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  • Morning Bell: Steve Jobs and American Exceptionalism

    Steve Jobs, who died yesterday at the too-young age of 56, was a living refutation of all that liberals constantly tell us about our country — that we’re falling behind others and live now in a “post-American world,” as one of Barack Obama’s favorite books puts it in its title.

    As anyone who’s ever handled an Apple product or had his life improved by the technological innovations our system has produced in just a decade (that means all of us) will tell you, Jobs and innovators like him epitomize that immeasurable quality the left somehow finds most abject — American exceptionalism.

    The meme of the left is that drudgery and mediocrity is not just our future but probably also our just deserts–for being too imperialistic, consumerist, wasteful, patriarchal, or what have you. (For an inexhaustible list of all our ills and sins, please check with the mob gathered at the “Occupy Wall Street” protest.) One should compare this deadened vision with the wonders Jobs wrought.

    Apple Computer, the company Jobs founded at the age of 21 along with his friend Steve Wozniak, was valued at the close of business yesterday at $350 billion and some change, more than $100 billion ahead of Microsoft. General Electric, another American giant, weighed in at less than half the price, $161 billion. Ford, GM and Volkswagen? Respectively, $40 billion, $35 billion and $42 billion. That should give some idea of where we are in the 21st century.

    That beauty contest, how much a company is worth, is a result of decisions made by millions of investors voting with people’s savings (that is, for most of us, the sweat of our brow and our hedge against an uncertain future). Investors voted for Jobs’ company because consumers loved its products, and consumers bought Apple products not because they were ordered to do so by central planners but because they saw them as magic.

    From computing to music to journalism, Jobs changed the way the world did its business and leisure. Very little of what we do today has not been impacted somehow by Jobs and his company. He certainly changed my life from my first Apple III with floppy discs almost 30 years ago, costing about $6000 and possessing a small fraction of the capabilities of my streamlined new iPad 2, all at less than 10 percent of the cost of that early dinosaur.

    Macs, with their trademark coloring and sleek design, transformed the way people came to see computers, from gizmos only nerds understood or liked to things almost as organic as the partly bitten apples of the ever-present logos. Creative designing and thinking flowed naturally from a Mac, powering the creativity and productivity that have become the hallmark of the American economy, our present problems notwithstanding. In music, Jobs changed the industry by taking it digital.

    As for journalism and reading in general, we have now gone back to where we started: the biblical tablet. The elegant slab we take with us wherever we go can do the same for us and take us, no matter where we are, anywhere in the universe our imagination wants to visit.

    All this was the result of the happy coincidence of genius in an individual and a system. Jobs was an individual with special DNA, no question. But this half-Arab boy who was given up for adoption at birth and went on to drop out of college was able to transform the lives of individuals across the world because he lived and worked in this country.

    The genius of the American system is comprised of the rule of law, respect for private property and the freedom of the individual to strive to be better than himself and his neighbor and reap the rewards that come from his innate abilities and effort. All of these and many other liberties are safeguarded in our Constitution. It is all part of what makes us an exceptional country.

    This is not to say that we don’t have problems. We are indeed falling behind — not behind other countries but behind our promise and potential. Our government spends too much, tries to tell us how to run our private lives, and ties down in red tape the genius that brought you Apple. The great and sometimes cacophonous debate we are having in our country at the moment results from the fact that Americans have finally woken up to the threat our system confronts and are doing something about it.

    This is not what you hear. Daily we are told by our government leaders, the media, and academia that we are as exceptional only in the way that every other country on the U.N. roll, from Albania to Zimbabwe, is exceptional. We are told that we have to manage our decline as a power and that the great debate over ideas that we’re having is evidence that “our politics is broken.” Typically, a columnist from a Manhattan paper has titled his most recent book That Used to Be Us, a line, we’re sad to say, that came straight from a speech by Barack Obama.

    This is nonsense. Steve Jobs may have given to liberal causes and politicians throughout his life, but his life proved the existence of the American Dream. As anyone who’s Googled something in her iPad and then Tweeted about it will tell you, Steve Jobs and those like him symbolize American Exceptionalism every day.

    Edwin J. Feulner
    President, The Heritage Foundation

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    57 Responses to Morning Bell: Steve Jobs and American Exceptionalism

    1. Brent says:

      Well written, sir … I'm glad Steve Jobs and others like him represent the true greatness of this Nation. Those who subscribe to the negativity of the left will not lead us well into the future.

