Fake Steve Jobs Rants About The Decline Of American Quality

While reading articles about the iPhone and AT&T this morning, I came across Fake Steve Jobs, which I haven’t read in a long time. On Saturday Fake Steve Jobs had a phone call with an even more fake Randall Stephenson of AT&T, and the fake conversation reaches a brilliant, hilarious Network-level rant against big business about halfway through.

Oh, it’s also profane, as these sorts of rants tend to be. Put on your sunglasses if you’re sensitive to cursing.

While I’m ranting, let me ask you something, Randall. At the risk of sounding like Glenn Beck Jr. — what the fuck has gone wrong with our country? Used to be, we were innovators. We were leaders. We were builders. We were engineers. We were the best and brightest. We were the kind of guys who, if they were running the biggest mobile network in the U.S., would say it’s not enough to be the biggest, we also want to be the best, and once they got to be the best, they’d say, How can we get even better? What can we do to be the best in the whole fucking world? What can we do that would blow people’s fucking minds? They wouldn’t have sat around wondering about ways to fuck over people who loved their product. But then something happened. Guys like you took over the phone company and all you cared about was milking profit and paying off assholes in Congress to fuck over anyone who came along with a better idea, because even though it might be great for consumers it would mean you and your lazy pals would have to get off your asses and start working again in order to keep up.

And not just you. Look at Big Three automakers. Same deal. Lazy, fat, slow, stupid, from the top to the bottom — everyone focused on just getting what they can in the short run and who cares what kind of piece of shit product we’re putting out. Then somehow along the way the evil motherfuckers on Wall Street got involved and became everyone’s enabler, devoting all their energy and brainpower to breaking things up and parceling them out and selling them off in pieces and then putting them back together again, and it was all about taking all this great shit that our predecessors had built and “unlocking value” which really meant finding ways to leech out whatever bit of money they could get in the short run and let the future be damned. It was all just one big swindle, and the only kind of engineering that matters anymore is financial engineering.

“A not-so-brief chat with Randall Stephenson of AT&T” [FakeSteve.net]

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  1. FatLynn says:

    C’mon, everyone knows that engineers, when left to their own devices, do not create the best products. They get very caught up in what something *could* do, and ignore what it reasonably *should* do.

    • katstermonster says:

      Troof. Engineer here.

    • AnthonyC says:

      Be that as it may, I would emphasize that those products will do neither what they *could* nor what they *should* without those very same engineers. And if no one *ever* let engineers just play wit products, nothing truly new would make it into the marketplace. Didn’t Bell Labs teach us anything?

      Your comment boils down to “These people really enjoy what they do, so we need to make sure to keep them well grounded in what we actually need from them.”

  2. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    This post was win :D

  3. Orv says:

    “…the only kind of engineering that matters anymore is financial engineering.”

    This explains so much about the state the country is in today. Our best and brightest don’t go into engineering, where they can make new and better products that benefit mankind. They go into financial services, because that’s where the money is, and come up with new and more complex financial instruments that benefit their bosses while screwing over the rest of us.

    • ktetch says:

      Thats because it’s very hard to make ‘new’ things with the state of the patent and copyright industries these days.

      You need to join a big firm to have their resources to do the backend stuff on all that, and then you’re stuck working for a PHB who thinks they know better, and tells you to make your thing worse, to make it more profitable.
      If you’re at a small company, it’s very hard to really innovate well, without the patent trolls trying to crush you, or take you over.

      It’s a lose/lose.

      This is why I’ve left engineering, and gone into politics (ran the US Pirate Party from early 07 to September 08, then ran the international umbrella org from September 08 to July this year. Taking a year off to work on some studies/research (and because starting parties in 5 countries in a month’s period was the last straw for my blood pressure), and then I’m right back into it.). Sooner we get more politicians who are NOT lawyers, the better.

  4. TailsToo says:

    Fake Steve for President!

  5. PsiCop says:

    It’s all about acquiring short-term gains at the expense of long-term effects … whatever those might be. In the case of AT&T they wanted all the short-term profits that accrued from selling as many iPhones as possible. But they decided to put off the long-term expense of actually building a wireless network capable of handling all those iPhones. And … even faced with the now-absurdly-obvious need to make that long-term investment, they choose STILL to avoid doing so, in favor of blaming everyone else … from their own customers to Apple … for the fact that they have dug their heels in on the matter of constructing a workable network and refuse to budge on it.

    • cowboyesfan says:

      Yet consumers continue to purchase iphones and become AT&T customers.

      Thats smart business.

      • PsiCop says:

        I didn’t say that all those iPhone fanbois out there aren’t, essentially, “enablers” who’ve pretty much given them the incentive to do exactly what they’re doing. I’m just saying this is a phenomenon which affects all American businesses to one degree or another, and they will do it to the exclusion of everything else for as long as they can get away with it.

        What’s happened in AT&T’s case is that the legions of iPhone fanbois have been the ones allowing them to get away with it. I agree that the fanbois need to take responsibility for the monster they created … I believe I’ve commented previously on that so it should be “on the record … but in the end, AT&T made their own decisions. No one put a gun to their heads and said, “Do not build up that network!” They’re grown adults and they made their own grown-up choices. They too need to take responsibility for that.

