This month we lost an industry pioneer and a master innovator who created wealth for the masses. Steve Jobs, former CEO and chairman of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), had the knack for taking technology, with all its ones and zeroes, innate hardware, and limited beauty, and turning it into something brilliant. His legacy should be a wakeup call to get back to making technology more innovative and applicable than ever, perhaps even giving us the ability to right this sinking economic ship.
There have been multiple stories about how investors are walking away from technology development, but Apple keeps demonstrating that when we focus on making products attractive to the market, the bottom line will take care of itself. For example, the general consensus about the iPhone 4S was that it was a tepid product release at best, and many predicted this would be the first indication that Apple was on the way down. A few days later, Apple announced the iPhone 4S had broken all records for pre-orders of a new product. Apparently, consumers did not read the reviews of the pundits. Otherwise, they might have known they were buying a "boring" product. (See: Apple: Beyond Steve Jobs.)
In fact, Apple's advancement in speech recognition for Siri shows how it is accelerating technology through human interaction and acceptance. Herein lies the opportunity to push technology and innovation as far as possible, creating value for the user first and wealth as a byproduct for those who help fund that R&D and its associated investments.
Today's reality features protests on Wall Street, ugly 401K retirement accounts, rising college education costs, and company executives mired down in anxiety about the future. Survival mode kicks in when our only focus is how to remain employed. When that happens, we have to remember the reason we got into the field of engineering and technology development -- to make the world a better place. To this end, and for the sake of our economic survival, let's get out there and honor Steve Jobs, and all our industry pioneers, and do inspiring work with impact. That's our long-term goal. But what we can do in the short term?
How about we memorialize this great innovator by asking the White House to amend the American Jobs Act? According to AP's Erica Werner, President Obama's curent plan "would reduce payroll taxes on workers and employers, extend benefits to long-term unemployed people, spend money on public works projects, and help states and local governments keep teachers, police officers, and firefighters on the job."
The bill is the right thing to do, but let's request two additional aspects to be included:
- Help the long-term unemployed get retrained with deferred/forgiven education costs.
- Assign $50 billion to technology funding and innovation support in the form of federal grants of $25,000 to $100,000 each to help our country solve today's technology problems such as energy, communications, and manufacturing competitively.
Perhaps politicians can come together and agree on this one thing. Enhancing the bill would give us even more opportunity to help ourselves and honor one of the masters of industry, who created wealth for the masses and inspired us all to think big and dare to be great.
Hey, Washington, we want a great jobs bill. This one is a lay-up. Just do it!
Contact Congress here and President Obama by clicking here.