    2. Jim Bozek says:

      Amen Ed. If we think "that used to be us" it will be. To try to sell that notion to people is down right immoral, and can have only a debilitating purpose in mind. American Exceptionalism won't stand for it!

    3. bob rack says:

      Man you are a brilliant thinker and exceptional writer.

    4. Dr. Deborah Hall says:

      This is a beautiful elegy to our American dream, which lives and revives and flourishes due to dreamers like Steve Jobs. As Brooks and Dunn sing: "Only in America, we dream as big as we want to. Mr. Feulner, your great Foundation is one of the key organizations upholding and building our freedom. Thank you for all your dedicated and patriotic work every day. We all know, and are frankly scared by, the critical importance of the 2012 election. Heritage strengthens us by giving us courage and analysis and ideas with which to win. Thank you.

    5. ruthcarlson says:

      Great connection of Jobs to American Exceptionalism.

      I think there is also a point to be made about how Steve Jobs invented so many things without government subsidies.

    6. fury says:

      Excellent homage to a great enterprising man who not only lived his own personal American Dream, but left a rich legacy having facilitated so many American Dreams for others to realize. He changed the landscape of our society, and made it a better place to live, learn, and aspire to be great. His contributions will live on as will his memory.
      Indeed he reminds us of the greatness of our country, unlike the nightmare occupying our White House.

    7. bradfregger says:

      There is not doubt that Jobs was the visionary of the computer age. … But, you forgot to mention how he shook up the entire communications industry with the iPhone. Was this just an oversight?

    8. Neal says:

      Bravo! I loved this article. Thank you.

    9. Whether or not you knew Steve Jobs, you can't help but feel a sense of loss for the entire country. Why? He represents that part of America, the entrepreneur, the risk taker, the spirit that so many on the Left want to replace or destroy.
      Gerald Meunier, author
      Rogue Patriot, a Clay Holt Thriller http://www.GeraldMeunier.com

    10. Carol M Kite says:

      The world has lost the Einstein of our generation with the passing of Steve Jobs, far too young. With the vision he generated, hopefully the technology development will ever continue. My heartfelt sympathy to his family & loved ones, all those who enjoyed his company, personal or work-related. It's evident he will be sorely missed. He gave his all right to the end, his visionary spirit now in another place, surely he's blessed.

    11. Lloyd Benjamin says:

      Steve Jobs was exceptional, and the freedom that existed (exists?) in the United States of America, along with focus,dedication and commitment allowed that exceptionalism to flourish. The United States Government is now dedicated to punishing exceptionalism and rewarding sloth and is taking away the freedom to create jobs that existed just two generations ago. We must get back to a smaller government influence in our lives if we are going to reward the excellence of the "Steve Jobs" present in our country.
      God Bless America.

    12. Yvonne Locklary says:

      Thank you for this artical ,helps me to remember the America I remember, not perfect, but having great opportunity and freedom to pursue your hopes and dreams without a whole lot of interference. I wish Americans would wake up and take notice of what is going on in our goverment before its too late. Please keep puttung this kind of information out there .

    13. Jaybee99 says:

      RIP, Steve Jobs. It's sad to lose such an icon to American ingenuity and success. He changed our world.

    14. Annonymous says:

      phenomenal article Mr. Feulner, similar thoughts were on my mind as I compare these "occupy" protests. Will the same people who are protesting "corporate greed" also be mourning Mr. Job's passing?

    15. Jim McCormack says:

      I am 66-year-old and certainly not a geek nor even computer literate. However, during the early 1980's the company I was working for started to install PCs running DOS command programs. I recall Lotus 123 as one we were encouraged to learn. Ugh! My resistance was significant.
      Then, about the 1982-84 timeframe the magic of the Apple MacIntosh hit the market and all my fear and loathing of computing at a personal level was solved.The wonder of point & click using a new thing called a mouse that sent me directly to word processing and other useful programs, etc., was immediately to my liking and met my needs. Over time I have owned several Apple products although Social Security does not afford me the luxury to keep up with iPads, etc.
      I believe Steve Jobs possessed the most valued of American charactisitics…Vision, Passion, Persistance, and Product. (Kinda like our Founding Fathers…their 'product' was is Yhe Constituion). The rest, as they say, is history.
      God Bless you Steve and the company you are now keeping.
      HE is now beta testing your iCloud applications.
      Jim McCormack
      Sparta, NJ

      • Mario says:

        Apple did not invent the PC, the mouse nor the computer screen icons, those were invented at Xerox PARC. Steve Jobs and company were the middlemen who marketed them to the general public.

