The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTunes, i, I, I,But the Rabbi immediately faced harsh criticism that forced him to retract his statements.
I support Rabbi Sachs for criticising Steve Jobs and am disappointed that he did not have the courage to stand by his words.
We all know that Steve Jobs was a great innovator that changed the world. That has been widely established There is now a generation of kids who literally venerate - practically idolize - him for his contributions.
All the more reason that it is necessary for someone like Rabbi Sachs to remind us that nobody, no matter how great, is infallible or absolved from criticism. In fact, in Jewish tradition, the greater the individual the harsher they are judged.
It was certainly inappropriate to criticize Steve Jobs at the time of his death, but some time has past and I believe it is appropriate and necessary to evaluate this character who has become a legendary icon and decide which aspects of his life should be emulated and which should be eschewed.
There were certainly aspects of Steve Jobs character that were deserving of criticism.
- Apple computers was accused and admitted to all kinds of human rights violations, inhumane working conditions, and exploitation of child labor in its factories in China where ipods, ipads, and iphones were made. In this regard Jobs made Shlomo Rubashkin look like a humanitarian.
- One of the first moves that Steve Jobs made as CEO of Apple was to end its company charitable contribution programs. Ostensibly it was to save money, but when Apple started turning billions in profits Jobs never reinstated the programs. Apple is one of the few companies of its size that does not encourage charity by matching employee donations.
- Most of all, Steve Jobs may represent the worst example of radical stinginess since the people of the ancient city of Sodom. Jobs gave virtually zero personal charity in his lifetime despite the fact that he was one of the richest men of the planet. Never before had someone so wealthy given so little. He may stand out as the most uncharitable person in the history of the world.
Henry Ford was a great innovator who changed the world, possibly more than Steve Jobs, but overall he was not someone that good people wish to emulate. Will those who venerate Steve Jobs seek to emulate only the best of what he contributed to the world, or was the Chief Rabbi correct and he will leave a legacy of consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and misery? Only time will tell, but I applaud the Chief Rabbi for beginning the conversation. It is just too bad that he retreated to censorship.