What would be Steve Jobs’ fate after dropping from college in other time or place? I’m not trying to diminish Jobs’ personality ignoring his strong character, ingenuity, creativity or any other of his virtues abundantly praised after his death. Not even I’m trying to conceal his Darwinian adaptation to the capitalistic wild rules: kill or be killed. I’m just trying to counterbalance his traits as an individual with the environmental conditions he found.
This article speculates that in other places (some European countries, most of Latin American ones) the web of regulations (like the prohibition to manufacture goods in a garage) would curb his entrepreneur instinct and make him fail (can you imagine a world without Apple goods? brrrr…!). The obvious intention of the writer is to praise the American liberal approach to economy and to call for deregulation in other places. We know well what this means: lack of protection for the workers’ rights, health and security measures for the sake of capital rate of profit. Once you transcend the stage of do-it-yourself manufacturing in a garage and step in capitalist competition you’re no more an individual but a social actor and you become forced to act according the rules to survive. No matter your personal sentiments.
The other factor for a starting up enterprise to thrive without an initial big inversion is to do it in a new branch, when its technology is still scarcely disseminated. By the late seventies electronics were based on transistors and the PC chip revolution was still difficult to become adopted by large established companies like IBM, oriented to corporate business. The field of family consumers was empty for Jobs or Gates to graze and grow. But, in the end, they had to struggle to survive killing the competition and exploiting workers (even if they jump from the windows of the factory desperate to escape from slavery as in the Chinese one manufacturing Apple’s goods).
Last but not least: yes, deregulation matters. The deregulation measures went started by Nixon in a desperate effort to save the capitalists from the stagnation by the end of the Keynesian post-war era. He started abandoning the gold standard for currency and easing the issue of stocks and shares for futures by speculative, non productive companies. Reaganomics and its followers meant the frenzy of this way of creating virtual wealth, which means: creating a monstrous web of debts that can’t be canceled; not even selling all the goods existent in the world. And that’s the secret behind the present crisis: that something has to give and a share of those debts/virtual wealth has to melt in the air.