    16. rpmcpi81 says:

      Awesome tribute to both the man and to our unique system and country.

    17. Jon says:

      Steve Jobs never let his liberalism get in the way of his capitalism. Despite being a champion of liberal causes, Steve understood the hypocrisy and greed of Big Government. In his recent pitch to the Cupertino City Council for the approval of the construction of the new Apple HQ, he was asked by one arrogant councilmember what the city what get in return—to paraphrase, "will we get something back, like free wi-fi". This was a strong arm tactic at worst, naive ignorance at best. Steve coyly responded, (again, paraphrasing … watch the video) "I think we pay our fair share of taxes to the City of Cupertino to do with as they wish; we'd be happy to take those tax dollars elsewhere". http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/06/cupertino-

      Those championing the rallying cry of Elizabeth Warren should take note. http://spectator.org/archives/2011/09/26/the-mooc

      • Joe says:

        Typical Steve. He did great with capitalism which most of us (at least me and my family and friends) in private do too. Except, some of us actually do 'good' (not lie, steal, cheat, or harass employees or business partners) and 'great' (I've reached the million U.S$ mark and I'm not 34 yet). I actually met Steve when I was 19, after that meeting to this day he doesn't stand out to me more than other people I have met, and a few that have turned into mentors for me. Growing up, I saw in the media that he was selfish, self-centered, a jerk (even to just someone he didn't know). I thought it was media not him. But later, I met people that were his friends(and thats saying alot) and I met him – observed him in action. What I saw, is the reason I haven't bought an Apple product yet, I don't want my money to support his crap attitude he displays. Our country is in enough trouble with the libs and gov't workers trying to suck by until they retire.

        Do Great, and do GOOD! People will be more impressed.

    18. freedom says:

      A perfect example of accomplishment, creativity and doing good for society. Compare him to the cretins in these sit-ins, and what does it mean to be against Wall Street anyway? What have these people accomplished in their lives, created, in what way have they done good or made a contribution to society?
      Where did the clothes they wear come from? How did those cell phones and other devices they are using happen? Do they ever stop to consider these things? Do they know how to think?
      This is also a perfect way to compare Obama to the Tea Partiers. He, like those protesting, thinks it is wise to demonize those who make things and earn money from that, and the real protesters, the Tea Partiers want to go it the Steve Jobs way. Progressive liberalism vs. capitalism. Cretins vs. Steve Jobs.
      How you choose between these sets of examples tells me all I need to know about you.

    19. sdfultz says:

      Steve Jobs would probably scream if he saw how you are misusing his reputation.

    20. @galengidman says:

      What a great post. Steve Jobs has indeed made millions of lives better. In a post-American world, that should never have happened.

    21. Ron W. Smith says:

      No one disputes that the United States is an exceptional nation, Ed Feulner. Some of us, though, prefer to welcome recognition and discussion of faults as well–and in an open way. As you point out, we're not perfect. We have made and continue to make horrible mistakes, perhaps the most egregious being our willingness to bad-mouth other governments and their ways in pushing political agendas here in the U.S. Those governments became "nanny governments" because of their collectivist zeal for every human life. Their universal health care systems became "socialism" despite the many coverage and fiscal advantages they enjoy in those systems that we don't in our privatized, for-profit system. Our push to mold the world in our image through aggressive intervention and worldwide military footprint has put other governments in the repeatedly uneasy position of "being for us or agin us."
      Yes, exceptional in so many ways, even in some wrong ones. America is not done as hegemon yet, but until we squelch the urge to deny error and, instead, flaunt "exceptionalism" instead of striving always to demonstrate it, we'll not much longer be the shining city on the hill we insist we are.

      • MacMan says:

        Ron – you simply fail to see the facts before your eyes. OBAMA does, indeed, "dispute that the United States is an exceptional nation". Obama insists that there is absolutely nothing special about the American experiment – the American experience. Obama does indeed feel that America is far from exceptional – it is instead to be punished, to be impugned, to be denigrated. These assertions are, in fact, a cornerstone of the current Democratic/Liberal/Progressive/Leftist/Marxist party. Just listen to their words, read what they write.

        NO-one is insisting that America deny its errors. Indeed, those errors, and America's ability to overcome them and learn from them, had been a driving force in making America the exceptional country that is is! We conquered slavery (leading the world which, by the way, still embraces slavery in certain areas). We do not conquer and occupy countries – we free them of oppression and help them overcome their burdens.

        America consists of people, and so will always be imperfect.

