|Something to look forward to|
Solving the problem of poverty is easy. All we need to do is to get the government to buy plasma TVs and give them to poor people. Everyone knows that rich people have plasma TVs, and poor people don't. Plasma TVs are what separates the rich from the poor. Giving poor people a plasma TV would make them rich people. Or even if it didn't actually make them rich, this would be the most effective first step to address the serious imbalances in economic and social injustice in today's world of have and have-nots.
Well, actually, any intelligent person knows that the previous paragraph is utter nonsense. But substitute the word 'notebook computer' for 'TV', and you will become the darling of the leftist elites, who are intent on forcing tax payers to buy millions of notebook computers so they can be distributed to those more worthy than themselves.
We have the international OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project, Australia's determination to give a notebook to every Aboriginal child, and then Kevin (Pixie) Rudd's election promise to give one notebook to every school child.
Apparently the average destitute Aboriginal child, struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual molestation and chronic ear infections will get onto the internet to research the solution to his community's problems.
"Hey Dad, it says here on www.social-workers.gov.au that you should stop getting drunk and bashing mum and I. How about going off to AA?". "Hey Mum - it says here on www.healthy-eating.gov.au that diet is an important lifestyle choice. How about some fresh food for dinner?" "Hey bros, I read on www.say-no-to-drugs.gov.au that sniffing petrol can damage your brain. I guess we'd better stop doing it now."
Fly. Pigs. Might.
In African nations, there is a plan to give free notebooks to children who don't even have electricity. 'No problem,' say the scheme's advocates, 'we can attach wind-up generators to them. And they could even be use to supply light in their mud-huts after dark!' Are there any intelligent people who find this anything other than totally perverse?
Even The Pixie's proposal to supply notebooks to bogans in a first world country is faltering. It seems that the rubbery figures used in estimating the cost of the one-laptop-per-bogan scheme didn't take into account that the notebooks have to maintained. You need IT support for them. IT people, dear reader, are those people who command obscene salaries for doing something that the rest of the population don't even understand. IT support is expensive. More expensive, in fact, than the computers themselves.
The cost of buying a notebook for a motivated, middle-class brat is just the cost of the notebook itself. Within a day, a teen-age computer nerd will strip off the firewall protection and censorship filters, and be happily surfing www.horny-cheerleaders.com in between downloading his homework from essays-for-sale.com, and still have time to post party invitations on MySpace.
But how long is a notebook going to last in a mud hut? Or even a tin hut? Or even a bogan's school bag, getting thrown around with the footy boots?
Answer: not even until the next federal election. Oops.
And the destitute African children? Apart from sending Nigerian 419 scam letters, there is little in the way of local industry which can benefit from information transfer. Social networking is a great way for bored western teenagers to kill time, but when there are animals to feed, crops to grow and water to fetch, on-line gossip about pop stars is pretty much irrelevant. Commodity prices on the other side of the world won't help you if you are merely subsistence farming. And great literature is of no interest to someone with an empty stomach.
Doubtless these elitist initiatives will result in someone, somewhere doing something useful, and the proponents will declare the whole fiasco a success. But does anyone think that the hundreds of dollars per unit would not have been better spent on food, medicine, conventional education or even on a mercenary force to topple their corrupt thieving governments?
And that applies for governments other than Australia's too.