Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Our right? OUR right?

I am looking -- no, staring, at this reader's letter to Tempo magazine. It is about cheap laptop supply for developing countries. He basically, literally, says, "As citizens of developing countries, we have the right to enjoy such services... Developed countries are obliged to provide easy facilities to global citizens, especially those in the third world".


Update: Oh, it's going to be Linux-based. I guess the letter writer will send another this-is-my-right-that-is-your-obligation letter saying that it should come with a free training in Linux.


  1. If you think it is not a given right, what do you think we should accomplish in order to enjoy such privileges?
    1. Academic achievements?
    2. Wealth?
    3. Persistence and endeavour to obtain the opportunities?

    Irma Kurniawan

  2. Irma, I think no.1. You get a scholarship for studying overseas. Save some of your allowance and buy a new laptop. The laptop is actually free.

    No. 2. You get a scholarship, but your mom can still buy you a new laptop. (like what happen to my sister) The laptop is still considered free.

    No.3. You get a Master scholarship and get a free laptop. Then after 2 years, you get a PhD scholarship and get a newer-tech laptop.

    Basically, no.1 :)

  3. Irma, as Anymatters implies, anything, but not nothing. There is no such thing as a free lunch (In his examples, Anymatters is teasing you: it's not 'free' because you have to study hard first). The way that Tempo reader framed it, as if he deserved a cheap laptop just because he came from a developing country; and it is the obligation of developed country to give him one.

  4. I'm from a developing country. I deserve to have: 1) free cable TV, 2) free internet connection, 3) and in addition to that, I should be forgiven from all of my sins.

  5. ah AP, but before your rights achieved you have to have people who work hard eliminating poverty. after all, some people dream about world free of poverty...

    as the third-country residents, it's our right to have such people reducing (if not eliminating) our poverty...

  6. So as a poor people I have right to have money even if I don't bother to work? And the rich people has the 'obligation' to give me the money. Is it what they call robbery??

  7. But isn't that the basic reasoning behind welfare states and progressive taxation? Welfare states protect their weakest members with welfare checks and by providing free access to health, education, etc. I'm not sure how the logic applies when it's between countries, but it's not completely far-fetched.


  8. Fik, that might be the reason behind welfare state idea: protecting the weakest. But that doesn't mean it is a good policy. If it is really good, A.p's sarcasm will become truism. As one Anonymous said, it is just a robbery.

  9. Irma,

    The OLPC is supposed to be easy enough for kids to learn without training. It's Linux-based, sure, but uses an entirely new interface -- try it for yourself: download the live CD here.

    Good news is, ASUS is coming with a cheap, sub-$300 laptop, and Quanta, which manufactures the OLPC, might come out with a commercial version too.

    PS the OLPC's keyboard might be too small for adult usage. I'm probably getting one anyway, under the buy-1-donate-1 scheme -- anyone interested?

  10. Anymatters,

    Just to be picky, no (3) is an almost impossible scenario. Master degrees don't come with scholarships, except if you have some working experience in your country (those similar to chevening awards). People who are not necessarily able to get no (1) or (2) will not find no (3) as an easier solution. This simply highlights the feeling of being trapped and hopeless that people in a developing country have. And this, I am sure, is ubiquitous. Is it not only human then, for them to insist such affirmative action / benevolence from the wealthy and capable to spare some change? If we wish to 'help' those who have not reached (probably) the place where some of us are (e.g., studying overseas, having the privileged access to science, knowledge, and information) to excel themselves, must we be so harsh on them?