Our Politicians Are Children
I was going to celebrate National Shutdown Day
today and not blog, but then I checked their website.We've teamed up with the National Laptop Foundation, a new non-profit organisation launching on World Earth Day, to help underprivileged children, the elderly and schools and doctors in third world countries have access to the internet, by recycling & refurbishing old unwanted & broken computers.
I can't find the National Laptop Foundation on line, but
cursory googling found this site
and this one
which are about providing American children with laptop computers, and there are loads of other initiatives including clockwork and solar-powered computers for those who live in areas without mains electricity.
To me, computers are but a tool - an expensive pen and inexpensive post office. Mine is also a diary and an all-round information source, an encyclopaedia. It's my filing cabinet and notebook, my easel and photo album. It's also my sound system and I wouldn't want to live without that. I don't take it with me, in the same way that I don't carry my TV or refrigerator. I don't think I need a laptop as I can carry loads of files on my USB flashdrive or on a CD.
I can see that a knowledge of computers and how to work them is of great importance. I bought my first one, a Commodore Vic 20, some 25 years ago for Son No.1 to play with and learn on. He now has a company website
under construction and Our Kid has a Friendster page and a computer he calls his own. Early familiarity with computers has a value.
The price of computers continues to come down and refurbished laptops, suitable for most people's needs, can be purchased in Jakarta for as little as $500, which is twice the price in, for example, the UK. I should, therefore, be applauding the news that the House of Representatives is proceeding with a plan to procure laptops for all 550 legislators.
I am somewhat surprised that they haven't already got one to complete their sets of electronic gadgetry - two or three handphones, palm organiser, iPod et al - but if a laptop computer will empower them as much as lap dancers, then go for it I say.
Or rather, would have said until I noticed the budget - Rp. 21 million (US$2,300) per unit. As the proposal also includes the provision of 'expert staff' to train the legislators, there is a strong indication that far from being a priority need, this is another scam
being perpetrated at the expense of the populace.Arbi Sanit, a political analyst at the University of Indonesia, said he doubted the laptops would improve the House's overall performance.
"Legislators behave like soldiers, whose necessities, from pants, food, electricity, telephones and foreign trips, are financed by the state, while their constituents are left malnourished, sick and uneducated,
" he said.
"If the House is committed to improving its performance, it should repair its operational system and internal rulings and set itself a minimum target of tasks to achieve. At the same time, legislators should change their mindset
Ah, the mindset of children. Gimme, gimme. And like little children, once these legislators set their minds on something, a laptop Barbie doll perhaps, they are incapable of flexibility.Speaker Agung Laksono
(of Adam Air infamy) said here Friday it was impossible for the House to suspend the laptop procurement because it was already approved and included in the 2007 state budget following a House decision in October 2005.
So, if it takes a year and a half for decisions that benefit the legislators themselves to be activated, what chance is there for the rest of us
Rather than a National Shutdown Day of computers, perhaps we should call for one of parliament. But the cynics among you would say that no-one would notice. Why bother?