Obama, BofA and Steve Jobs: the common denominator

In the GOP straw polls, conservative voters win and the president loses.

Chicago, October 9, 2011 — President Obama is trying to pass a jobs bill. Bank of America says it has a right to make a profit. Steve Jobs succumbed to cancer. While it is tempting to tackle the three hot news stories of the day separately, they share an interesting connection.

Looking at these stories in more detail, we see that our President is trying to create jobs by, in part, taxing the wealthy. If you’re wealthy enough to have money invested in Bank of America, then you have a “right” to make a profit. And the only person with enough creative vision to possibly come up with a solution to this conundrum is now gone.

Sad times, indeed.

The underlying force behind all of these issues, and many others we face today, is simple: greed.

President Obama is pushing for passage of a jobs bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday night. While there is not a lot of discussion about how the bill will actually create jobs, there is plenty of discussion about the “millionaire’s surtax,” a separate 5.6% tax on income over $1 million, which would be used to fund it.

The Republicans don’t want to pay it. Some of the Democrats don’t want to pay it. Let’s be honest. Nobody wants to pay new taxes. But everybody wants things to change. It’s just supposed to come out of someone else’s pocket. What Congress is failing to recognize is that only the top 5% of income-earners have anything left in their pockets.

President Obama seems bemused.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass) does not support the surtax. He argues, as many people on both sides of the aisle do, that broad tax reform is needed. The President agrees. In his Oct. 6 speech, the President stated, “…there’s going to be more work to do with respect to making our tax system fair and just and promoting growth.” 

So if we’re in agreement here, what’s the problem?

According to Sen. Brown, he cannot support the surtax because it’s being offered in a “politically inspired environment.”

Power can inspire as much greed as money, and Senator Brown is up for re-election.

Before re-electing him, Massachusetts Republicans need to ask the Senator a question. If he cannot support anything offered in a “politically inspired environment,” what can he hope to accomplish in Washington? 

On to Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan, who at least acknowledges his greed.

As CEO of BFA, Moynihan stated that the bank has a “right to make a profit” and that customers and shareholders understand this.

Shareholders may understand the bank’s “right” to profit, but customers, and the rest of us, are a bit confused.

We all know that we have the right to pursue happiness. For many people pursuing profit is pursuing happiness. This would give Mr. Moynihan the right to pursue profit, not the right to make it. But Mr. Moynihan is pursuing his profit by charging his struggling customers $5 every month that they use their debit cards.

It’s understandable that Mr. Moynihan does not see this as a big deal. According to the Forbes.com list of America’s Highest Paid Executives, Mr. Moynihan’s compensation from Bank of America last year was $6,450,000.

The same $5 fee means something entirely different to a family of four making $23,000 per year, which by the way is just above the poverty level. They need to be able to access their money without sacrificing the gas money that gets them to work.

Steve Jobs with his invention.

Yes, Mr. Moynihan has the right to pursue profit. But confusion is understandable when he is charging fees to people earning less than one percent of his own income.

Those who decry regulation of the financial sector need to realize the power of greed. Banks such as BofA were given huge sums in bailouts. And while lending did not materialize the way it was hoped, bank executives were, in many cases, well-compensated.

Greed in banking and politics are apparent. But how does Steve Jobs fit in with this? Jobs built an empire. He made ridiculous amounts of money. Even if he were not a “greedy” man, he enjoyed his wealth. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But wealth-building was secondary to Steve Jobs. If greed played a role in his life, it was a supporting role. Unlike BofA’s Brian Moynihan, Steve Jobs’ stated goal was not to make money. Unlike Congress, his goal was not to protect his wealth.

Steve Jobs’ goal was to provide a high-quality product with high-quality service that enriched people’s lives. And to do it in a uniquely innovative way. When he accomplished this, he made money.

Steve Jobs is gone, but the lessons are still here. Superior, innovative products and services that improve people’s lives make money. There is so much that Jobs could have taught the Republicans, the Democrats, and the financial sector.

If only they were willing to learn.

 To contact Julia Goralka, see above. Her work appears in End of the Day in the Washington Times Communities.

 


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka

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