Steve Jobs’ 1985 response to Andrew Ross Sorkin’s crass questioning of charity

“I’ve appreciated receiving a number of emails from readers who agreed with my post yesterday rebutting Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “post” on Steve Jobs’ supposed lack of given,” Eric Jackson writes for Forbes. “One reader pointed out that Jobs had really directly responded to these points in a 1985 Playboy Interview.”

Playboy: What does the money actually mean to you?

Jobs: I still don’t understand it. It’s a large responsibility to have more than you can spend in your lifetime – and I feel I have to spend it. If you die, you certainly don’t want to leave a large amount to your children. It will just ruin their lives… Almost everyone would think that he could invest the money back into humanity in a much more astute way than the Government could. The challenges are to figure out how to live with it and to reinvest it back into the world, which means either giving it away or using it to express your concerns or values.

Playboy:So what do you do?

Jobs: That’s a part of my life that I like to keep private. When I have some time, I’m going to start a public foundation. I do some things privately now.

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
On charity, Steve Jobs has a right to remain silent – August 30, 2011
Playboy posts interview with 29-year-old Steve Jobs from 1985 – November 20, 2010
Kahney jumps shark: praises Gates, crassly criticizes Steve Jobs over charitable donations – January 25, 2006


  1. “Almost everyone would think that he could invest the money back into humanity in a much more astute way than the Government could.” – Does this mean Steve may be a , conservative?

    1. I don’t know of ANYONE who’s 100% Conservative or 100% Liberal. Although I’m a registered Republican, and more of a Libertarian bent, I believe in giving to charities and in supporting the common rights of human beings (which includes supporting the right of any person to marry a person of the opposite sex). I believe that I have an obligation to help support those who have been given less, simply because that which has been given to me implies an obligation to share that which exceeds my utterly basic needs.

      I DON’T believe in giving the government the power to extort money from anyone for “charitable” purposes – once the money has been taken by threat of force, it ceases to be charity and becomes theft. In other words, the government has no business being in the welfare business – that’s the job of the churches and church-like organizations. If people respond by saying that “someone has a right not to believe in God, or a right not to belong to a church,” then I challenge them to tell me, while remaining consistent with those assertions, from where comes the belief that one has a right to be taken care of.

      But to return to the track of Deus Ex’s question, Steve has both conservative and liberal leanings, as do most of us, and frankly I’m happy that he keeps his charity private. I wish more super-rich people did so.

      1. ” I wish more super-rich people did so.”

        I think most super-rich people do keep it private. There are some, and probably very few, I think, that dont keep it private and make a lot of noise.

        1. Its pretty obviously a typo, because he knows if he didn’t say it, the leftist idiots around would go off on him about it… ironicly, of course, given that Obama doesn’t support same sex marriage, is a homophobe, and 3/4 of congressional democrats voted for, and Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

          But then, that’s what you get when you put bigots like the democrats in office.

      2. It is the mark of a civilised society how it treats its citizens generally and particularly those less well off. This includes public education and public health systems.
        It is certainly the role of government to provide welfare to those who need and deserve it. It is also the right of government to insist that people capable of working do work and not sponge off the rest of society.
        Welfare is there for those who need it – not those who simply want it. I certainly don’t support throwing good money after bad. This is a pragmatic view of the role of government in a civilised society.
        Finally, it’s certainly my right not to believe in a God and not to have religious belief imposed on me. Particularly when there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State.

        1. Civilization is what you have when you don’t have slavery. Your position is to keep people ignorant (by having “public” education that criminalizes actual teaching).
          Then you want to steal from some people to pay off politically connected people, and you pretend like this is “helping poverty” when in reality, it is the engine that creates poverty. Ever notice that in places with less welfare there’s also less poverty?

          And money given to government is good money after bad…

          Oh, and after that maoist rant you want freedom of religion? How about freedom from your batshit insane, killed 200 million people in the last century marxist religion?

      3. Thank you, emmayche! Your words expressed my beliefs perfectly. I suspect that far more people closely align with this moderate political and social view than with either of the extremes.

        There is sanity in the world!

        1. You’re both idiots. You can’t even be honest about what the TEA Party stood for because you don’t want to admit that they’ve been proven right– the “stimulus” handout to politically connected democrats has completely failed to improve the economy, and has, instead hurt it. Obamacare has passed and forced many low income insurance programs to shut down, putting hundreds of thousands of lower income people out of insurance.

          You can’t deal with reality, so you act as if the TEA party was a bunch of evil people… when in truth, it is you who are evil.

    2. If you think “liberal” means pro-government, think again. As far as I’m concerned, anyone with half a brain would like to see every one of those clowns fired immediately, liberals and conservatives alike. Let them do something they’re actually qualified for, like selling shoes.

      1. You’re right. Classical Liberals were the anti-government movement that produced the confederation and worked very hard to keep us from having a strong central government.

        Since today’s modern socialists have taken over the liberal term– and should be properly called neo-liberals– modern liberals instead call themselves libertarians.

        In that sense, Steve Jobs, who according to Woz was an objectivists, is very much a Classical Liberal.

  2. If you have a company that brings joy and very good products to the world, you are making a big contribution to all of us.
    But if you have a company like microsoft, selling overpriced products, products that even in you invest millions to protect it, it still vulnerable and losing BILLIONS some times because of your bad quality. At the end, you will donate a few millions and people won’t notice that you have caused Billions in lost to the rest of the people?

  3. “When I have some time, I’m going to start a public foundation. I do some things privately now.”

    One can assume that Bill Gates read this article at the time and decided to copy that too : )

    1. Actually, until Melinda finally shamed him, the purpose of the Gates Foundation was to identify businesses, schools, museums, etc where Apple dominated and donate enough software to force out Apple. I was on an art school board in the early 90s where they did this very thing. One of the requirements attached to their largesse was that no operating system except windows would be permitted anywhere on the property. That’s Bill Gates’ sort of charity.

