The Corner

Apple vs. Politics, Part II

While we were all shaking our heads about the jackassery of Todd Akin today, Apple became the most valuable company in the history of publicly traded firms. 

In my obituary of Steve Jobs, I noted:

 

Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates. Those who talk about the horror of putting profits over people make no sense at all. The phrase is without intellectual content. Perhaps you do not think that Apple, or Goldman Sachs, or a professional sports enterprise, or an Internet pornographer actually creates much social value; but markets are very democratic — everybody gets to decide for himself what he values. That is not the final answer to every question, because economic answers can satisfy only economic questions. But the range of questions requiring economic answers is very broad.

I was down at the Occupy Wall Street protest today, and never has the divide between the iPhone world and the politics world been so clear: I saw a bunch of people very well-served by their computers and telephones (very often Apple products) but undeniably shortchanged by our government-run cartel education system. And the tragedy for them — and for us — is that they will spend their energy trying to expand the sphere of the ineffective, hidebound, rent-seeking, unproductive political world, giving the Barney Franks and Tom DeLays an even stronger whip hand over the Steve Jobses and Henry Fords. And they — and we — will be poorer for it.

You may have noticed that Exchequer posting has been light for the past couple of months, which is because I am finishing up a book on the above thesis: that there are basically two ways of approaching difficult problems, one of which looks like the iPhone, the other of which looks like Washington. Apple is at a record market capitalization, Washington is in record debt: There’s a nice symmetry there.

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