        What is unusual (in human history) is the degree of freedom that America insists exists for its citizens. What is unusual is that the government, the "ruling body", has a charter (Constitution) that clearly delineates its powers. It has enumerated LIMITED power that is given by the citizens TO the government (not the other way around as is the case in most of human history).

        It is the failure of the leftists to appreciate this fact that saddens me, as it may lead to our ultimate downfall if we become a Marxist Socialist country with unlimited powers taken by the government and used as needed against its citizens. It is simply not the governments job to decide who wins and who loses. It is not the governments job to pre-ordain outcomes. Keeping the playing field level and fair is its only job. Don't demand support when you, using your personal freedom, deemed it more important to engage in self-destructive behavior rather then educating yourself or developing a career.

        We are in danger of becoming dependent on our government, and losing our unique exceptionalism and thus losing our basic freedoms. Centralized governmental command and control has never, in human history, worked. Personal freedom and the Inability of the government to have command and control of our lives and our freedom – THAT is what ALLOWS for the fact of America Exceptionalism.

      • fury says:

        Dear Sanctimonious,

        Dare to live in a Government Project for one year. You can enjoy the benefits firsthand, living with the meek, and visiting your local Welfare Office to report in regularly. You'll learn the joy of using a universal healthcare plan for all your Planned health needs, as governed by a benevolent centralized Socialist Marxist government. Oh, the joi de vivre of buying your groceries with Food Stamps!

        Pray tell, Mr. Smith, what happens if there is no 10% of earners to support 70% of these costs???

    22. Pat O'Lone says:

      I have never met Steve Jobs. I have never owned nor used an Apple product! I have only seen the man on tv when he was introducing a new product etc. Yet by his demeanor and history I feel that we have lost a great man interested in bettering the lot of mankind!

      Via Con Dios Steve

      • eggplant says:

        You know, maybe he really just wanted to get rich. But the beauty of our system is that the desire to get rich was really just fine, as he helped our society in his quest.

    23. Terry says:

      I found this online. Notice how this item was passed on by the church member.

      Wednesday, Westboro Baptist Church tweeted that they plan to protest Steve Jobs’ funeral. The Kansas based, Westboro Baptist Churchis known for their anti-homosexual protests at funerals, particularly US soldiers and celebrities.
      Ironically, Westboro Baptist Church sent the Twitter message out Wednesday night via Twitter for iPhone.
      Margie Phelps is a lawyer for the Westboro Baptist Church, and the daughter of the church’s founder, and she tweeted (from her iPhone): “Westboro will picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin.”

      Irony at its greatest level.

    24. J E Houser says:

      Apple's Job proves that great blossoms of human intelligence can spring up in areas of free enterprise and competitive states as all the pages of history have shown this phenomenon occurred when such areas existed.

    25. Danny Done says:

      Here is a video tribute I made for Steve. http://youtu.be/8nI23UNA26Y

      Danny : .
      t: @marketeering1
      a: http://about.me/dannydone

    26. Frank says:

      "… liberals constantly tell us about our country — that we're falling behind others and live now in a "post-American world," – EF

      Sorry Ed, I'm not a liberal and I would have to mostly agree with them on that! With Obama & the socialistic Democrats in charge, this nation is headed for collapse! On the other hand, you said:

      "This is not to say that we don’t have problems. We are indeed falling behind — not behind other countries but behind our promise and potential. Our government spends too much, tries to tell us how to run our private lives, and ties down in red tape the genius that brought you Apple. The great and sometimes cacophonous debate we are having in our country at the moment results from the fact that Americans have finally woken up to the threat our system confronts and are doing something about it."

      I can only say that I HOPE AMERICANS HAVE WOKEN UP, but I'm not yet convinced they have. If they had, Obama would be undergoing impeachment now, his status of "natural born" US citizenship would be under close investigation and there would be no chance of an Obama second term. Sadly, that's not yet the case.

    27. Patti says:

      The only thing that is not exceptional in our great country right now, is this current adminstration and all of their Czars! Get rid of all of them, and we will be on the road to recovery!

    28. Ben C. says:

      Well said.

    29. End Of An Era says:

      If you keep repeating the same message over and over as Mr. Obama has the less bright (Occupy Wall Street for instance) eventually believe it.

      Mr. Obama's message is and will be "American Exceptionalism Is Dead". In the 50s and 60s we called that propaganda, now Mr. Obama calls it "Hope and Change".

      What do you think?

    30. Whicket Williams says:

      The very fact that we are defeating those intent in destroying us, and undoing the damage they have done,proves who we are. We Must remember to UNDO all the damage, after the Election,if not before. Regulations MUST be repealed, the Government MUST be cut by two-thirds.

