Steve Jobs Heroically Resisted Politics

Steve Jobs
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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a world improver.

Unlike many folks who strive to improve the world, however, he doesn't seem to have believed that government was the path to improvement.

As my brother Tim Carney points out, Jobs and Apple never really bought into the Washington game.

Steve Jobs just passed away, we learned tonight. He changed the world through his creativity and his will. Compared to his competitors, though, he didn't really try to change the world through politics.

Under Jobs, Apple largely avoided the unseemly games of campaign contributions and lobbying.

Consider this extraordinary fact: Despite being a $100-billion-a-year company in a rapidly changing industry, Apple never formed a political action committee.

Also, Apple spent less on lobbying than its competitors.

Tim writes that staying out of politics takes "courage." But it takes even more than that: determination.

Although we often think of lobbying as a company deciding to pressure politicians to adopt favorable policies, the truth of the matter is very different. Washington lobbyists actually come to companies to spark lobbying campaigns, warning executives that if they don't start making political donations (and paying fees to lobbyists) there will be dire consequences. Washington shakes down corporate America.

Tim quotes from a very revealing story in Politico:

While Apple’s success has earned rock-star status in Silicon Valley, its low-wattage approach in Washington is becoming more glaring to policymakers….

It is one of the few major technology companies not to have a political action committee….

Compared with other tech giants, Apple’s lobbying expenditures are small. In 2009, Apple spent only $1.5 million to lobby the federal government, less than Amazon, Yahoo and IBM. In 2009, Google, for example, spent $4 million, Microsoft $7 million and AT&T $15 million….

“They’ve been very focused on their own innovation, and they don’t have a history of coming to town to get their competitors regulated,” said Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology. “But they’re expanding into so many areas that they’re going to find themselves in other companies’ cross hairs, so they probably should be ready to play defense.”

Apple's resistance to this shake down is extraordinary.

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