[LINK] $100 laptop could sell to public

Stewart Fist stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Wed Jan 17 12:57:22 AEDT 2007

Danny writes:

> If support for different projects were fungible, then on a cost
> benefit analysis no one would ever put money into anything except
> public health and education.  But that doesn't happen in Australia --
> even charitable donations go to all kinds of purposes -- and it's
> just utopianism to expect it to happen anywhere else.
> Development IT projects are not, in most cases, an alternative to
> public health ones, but an extra.

The reason it doesn't happen in Australia is because the base standards are
so much higher for the vast majority of citizens, that public health and
education is reasonably covered.

In places like Africa, philanthropic support for different projects are
entirely fungible.  And the problems are so obviously at the base public
health and survival level, that, to even consider spending good money on
laptops for every child, is patently ridiculous.

Maslow's hierarch of needs and wants, rested on a foundation of survival
essentials.  Only when these are reasonably in place do you begin to built
on this, layers of less-essential kinds.

It is an excellent concept that appears to have been neglected in recent

Laptops would, in my opinion, be at the top of his hierarchy with such
desirable items as monthly supplies of fairy-floss.

> And assuming poor people can't or wouldn't be able to use IT resources is
> patronising.

It is not patronising to point out that people who lack food, water,
sanitation, basic medicines, permanent homes, clothes, electric power, the
ability to read, and a few hundred other items essential for survival before
they need laptops, is just plain common sense.

You'd give them transistor radios before you introduced laptops.
You'd give them TVs before you gave them laptops.
You'd give them bicycles before you gave them laptops.
You'd give them electric power and water and food and roads before you gave
them laptops.

With the best wishes in the world to those earnestly involved in these
projects, there's a distinct appearance of the same sort of social
disconnect that had a certain French queen suggesting that the poor should
eat cake.

Stewart Fist, writer, journalist, film-maker
70 Middle Harbour Road, LINDFIELD, 2070, NSW, Australia
Ph +61 (2) 9416 7458

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