Friday, March 17, 2006

I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing...
Yet another example of the stupidity of the Kumbaya crowd:

Flooding the Shitholes...errr...Developing Nations (and just WHAT are they developing? Interesting question) of the planet with cheap PC's as a means of eliminating poverty? Give me a break.

Now "PC's for Africa" is no dumber than a "No Nukes" concert, or "LiveAid", or that concert that no one watched last year (was it Big 8 or Great 8 or what? I forget. Sounded more like a College basketball conference) . However, it is predictable and consistent. What the world needs, the purveyors of these screwy ideas will explain to you, is for the Developed world to show concern, and perhaps flash a little cash, on behalf of the Developing World, make a few investments in their future, and voila! we'll have peace and harmony, brotherhood and comity, civil discourse and economic prosperity.

What's never mentioned, of course, is gratititude, but that is a subject for another rant.

What's stupid about this idea is that should such a device ever be successfully created (and I've no doubt it will), there is no infrastructure exploit in some of these Developing Countries, many of which, barely verge on the Stick Age. What's even dumber is believing that even with the power of a PC, (to educate, to disseminate information, to reasearch) that people who's biggest concern is not catching Beri-Beri today, or avoiding the political/ethnic/religious death-squad-du-jour, will be able to utilize the things in the first place. Secondary to this idea is the simple question: who controls the distribution of these things (assuming a minimum infrastructure to actually make them of even marginal worth)?

By default this will mean government. It will mean the United Nations. I wouldn't trust the United Nations to lead a three-year old to the crapper, so I certainly wouldn't give them the responsibility (and power, not to mention the possibility of corruption) of handing these PC's out.

Many governments that are mostly repressive and undemocratic are wont to keep the distribution of these things to those they deem politically reliable, and in many cases, reliability revolves around race or ethnicity, or the willingness of the reliable to engage in attrocities on behalf of whichever "Colonel" manages to carry off a successful revolution this week. Assume Saddam Hussein was still in power and these things flooded Iraq; would Saddam allow Kurds to have them? How about Shi'a? The answer is: No.

Governments also have other interests at heart. Recently, Google, the internet search engine, was instructed (not requested) by the People's Republic of China to retsrict access and censor the results of it's searches made by Chinese citizens. The reasons: a) God forbid the Chinese people should discover a world beyond their own borders where a police state doesn't exist, and b) God help the Chinese citizen who finds his way to a political forum not specifically sanctioned by the state. The purpose of Google in China, then, is not to give people options or tools to improve their lives, but rather to help the Government feed the citizens a steady diet of PRC propaganda and deny them the ability to contrast and copmpare their conditions with those to be foiund elsewhere in the world, and c) to prevent those who ARE smart enough to use the power of the internet for the purposes of political dissent from being visible to the great mass of Chinese citizens.

It would be no different with cheap PC's in Zimbabwe. Or Indonesia. Or Vietnam.

Besides, there are already various alternatives available. Your basic PCS cell phone has much the same capability as envisioned for this $100 PC. The iPod is small, inexpensive and capable of storing information. Of course, the actual utilization of such devices also depends on whether or not the people who get them can read, write and have the same level of intelligence and technical skill to be found in the common house cat.

So this exercise is academic. Right?

Wrong. It's a good idea, just not practical, and the driving force behind it is not a desire to help poor folks get a leg up, it's another attempt by Western liberals to scratch that irrational guilt they all have when it comes to questions of poverty. In this country, we simply create more poor, so that we have someone to take care of, and it makes us feel good. At least until it's time to tweak the system by which the poor were created and maintained for some other political or guilt-related question. I mean, ask yourself this: if you can produce a $100 PC for Angola, why wouldn't you create one for Appalachia? Simple: There's too many white people in rural Kentucky, dolt!

It's yet another exercise in making liberals feel good about themselves by "helping" others. And like most liberal ideas that begin with this pretense, it will fail miserably. Better to dig a big hole, pour all those $100 laptops into it, and forget the whole thing.