At a Democratic Platform Drafting Committee hearing on Thursday, Pelosi pulled out what seemed to be an iPhone 6S Plus and said the smartphone was built through federal research, not by Apple’s or Steve Jobs’ ingenuity.
“Anybody here have a smartphone? In this smartphone, almost everything came from federal investments and research,” Pelosi said. “GPS, created by the military, flatscreens, [LCD], digital camera, wireless data compression, research into metal alloys for strength and lightweight, voice recognition — the list goes on and on … They say Steve Jobs did a good idea designing it and putting it together. Federal research invented it.”
You could argue that just because someone discovered how to make thread, it doesn’t mean they have woven the rug. But the point the Democratic leader is making is one that has been made for decades — one that has been notably mentioned by the likes of President Barack Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and even Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Washington Post.
“The individual does not create the product of his industry with his own hands; he utilizes the many processes and forces of mass production to meet the demands of a national and international market,” Roosevelt said in a 1935 message to Congress.
And as our current Commander in Chief previously stated: “The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet.”
Essentially, the idea is that businesses and individuals find success through other people, things, and, as Pelosi says, “federal research.” It’s up to these businesses to give back to the government, and Pelosi believes that federal research contracts deserve just as much of limelight.
But Pelosi has since pedaled down the rhetoric — to not discredit what Apple or Steve Jobs have done.
“The late Steve Jobs and the team at Apple that made the iPhone would be the first to tell you that they didn’t invent many of its core technologies we now take for granted,” Drew Hammill, spokesperson for Pelosi tells Digital Trends. “Leader Pelosi counted Steve Jobs as friend and meant no disrespect to his legacy, but the point she was making is a valid one. Leader Pelosi believes that Steve Jobs and his colleagues at Apple, deserve enormous credit for taking federally-backed innovations off the shelf, refining them, commercializing them and turning them into a beautiful device that changed the world.”