    31. John says:

      Nice predictable article. If Steve were alive he'd probably point out the shallow thinking behind it or better still…kick you right in the pants!

    32. Mary says:

      There is something special about Steve Job's death- I can't help but think that GOD has an important project, in Heaven, for Mr. Jobs. Perhaps, widening the universe? A better Path through Technology? What ever- it's special.

    33. Mary says:

      There is something special about Steve Job's death- I believe GOD has a project, in Heaven, he needs help with- and, Steve is the man. Perhaps, a Path through Technology? Thank you, Steve.

    34. Dick Griffitrhs says:

      I had the pleasure of having Steve Jobs as my seat mate on a flight from London to San Francisco in 1985. I found that behind his thin veneer of arrogance he was an energetic, entrepreneurial and totally captivating visionary.
      What he envisioned in 1985 in our conversation has become a reality in our ever day lives and changed it forever.

    35. Stephen Cobb says:

      Great eulogy Mr Feulner. What sadness that such an icon had to depart so soon. He lived in the USA where he started a company that now employs so many people (listen up President Obama). What are the attributes of a society that allows a Steve Jobs to prosper? We need more Steve Jobs in our society now. I hope we are nurturing them as i write? I am a 64 year old that now finally has an Iphone and an Ipad. Steve, you will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.

    36. Jim Patterson says:

      Ok, all you anti-capitalists turn in your iPads, cell phones, cars, don't ride airplanes, etc. etc. and walk back home. Oh, and no eating at capitalist fast food places either.

    37. Ignoring the powers of capitalism are as foolish as ignoring its problems.

    38. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Steve Jobs was a man who did great things.

    39. donna says:

      thank you for your moving piece. i will send it to many on my contact list.
      I could tell it was heartfelt.

    40. Cindi Benson says:

      You rock Dr. Fuelner!!! I will post this on my FB page, much to my liberal friends chagrin!!!! see you next week in DC

    41. Morning Glory says:

      Even his very existence was against radical liberals as Steve was ADOPTED (not aborted by his out of wedlock college age mom)! How many more "Steve Jobs" have we been denied because of the scourge of abortion-on-demand???????? Sad, sad, sad~~what kind of society allows its most vulnerable and innocent citizens to be murdered?????????

    42. Bill D says:

      Steve was a genius. However, I dont have an imac, ipod or ipad or iphone nor do I down load music.
      That stuff is not important.
      Someday in the future his real impact on what to do with his integration of technology will bear fruit.

    43. Greg says:

      Exactly. And the fact that this article was written is the reason I continue to support the Heritage Foundation. Excellent job, Dr. Feulner.

    44. Jason says:

      Most of the iPhone technology is developed in Asia, so no idea why the author thinks that Jobs and his products are a means of buttressing American exceptionalism.

    45. Rosemary Grable says:

      No one could have said this any better.


    46. Bobbie says:

      my second comment didn't make it either? what the heck! sometimes it concerns me whose on the other side here…

    47. Gene says:

      Made In Heaven.
      Steve Jobs was a great man. And not to diminish his accomplishments in any way, but he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Just like Bill Gates and Paul Allen. He was able to take advantage of what, at its deepest roots, in one form or another, began as government funded research (taxpayer dollars) … on technology that someone decided wasn’t going anywhere … the mouse, the Xerox personal computer. We should all be so lucky. That’s what the Wall Street Protests are all about … to have a chance at the American dream. At least a chance. How ironic that the protests are going on at precisely the time that a man as great as Steve Jobs passes on … a paradox of sorts … made in heaven.

    48. steve says:

      I am especially proud that an Arab-American, adopted by a Syrian immigrant, would be our poster child for American Exceptionalism. It shows the importance of immigration to our culture and its greatness, and that our nation extends, as it always has, beyond our national borders to the families of countries and cultures across the planet. We are one global community, and our recognition of this makes us a global leader.

    49. Don Evans says:

      Truly, a wonderful tribute to Jobs and America. You got it right.

    50. Tyus says:

      This article is silly. Steve Jobs was a liberal so to use him against liberals makes no sense. I'm sorry I don't believe in American exceptionalism, I believe in believer exceptionalism. When we honor HaShem in all we do He will bless all we do, but the last time I checked only Israel was marked as exceptional. I know this country needs to be more conservative but if the Lord tarries this empire will pass like any other. Stop worshipping American and worship the one true God. Baruch Hashem.

    51. Helen Spingola says:


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