding business.”

2011 was Apple’s last year with Jobs at the helm and Apple even outdid big oil (Exxon Mobil) in per employee profits, reports The New York Times. Profits allow businesses like Apple to create jobs, offer valuable stocks to millions of individual investors and provide millions of Americans with cutting edge technology tools like iPhones, iPods, iPads and MacBooks at the lowest possible prices. Ultimately, profit is the most powerful tool whereby businesses improve society.

In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama promised to make things even harder for companies like Apple who are forced to do business in China, saying: “no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards [subsidizing the tax burden of smaller companies that only do business in America].”

Obama said his socialist plan of “shared sacrifice” would result in “an economy built to last” that supports “everyone who’s willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”

And Obama “solved” Apple’s engineer issue by telling taxpayers to subsidize their educations: “Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need...” Meanwhile, he bullied taxpayers to subsidize costly four-year college educations: “Extend the tuition tax credit … States also need to do their part [by increasing college tuition subsidies]. Higher education can’t be a luxury—it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

Obama even bragged about how he’s going to crack down on piracy; I think he should start by walking the walk. Before daring to misrepresent and mooch off Jobs by mentioning his name in the same sentence as his anti-business agenda, Obama should read Isaacson’s biography. As Gov. Mitch Daniels diplomatically said in response to Obama’s speech: “…he must know in his heart that this is not true.

President Ronald Reagan bestowed Jobs and Wozniak with America’s very first National Medal of Technology. In contrast, President Obama largely ignored Jobs’ success and advice during his lifetime and then invited Jobs’ widow to hear him attack the capitalistic system that allowed Jobs to succeed. Obama has rejected Jobs’ pro-business ideas like lowering the costs of doing business (taxes), reducing regulations and reforming education. If Jobs is looking down on earth, I’m sure he is still “disappointed in Obama.”


Katie Kieffer

Katie Kieffer is a columnist and political commentator. She runs KatieKieffer.com. Kieffer is the author of the forthcoming book "LET ME BE CLEAR."