In this Time Magazine interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook spins more confusion, deceit, and technoligopoly; a dumb press, too impressed by riches, does not know how to question and challenge. Just make a lot of money, and the world will be at your feet, is the gist of human idiocracy on display here.
Now, on the surface, Tim hits all the repetitive talking points of his public-relations script we have heard before. Nothing new until around minute 7 when he slips in how he is “deeply” a free-market person, and I burst out laughing.
An instant flashback to Christopher Hitchens’ analysis of Mother Theresa came to mind. Christopher chastised her for living off the poor rather than eliminating poverty, taking in massive amounts of money, and flying around in private jets. At the same time, children lay dying in filthy hospitals.
Tim Cook’s deep affection for free markets is more than an average miscomprehension of freedom that plagues many. Indeed, freedom, as defined by nature’s first-principles, is a dynamic relativity theory bound by paradoxical rules of engagement. Freedom is deployed as a marketplace system in which its participants’ evolution and exchange automatically recalibrate the arbitrage of said paradox.
We cannot entirely blame Tim for not understanding the kind of freedom our Constitution has also failed to define, and no school of economics has ever made a serious attempt to discover. Even though freedom is one of nature’s first-principles, everything in our universe revolves around it. What is more disturbing is how the press and public bow down to Tim’s foolish and crooked proclamations of affection for the kind of freedom Apple, in actuality, curtails.
You see, the music sold on Apple’s iTunes is a price-fixing mechanism any scholar of economics ought to recognize as the opposite of a free-market mechanism. One that escaped the purview of the Federal Trade Commission and has, therefore, quickly been replicated in the sale of other media using the Apple platform. With regulators asleep at the wheel of creative destruction, the audacity of deceit is precisely responsible for the denial of flexible pricing mechanisms that would otherwise return control to artists.
Apple has become the record label, the movie studio, the book publisher, etc., monopolizing how content and media are promoted, sold, and distributed. Technology, again, supported by a pageantry of positivity surrounding anything digital, incented to circumvent the regulation analog businesses were previously beholden to cunningly. Technology innovation is becoming the mice at play while the cat of government is away.
Tim is throwing Apple’s newfound weight, inherited by the genius of Steve Jobs, around more broadly. Tim now proclaims a unique lens through which he views society, preaching how he is focused on doing what is right. This is another laughable statement, considering Apple is embroiled in many flagrant lawsuits and has received substantial fines for overstepping its oligopoly. He ultimately laments what I predicted long ago; technology must govern itself or be governed.
Striking in Tim’s admission is his attempt to elevate the importance of Apple with a unique perspective of what is constitutionally right or wrong — going as far as refusing our government to protect national security optimally, telling the public how to use their phones, and increasingly getting involved in shaping national policy. All while under an opaque cover, invisible to public scrutiny, the company operates as a proverbial fox in the henhouse.
Indeed, nothing makes more money than selling magic to greater-fools of society, for there is an endless supply of unsuspecting greater-fools to take advantage of. This missive demonstrates that I am no greater-fool and am not buying into Tim’s religion. And neither should you.
Tim’s proclamations and involvement in national policy remind me of the equally naive people at KPCB years ago attempting to tell Barack Obama how to turn around The United States, exactly when the Mercedes of Silicon Valley venture capital firms lost its torque. In Steve Jobs’s own words, the history of Apple repeats itself.
Still a pretty savvy technologist and a long-time Apple fan, never having owned any other computer, I experience every day how Tim Cook’s poor leadership is destroying the premium experience of Apple, not just from the macro-economic perspective as referenced above but also from an attention to detail that made Apple the high-price/high-value provider of technology in the first place.
Apple is falling apart under the hood (read my detailed logs in other articles). Having been a programmer in my early days, I can tell the engineering teams at Apple are being tossed around and do not abide by a renewable overarching thesis of excellence, as evidenced by recurring mistakes in technology Apple cannot seem to get right. Apple’s products now suffer from a slow death by a thousand cuts across the board.
Apple inherited the same problem as our country: tremendous and resilient people, wrong or absent leadership, and it is, therefore, like KPCB, in no position to tell the government how to rule its roost.
A dear friend and a fantastic restauranteur for whom I have tremendous respect, owning more than fifteen restaurants, once explained how a restaurant becomes owned by its most frequenting guests. When I asked why a competing restaurant had to close its doors, he promptly answered that all that matters, in the end, is the food quality.
With their instant global reach, technology companies have a wide-open opportunity to reshape how policy should work. But they cannot and shall not, as they do now, be allowed to produce totalitarian monisms that deflate the innate plurality of humanity. They must not be allowed to create infantile systems worse than our aging constitutional systems patched up with endless proverbial band-aids.