Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why One Laptop Per Child will fail

The inevitable grumblings have already begun. The much vaunted One Laptop Per Child was doomed before it ever started. Even if Nicholas Negroponte was somehow magically able to get 200 million laptops into Africa at absolutely no cost to anyone, the program would still fail. The laptops are cool and might be worth buying in their own right -- but the greatest technology in the world will not turn the continent around. Here's why.

Prosperity is not built on technology -- it is built on a platform of fundamental human rights. Prosperity can only be created in a society that respects property, the rule of law and free markets (not something the left is yet adept at defending or understanding). One Laptop Per Child succumbs to the Jeffrey Sachs fallacy - the "Poverty Trap" lie.

From the OLPC website:
The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege.

Education in and of itself is not a recipe for freedom and prosperity. At the end of the day, OLPC-type initiatives end up being self-serving "feel good" exercises in futility that keep the leftists chugging along in justifying their atrocious record in securing peace and prosperity across the globe. As the program fails, expect the usual finger pointing -- blaming US for not doing enough. Don't buy it...

This should not be confusing or controversial. For millennia, human prosperity flat-lined. It is only within the past 300 years that humans have learned to save and generate wealth. The "secret sauce" is not hard to discover - property rights, minority (individuals) protections from governments, justice in the courts, and capitalism. Before laptops, Africa needs fewer Mugabes, Mandelas, and Thabo Mbeki's and more "Declarations of Indepedence."

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