Thank You, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has died at age 56.  Jobs, who co-founded Apple and then returned after a decade-long absence to turn the struggling Apple into the world’s most profitable company, had long battled pancreatic cancer.

Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple rolled out personal computers, laptops, iPods, iPhones, and iPads — all products that helped to create and define the booming consumer electronics industry.  He was reputed to be relentless in pushing his employees to meet impossible deadlines, surmount daunting technological hurdles, create new features, and constantly push, push, push the envelope.  As a result, he spurred Apple’s development as the world’s strongest brand — characterized by high-quality ground-breaking products with ultra-cool designs that came in sleek packaging and were advertised by iconic campaigns.  In the process, he created legions of dedicated and loyal Apple consumers like me.  But Jobs did more than that.  Apple’s enormous success encouraged competitors and other entrepreneurs to develop ever-improving products at ever-low prices.  It’s one reason why the consumer electronics industry remains one of the strongest sectors of the global economy.

When a person is as driven as Steve Jobs was supposed to be, you wonder if they ever paused to reflect on what they have accomplished.  When Henry Ford saw  roads where horses had once trotted filled with Model Ts, and formerly empty lots give rise to automobile, steel, and rubber factories employing hundreds of thousands of workers, what did he think?  When Steve Jobs walked through an airport and saw countless travelers listening to iPods, playing games on iPhones, or watching movies on iPads, did he feel a sense of immense satisfaction at his achievements — or was he thinking solely about the next great product?

Whether he fully appreciated it or not, Jobs had a profound impact and improved the lives of millions of people — whether they were consumers who revel in their Apple products or people employed by the companies who make, package, or market the products that Jobs helped create.

Thank you, Steve Jobs!  May you rest in peace.

A Heap of Trouble

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Bob often writes about the problems of the University of Michigan football team, but those problems pale in comparison to the problems the state of Michigan has, and more specifically the city of Detroit. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I happened to stumble on to some pictures shown in this article of downtown Detroit and I am wondering how does this happen ?

In 1913 Detroit was the world’s car capital with Henry Ford building the first of his factories employing 90,000 workers to supply the growing American middle class with fairly inexpensive transportation, the Model T. Yet in less than 100 years Michigan is facing a $2 billion dollar shortfall and a loss of 500,000 residents since 2001.

The state is caught in a downward spiral that has the states youngest, best and brightest choosing to move out of the state which leaves less people to pay for needed services and higher taxes for those that stay.

Since the youngest are leaving the state in big numbers the population is becoming increasing older, meaning more Medcaid payments, not to mention the states very high unemployment rate of 13%.

I wonder what happens to a state if they can’t get these trends turned around ? Yesterday I heard Ben Bernanke say that the Federal Reserve will not get involved in state bailouts and I don’t think I am in favor of the federal government doing so, but it’s ashame to see such a dramatic decline in what was once such a vibrant city.

Hopefully this isn’t the trend of things to come.