Here is your high-resolution teachable moment of the week: anti-capitalist, anti-corporate extremists of "Occupy Wall Street" mourning Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs without a trace of irony.
While the Kamp Alinsky Kids ditch school to moan about their massive student debt, parade around in zombie costumes and whine about evil corporations over poached Wi-Fi connections, it's the doers and producers and wealth creators like Jobs who change the world. They are the gifted 1 percent whom the "99 percenters" mob seeks to demonize, marginalize and tax out of existence.
Inherent in the American success story of the iMac/iPhone/iPad is a powerful lesson about the fundamentals of capitalism. The "Occupiers" chant "people over profit." They call for "caring" over "corporations."
But the pursuit of profits empowers people beyond the bounds of imagination.
I blog on an iMac. When I travel, I bring my MacBook Pro. I Tweet news links from my iPhone. My kids are learning Photoshop and GarageBand on our Macs; they use metronome, dictation, video and camera apps daily. I use the technology for business, pleasure, social networking, raising awareness of the missing, finding recipes and even tuning a ukulele.
None of the countless people involved in conceiving these products and bringing them to market "care" about me. They pursued their own self-interests. Through the spontaneous order of capitalism, they enriched themselves -- and the world.
One of my favorite economics essays from which I've drawn bottomless inspiration is Leonard Read's "I, Pencil." He turned a mundane writing instrument into an elementary study of free-market capitalism. What goes for the pencil goes for any of the products Jobs introduced.
"I have a profound lesson to teach," Read wrote in the voice of a metaphorical lead pencil. "I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because -- well, because I am seemingly so simple. Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me."
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