    • jayphat says:

      I feel the same way about Infinity Ward if it makes you feel any better. PC customers followed them from the beginning, helping them build their business to this massive empire. Now, they’ve decided to take a massive dump on the PC community and call it innovative, refering to the masses who point out their shortcomings as people who take their games too seriously.

  6. Kid Awesome says:

    HA, I love it!

  7. FrugalFreak says:

    simple answer- PROFIT GREED!

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    “Your engineers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

  9. TailsToo says:

    It’s like this in most big companies now. They’re not as nimble as a smaller, leaner competitor, so they do all in their power to hold on to what they have and prevent consumers from having a choice.

    Something like wireless is a good example – very high cost to enter the market, and those already in the market will crush start ups, so there’s really no need for them to reinvest in their own business as long as they can keep competitors out. The most profitable strategy is just to hang on and invest as little as possible.

    The Wall Street short-term thinking has really ruined business.

  10. _hi_ says:

    You want to make something new and exciting? Just get James Breyers to fund your project.

  11. mac-phisto says:

    it makes some excellent points, but this concept of a “used-to-be america”? bullcocky. it’s ALWAYS been like this. well, maybe not always, but at least since 1876, when thomas edison founded menlo park.

    • admiral_stabbin says:

      It goes back to the dawn of humanity. For some reason, people find comfort in reminiscing about times that never existed. I’m sure there’s a name for the disorder…I just don’t know it as I’m too busy thinking about 1950s drag racing and pom-poms! ;-)

  12. wrjohnston91283 says:

    Part of the problem is American consumers – we want cheap things, so companies make them cheap, which results in lower profit margins.

    I was at a independent toy store over the weekend – I was amazed at the things that you wouldn’t see at walmart or toys r us – often made in either the US or in Europe. Of course, things were more expensive, which is why Walmart doesn’t sell them.

  13. trujunglist says:

    So wait… Ayn Rand WAS completely full of shit? Good to know, thanks

  14. Danilo Campos says:

    Not really. The prime Randian failing was Objectivism’s assumption that capitalism and rational thought would be able to co-exist. When this is so, it’s outstanding. Sadly, like any ideal, Objectivism attempts to prescribe what people ought to do instead of handling what people will want to do.

    It isn’t rational to make business decisions based on short-term gains since, except in extraordinary circumstances, you can assume that most people and businesses will still want to exist in a year. It also isn’t rational to build a business on mediocrity, since again, in the long term, no matter how hard you try to stop them, someone else will show up with a better idea.

    Randian thought centers around working “for the best within us” and enjoying the financial and personal rewards those efforts will bring. In truth, we would be better off if today’s titans of industry would take a lesson or two from Ayn Rand. They would aspire toward making great things, creating companies that continually reinvented themselves, as Atlas Shrugged’s Hank Rearden reinvented the steel industry.

    The sad reality is that Ayn Rand was more right than we ever knew. Today’s major players in finance and industry bear a shocking resemblance to Randian villains, which I had always thought to be almost crudely one-dimensional. They are shockingly incompetent, they are more concerned with short-term personal enrichment than the pursuit of honest, superlative achievement, and they use their pull and influence to make the government use force against their competitors and targets of looting (the American taxpayer, more often than not).

    Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is far from perfect. It’s idealism, with all of the joys and attendant shortfalls that idealism entails. But under no circumstance can my reading of it come anywhere close to endorsing the mediocre garbage that has become the bulk of American industry.

    • PsiCop says:

      You’re correct … alas, homo sapienshomo economicus. More’s the pity.

    • econobiker says:

      Great post.

      Corporations seem to have been issued “person hood” without actual responsibility or liability and seek to assimilate everything (ie all the money, intellectual property, control) which the corporation can get.

      If I was a Star Trek fan I would mention “borg” but I probably would have some fan nuance off about the “borg” so I won’t…

  15. jdmba says:

    The clearest example of short-term or no-term is television. TV Execs (and heads of studios) are SO short term that game shows and reality shows were born. You can’t re-run them (well, you can, but not with any hope of viewership) and you can’t sell them on DVD (well, you can, but once the given secret is out, its out), but that is not relevant. The loss of the down-stream revenue is irrelevant to the “current ratings are everything” crowd.

    This translates well into a sell-at-any-cost mentality. Get the customer to buy, and if it turns out to break or be garbage, that’s up to the customer to fight; but we got their money.

    Short term thinking is the only thinking currently going on, and it’s pretty sad.

  16. mac-phisto says:

    there’s a prominent political figure out there that has an excellent (imo) idea for stopping this short-term fixation that seems to be driving the american business culture: tax stock trades. i think it’s ingenious. people that buy stock & hold onto it pay the tax once (or not at all if you allow the tax to sunset after a retention period of…say 1 year), whereas the daily paper traders that toss paper back & forth, buying & selling the same stock a dozen times/day would pay a penalty to do so every time they pass the paper. the tax would discourage this practice.

  17. ClintonOddfellow says:

    Innovation stopped in 1989. The Berlin wall fell.