Giving is not always good, so thank you Steve Jobs... At least Steve Jobs was not one of the philanthropic bullies who push corporate 'school reform'

The adulations for Apple’s visionary founder and CEO extraordinaire Steve Jobs poured out from every corporate media corner after his recent bout with cancer ended in his premature death at age 56. But the media death sensation left alone one glaring fact about his life.

He did not give.

While Bill Gates (above left) of Microsoft has been hailed for supposedly giving away millions of dollars for good works, the fact is that the Gates Foundation distorts fields from education to medicine by promoting certain points of view — and often irrational policies, such as "small schools" — by bullying using its money. As the reporter on this story writes, at least Steve Jobs stuck to his business and didn't try, as Bill Gates has been, to dictate everything from national education policy to how the medical world confronts HIV and malaria in Africa.And thank God for that!

“Despite accumulating an estimated $8.3 billion fortune through his holdings in Apple and a 7.4 percent stake in Disney (through the sale of Pixar), there is no public record of Mr. Jobs giving money to charity,” noted The New York Times. “He is not a member of the Giving Pledge, the organization founded by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to persuade the nation’s wealthiest families to pledge to give away at least half their fortunes. (He declined to participate, according to people briefed on the matter.) Nor is there a hospital wing or an academic building with his name on it.”

Why should we celebrate the modern day version of Mr. Scrooge?

Perhaps Mr. Jobs said it best, when he told the Wall Street Journal in 1993, “Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”

In other words, Jobs focused on his business, and he created a truly wonderful computer electronics empire with beloved gadgets like the Macintosh computer, the iPhone, the iPad and iTunes. He left social policy in the hands of the government, where it belongs.

Government is designed to redistribute that wealth through taxation to promote public infrastructure and welfare.

Corporate giving is designed to bypass the government, lower taxation of the wealthy and force government to listen to the demands of the business world which does not encourage redistributing the wealth or investing in public infrastructure.

It’s about corporate interests — lower worker costs, destroy the country’s social safety network and make the country an even friendlier place to do business.

There is no better example of this than Mr. Bill Gates, Jobs' bitter rival at one point, and depending upon the year, the world’s richest man.

Substance readers are well aware of the Gates Foundation and its grants being awarded to groups like Stand for Children, which are front groups set up to bust unions, destroy public sector pensions, job seniority and tenure and other worker protections. When the Gates millions are poured into a project, no matter how hair-brained, the project becomes a kind of secular gospel, at least for a time. "Small Schools" was one of the projects promoted by Gates, until it failed completely, and without a second thought, Gates poured his money into new and similar projects (one of the latest: "turnaround"). Not only do groups like Stand for Children get enormous amounts of money from the likes to Gates to pose as "grass roots reformers," but school districts get he money directly to promote expensive and ultimately destructive projects like "Small Schools."

And it's not only in education that the Gates dollars do damage. The Los Angeles Times, to its credit, took a close look at the Gates Foundation in a series of articles entitled “Dark Cloud over Good Works of Gates Foundation” published in the beginning of 2007. The reporters noted the fact that the foundation says it wants to help the environment and fight diseases in the third world, but then invests in the very companies that destroy the environment, and people’s health.

The perfect illustration is the Gates Foundation’s pledge to fight AIDS with a paltry $2-3 million in Africa, while investing tens of millions in pharmaceutical companies that make affordable medication almost impossible to obtain for the Africans.

The LA Times noted that at the same time the $35 billion foundation (Warren Buffet agreed to pledge another $31 billion) was funding inoculations to protect health in the Niger Delta, it invested $423 million in a number of oil companies that were responsible for polluting the Niger in ways that would not even be tolerated in the U.S.

“This is ‘the dirty secret’ of many large philanthropies, said Paul Hawken, an expert on socially beneficial investing who directs the Natural Capital Institute, an investment research group,” the LA Times said. "Foundations donate to groups trying to heal the future, but with their investments, they steal from the future."

There is no secret that the ruling class wants to own everything, in particular the opposition, or the people its policies most effect.

Take the homeless publication Streetwise as a perfect example. This weekly newspaper once covered social issues in the city in-depth and criticized the previous Daley administration for policies that resulted in increased homelessness and other social problems.

Several years ago the staff was purged, and gone were any editorials critical of the government.