  4. “Almost everyone would think that he could invest the money back into humanity in a much more astute way than the Government could.” – Does this mean Steve may be a , conservative?

    Go back and watch the City Council presentation of the new proposed Apple headquarters. When asked by a councilwoman, “If since Apple makes so much money they would provide free WiFi for Cupertino?” Steve replays,”Since we are the largest tax payer in Cupertino, why doesn’t they city provide free WiFi for the city of Cupertino.”

    Maybe not a total conservative, but not a full blown liberal either.


    1. Steve absolutely gets it and the Councilwoman doesn’t. They purpose of taxes is to provide needed services to the community as a whole (infrastructure). Infrastructure doesn’t come as a gift from the wealthy, corporations or individuals, as the Councilwoman seems to hope.

    2. Steve is a libertarian, as are pretty much all really smart people who are also rational. (There are very smart people who are not rational, like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates.)

      He’s also an Objectivist, according to Woz, and this is becoming very apparent when you look over his career and at these kinds of quotes.

      You can see this consistently in his belief in property rights, belief in the power of the individual. In fact the “Here’s to the crazy ones” is like an objectivist poem. You can see it in his striving constantly for perfection, and his acceptance of imperfection in others. (But not stupidity, that’s where he gets the reputation– if you do a poor job and then blame it on someone else, you do deserve to be fired.)

      Of course, this drives leftists up the wall because they’ve always assumed he was a leftist like them… simply because he didn’t go around preaching his ideology. (That failure to preach it is also consistent with objectivism.)

  5. The only charity I give is to the unfortunate in my extended family.

    Most of the people who know of this, especially first or second generation Canadians, agree with me 100%.

  6. If we want to try and label a very private man, we’ll most certainly fall short. Politically, we know is that he has in the past supported Democrats (he once hosted Bill Clinton at his home during a campaign, and has lately accepted a dinner invitation with President Obama). But he is most certainly a capitalist, given his life’s work, and his response in this article. Perhaps his upcoming biography will shed some more light on one of the most fascinating men in modern times.

  7. A Taste of Thoughtful Giving: Maimonides’ Laws Concerning Gifts to the Poor

    In this brief list, Maimonides offers a succinct and extraordinarily provocative description of the eight degrees of charity:

    1. The highest degree, exceeded by none, is that of a person who assists a poor person by providing him with a gift or a loan or by accepting him into a business partnership or by helping him find employment — in a word, by putting him where he can dispense with other people’s aid.

    2. A step below this stands the one who gives alms to the needy in such a manner that the giver knows not to whom he gives and the recipient knows not from whom it is that he takes.

    3. One step lower is that in which the giver knows to whom he gives but the poor person knows not from whom he receives.

    4. A step lower is that in which the poor person knows from whom he is taking but the giver knows not to whom he is giving.

    5. The next degree lower is that of him who, with his own hand, bestows a gift before the poor person asks.

    6. The next degree lower is that of him who gives only after the poor person asks.

    7. The next degree lower is that of him who gives less than is fitting but gives with a gracious mien.

    8. The next degree is that of him who gives morosely.

  8. Since when does the current crop of Neo-Conservatives give a rat’s about humanity? ‘Charity’ to them is taking their spouse out to dinner and leaving a lousy tip. Get real.

  9. @Derek Currie

    If all you have to share is blind loyalty and pride, you might want to consider lurking only. Check out the tax returns of G.W. Bush and Al Gore; then compare the charitable giving. Conservatives are known to be more generous givers than Liberals. Check it out, facts won’t hurt you.

    I don’t understand this morbid curiosity about the ‘charitable’ giving of others – especially celebrities. If each one concentrates on his own giving the world will benefit.

    In other words, ‘mind your own business.’

    1. Did I say “Conservatives”. Obviously NOT. I grew up among ACTUAL conservatives. No, I said:
      “Since when does the current crop of Neo-Conservatives give a rat’s about humanity?”

      NEO-Conservatives are the people that Ronald Reagan himself named “THE CRAZIES”. And they ARE bat shite crazy. Among other things, welcome to the ongoing economic depression that these scum of the universe created. Or hadn’t you noticed?

      I could go on for a week describing their despicable acts. But you could always do your homework and find out for yourself. Look up the recent history of Halliburton and the psychopath named Dick Cheney. It makes anyone ACTUALLY concerned about humanity gag with disgust.

      There is a difference between Conservative and Neo-Conservative. But you didn’t notice.

      1. You’re about 3/4 wrong in terms of who caused the current depression. It was caused by the busting of the housing bubble, a bubble advocated by prominent liberal thinkers like Paul Krugman, which was inflated by the artificially low interest rates that were set under the neo-conservative Bush regime. But it was also the direct results of the Clinton era campaign that “denying people loans simply because they can’t pay is racist”. It later turned out that when you accounted for ability to repay there was no racial skew in the loan rates, but leftists believe that everyone else is racist and don’t care about facts.

        Anyway , another big part of the cause was Clintons’ inflation of the dot com bubble, again by artificially keeping interest rates low, overheating the economy, and by printing money with massive government spending. (Bush also engaged in massive government spending, that’s always been an area where each president attempts to out do the previous.)

        Today, we have neocons and neolibs. And the only real liberals are now call libertarians, and probably the only real conservatives are called libertarians too.

        It should be a debate between genuine conservatives and libertarians…. but the country has been taken over by socialists of both the neocon and neolib stripe and is being run into the ground.

        So I think we agree, I just didn’t want to let the leftists off the hook for destroying the economy.

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