Diagnosis: Failure of Imagination

On November 29, 2011, at 9:00 pm TINA ROSENBERG wrote

Giving Where It Works


…programs we’ve written about since Fixes began in October 2010, that make particularly good use of charitable dollars. Like all the ideas we’ve highlighted in Fixes, they are proven to work. All of them spend a relatively small amount now to create huge savings down the road.

While these are not bad programs, none deals with global issues of poverty, oppresion, government corruption, financial shenanigans, and other pressing issues of the neediest among us. And none has enough financial leverage. So I replied:

We now have the option of helping a billion children at a time, that is, all of them, with the possible exception of North Korean children. Their government absolutely will not allow it.

What these children need _most_ is not charity, although help with health, food, artificial limbs, clean water, and the like is not to be turned down while we work on the other issues. What they need is a combination of education and the technology for communication with each other and the rest of us. Then they will get and create jobs, and organize to take care of the rest in the next generation.

Charity cannot deal with the problem of corrupt governments, including election fraud, and financial mismanagement. Neither can foreign governments or international agencies. Only people power holding elected officials accountable can do that, even in the absence of honest elections.

My own line of attack is as Program Manager at Sugar Labs for Replacing Textbooks. Sugar Labs is the Free Software and Open Education Resource partner of One Laptop Per Child, a US-based non-profit that has provided more than 2 million educational laptops for schoolchildren. Several countries are digitizing their textbooks and building their own school computers.

Anybody can help. We need educators, writers, artists, subject-matter experts, translators, and people who can listen to children explain their problems and what they see as solutions.


See also Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom


About mokurai

Generalist; End poverty at a profit for all
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One Response to Diagnosis: Failure of Imagination

  1. Nitpicker77 says:

    As we promote discussion of deep topics from many points of view, it would serve us well to use the IBIS inspired dialog mapping which insists that any claim/statement/position be preceded by and connected to the exact question to which it is the answer. This clarifies the claim beautifully. See Jeff Conklin’s overpriced but valuable “Dialogue Mapping” for details. Indeed, I wish we had wikis that enforced that tree structure of Question -> Answers -> Pros & Cons with links to supporting materials and footnotes. Questions are more valuable than answers and also serve as an index into the discussion.

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