Once new management took over, there was no more editorial page or in-depth investigations. It suddenly turned into the current glossy corporate brochure it is today — full of gala celebrations of billionaires patting themselves on the back as they note they’re giving “a hand up.”

The latest Streetwise issue gave the official ruling class history of grandpa Pritzker, one of whose heirs founded the Hyatt Hotels at age 26 in 1957.

Of the founding patriarch of the Pritzker family, Streetwise wrote: “He came here at age 10, spoke no English, had no job and lived in the basement of the Chicago train station,” philanthropist-entrprenuer (multi-billionaire thanks to his grandpa) J.B. Pritzker told the gala event to honor Streetwise, the paper reported. It was as if Streetwise was telling its readers (and vendors) that if they worked hard one day they, too, would become Pritzkers (who are now among the world's wealthiest family; in Chicago a dozen of them are billionaires).

“He was truly homeless and he sold the Chicago Tribune on the street corner. But he got a little bit of a hand up one day when he contracted pneumonia and was taken to what was then Michael Reese Hospital. They took his clothes off and had to burn them because of lice. But as he left a doctor gave him a dollar and said, ‘go make something of yourself.’ So I come from a family that understands what it means to get a hand up.”

So the Pritzker legend is continued an cultivated, in ways large and small. No mention of the fact there are hundreds of striking Hyatt workers this day who claim this “hands up” guy does not want to cover their medical expenses or pay a living wage to feed their families and demands that they take on more work than is physically possible.

And of course, no mention is made of the true Pritzker background, dating back to the New Deal and the organized Jewish crime syndicate.

Remember my friends, while there are those who "give," there are also no free lunches.

RIP Steve Jobs, even though your wife sits on the board of Teach for America which aims to destroy our teacher unions, but the NY Times says neither you nor your wife are listed as big donors. Thanks!


October 11, 2011 at 5:21 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Apple and Chinese sweatshops

I agree with much that was written in relation to Bill Gates and his use of philanthropy. But the relative support for Steve Jobs in Jim's article was a little over the top. To state: "Jobs focused on his business, and he created a truly wonderful computer electronics empire with beloved gadgets like the Macintosh computer, the iPhone, the iPad and iTunes. He left social policy in the hands of the government, where it belongs," really completely avoids the Chinese sweatshops Jobs used to make his gadgets. Leaving social policy in the hands of the corrupt Chinese government probably is not wise.

In 2006, the Mail on Sunday ran an article claiming that sweatshop conditions existed in factories in China, where the contract manufacturers, Foxconn and Inventec, operate the factories that produce the iPod. The article stated that one iPod factory, for instance, had over 200,000 workers that lived and worked in the factory, with workers regularly doing more than 60 hours of labor per week. The article also reported that workers made around $100 per month and were required to live on the premises and pay for rent and food from the company. Living expenses (required to keep the job) generally took up a little over half of the worker's earnings. The article also said that workers were given buckets to wash their clothes. Based on those articles Apple began yearly audits of all its suppliers regarding worker's rights, claiming to slowly be raising standards. Yearly progress reports have been published since 2008.

Since then Apple’s Supplier Responsibility reports revealed a mixed record according to the Telegraph Media Group. Less than a third of Apple’s suppliers were in 2010 meeting its requirements on working hours. That means that two-thirds of the factories which supply components for Apple’s range of products, or who assemble them, make their workers toil for more than 60 hours a week and do not give their workers one day of rest per seven working days. Apple has come under fire in China as a sweatshop brand which has based its mass production on subcontractors, without proper protections in the workplace. A report compiled by 36 environmental groups, led by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Friends of Nature, said at least 200 Chinese have been sickened by working for Apple’s suppliers.

In 2009 and 2010, Foxconn factories supplying iPhones, iPads and other devices have been described as a white collar prisons. In 2009, Foxconn guards were videotaped beating employees. Later in April 2010, four workers attempted suicide in a single month in the same factory. By May 2010, 12 workers had attempted suicide at a Foxconn operations in China.

While I am as guilty as many others in using Apple products and liking them I do not think it is necessary in any way to praise Mr. Jobs. While he was very smart and a great marketer, he also would not have made the money he did without very oppressed Chinese workers.

Rod Estvan

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