Jobs, Gates, and Occupy Wall Street

By He Shifei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 24, 2011
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There is no widely agreed-upon definition of "corporate greed", which the Wall Street demonstrators are protesting against. Analogously, "true north" can also vary from individual to individual. In the book, Bill George described "true north" as a person's set of values and goals which cannot be sacrificed. However, each person's values and goals can differ greatly.

On October 5, 2011, the world became sentimental when people learned of Steve Jobs' death. The business genius and role-model received universal acclaim, not only because Apple's stock price had been rocketing, but also due to the fact that iPhones and iPads have transformed the lives of an entire generation. Together with Apple fans, business leaders, media and scholars began to compare Apple, Inc. and Microsoft, and cited Apple as the winner in this marathon of sustainable corporate development.

It might be true judging from the companies' share prices. However, we may want to pause before we draw the same conclusion from the viewpoint of leadership. Both Apple and Microsoft have built milestones during the past decades. On one hand, after Bill Gates' retirement, Microsoft has been marching forward steadily, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has supported hundreds of development projects in over 100 countries. On the other hand, we only know that Steve Jobs never brought Apple's charitable branch back after shutting it down during the company's difficult years.

Did Steve Jobs follow his internal compass? Sure. Bill George himself sees Steve as a giant.

People may argue that it is unfair to judge Steve Jobs solely on publicly-made monetary donations. And please don't get me wrong - I am not accusing the deceased. My point is, everyone's "true north" is distinct, and society as a whole cannot rely solely on the philanthropy of these business leaders.

Narrowing income disparities should be the government's responsibility. After all, the rise of corporate stars such as Apple and Microsoft alone will not result in a stable and booming society. People aren't protesting against Wall Street because they can't afford to buy an iPhone or a PC. They are protesting because the door of opportunity has been slammed in their face.

He Shifei is a Chinese freelance journalist currently living in the U.S. Her research interests include government, politics and policy studies.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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