The Indian Economy Blog

August 7, 2006

OLPC — Rest in Peace — Part 2

Filed under: Business — Atanu Dey @ 5:42 pm

Voltaire’s dictum that the perfect is the enemy of the good is fascinating because of the delicious ambiguity embedded in it. The ambiguity arises from what one identifies as the “perfect” and the “good.” If perfection is by definition unattainable, and the good is defined as an attainable “optimal” (again defined suitably), then it is by definition true that an attempt to obtain an unattainable perfection can be a hindrance to an attainable good. Then the only disagreement remaining pertains to what is considered the “perfect” and what the “good.”

Since the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) proposal is being considered here, we have to have alternate proposals which can be considered in contradistinction to it. I propose, for arguments sake, the “One Blackboard Per School” (OBPS), “One Teacher Per School” (OTPS), and “One Set of Basic Facilities Per School” (OSOBFPS) schemes out of many potential candidates. First, we will consider how they stack up against the OLPC proposition. The next thing we do is to figure out which of the alternates is the one that is “perfect” and which therefore poses the threat to the achievement of the “good.”

It is almost common knowledge that hundreds of thousands of schools in India, especially in rural areas, don’t have blackboards and sometimes even chalk. I say “almost” because some people in positions of influence are apparently not fully aware of this ground reality. Some schools have student to teacher ratio approaching infinity (because the denominator tends to zero due to teacher absenteeism). Some schools are so strapped for resources that they cannot provide basic facilities such as toilets. It would be good to have schools where at a minimum the students are guaranteed a teacher who is present, a black board or two, some chalk, and a toilet if you please so that girls don’t suffer.

Proposing high tech tools such as laptops for education in light of the missing basic facilities is wonderfully surreal like the Cheshire cat’s disembodied smile. Alice in her adventures in Wonderland comes across the Cheshire cat and remarks that she has seen a cat without a smile before but never a smile without a cat. I have seen schools which have teachers and blackboards, and which also use laptops, but I have difficulty imagining a school where there are laptops but don’t have teachers, blackboards, chalk, and toilets. Perhaps I have not had much practice imagining impossible things.

There is a sort of hierarchy of needs when it comes to providing the basic infrastructure for education. You need, at a minimum, a trained teacher, a good place to learn in, and some teaching aids such as blackboard and chalk. Slates for the children is also a good idea if notebooks are too expensive. Next, it would be good to have books. If after providing those basics to all who need it (irrespective of their ability to pay), if we are still awash in funds, perhaps computers with internet connectivity for those who cannot afford them on their own should be provided.

Time for me to take a brief digression with tin-foil hat firmly atop my head. Why is it that you find billion dollar projects such as the OLPC but never hear of even million dollar proposals such as OBPS? The answer, I believe, lies in the nature and structure of the computer industry. Broadly it is oligopolistic. The major players can be counted on the digits of your hands. Heard of Intel, AMD, Microsoft, HP, Dell, etc? Of course you have. They have deep pockets and concentrated interests in pushing their wares on whichever market they can serve. Can you name any blackboard and chalk manufacturers? Nope. They are many, small, and barely eek out a living. So there are no OBPS schemes hitting the headlines screaming “The Blackboard Divide” unlike the OLPC and their wonderfully alliterative “Digital Divide” which strikes terror in the hearts of the do-gooders who are convinced that empowering children means giving them an expensive gizmo that neither they nor the economy can afford. (see Why Telephones, Radios, and TVs Don’t Make the Conference Circuits, Seduced by ICT, and Milking the Digital Divide.)

Well, never mind the tin-foil hat. Even non-wearers of tin-foil hats should recognize that there are commercial imperatives that motivate high-technology firms to push for adoption of expensive solutions to impoverished people. There doesn’t have to be a cabal hatching schemes with an evil glint in their eyes. If the developed economies’ markets are saturated, manufacturers of high-tech gizmos will seek out greener pastures to graze upon. When it comes to spending, educational or otherwise, it is a matter of choosing the most appropriate among several alternatives. And one has to be suitably grateful that one has the option of using laptops in school. My gripe is not that laptops are not a good idea; it is that in our case it is not appropriate because the sequencing is wrong and the cost is prohibitive.

Now we get back to my OBPS, OTPS, and OSOBFPS schemes. Let’s just reduce it to OBPS and let the headlines scream “OBPS to Bridge the Blackboard Divide.” Nope, it does not have the same zing to it as “OLPC to Bridge the Digital Divide.” Not high-tech enough; not much money in there; doesn’t make good advertising copy; doesn’t involve high-flying overpaid executives of multinationals corporations making breathless Powerpoint presentations on LCD projectors to developing economy government officials.

When I went to school, we were not on the wrong side of the blackboard divide (BD) although the digital divide (DD) was something astounding. None of us had even heard of laptops, leave alone own one. We had teachers, blackboards, chalk, slates, notebooks, books, and toilets, however. We sat in our simple classrooms, and did our sums. We (at least some of the time) paid attention to what was being taught and even did our homework. A few years later, we found ourselves proficient in the three R’s and went on to college. Moral of the story: it is possible to become educated without laptops.

Question: would we have become better educated if we had access to laptops and the internet? Arguably yes. At least some of us would have had a richer educational experience. Strictly speaking for myself, I would have probably flunked. I would have surfed the web for god alone knows what, I would have played computer games (I once spent an entire year playing Solitaire on my laptop), I would have wasted all my time socializing on the web. In short, I am grateful that I got access to the internet only after my basic education was complete. Even now, as a grown up and presumed responsible person, I find that my work suffers when I start surfing the web. I am sure that if my internet privileges are not restricted, I will probably never finish the work I am supposed to do and I fear that I will get fired. :)

If you have not read the overwhelming evidence about the dismal state of the Indian educational system, then take it from me for now: something like half the 7th standard students cannot read nor write and do arithmetic. Position that fact against the fact (mentioned earlier) that a large percentage of schools lack even the most basic of facilities. See the correlation? It is strongly suggestive of causation. Moral of the story: lack of basic facilities hinder basic education.

At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum, it is not a lack of laptops that is at the root of our illiterate and innumerate children; it is the “Blackboard Divide.” Giving children laptops will not achieve anything if they cannot illiterate and innumerate. Here is an illustrative personal anecdote.

A few weeks ago, I was staying at a Tata Chemicals guest house in New Delhi. For internet access, the guest house had a room with a couple of connected PCs. The housekeeper was a young Nepali who turned on a PC and told me the password. He watched intently as I checked my mail and did other sundry stuff. I then offered to teach him how to use the PC and the web, since his job left him with lots of free time. With great enthusiasm, I told him that all he has to do was to open a browser, and then type in the address and . . . That is when he blurted out that, aside from writing down phone numbers and taking down names, he does not read nor write. Yes, he had 24-hour access to connected PCs which he could use to his heart’s content, but the PCs were as useful to him as a bicycle to a fish. Moral of the story: bridge the literacy divide if you wish to have a hope of ever bridging the digital divide.

Now it is time to do the numbers. Allow me to compare the OLPC against the OBPS (“one blackboard per school”) proposals. In a previous post (“The OLPC – Rest in Peace”) I did some back of the envelope calculations. For one million children, the cost was estimated to be US$ 200 million for the first year. Assuming that the laptops have a working life of three years, the total cost of ownership of one million laptops works out to be US$ 320 million ($200 million for the first year, and $60 million each subsequent years for “use costs”). That is approximately, $100 per child per year.

A brief note on the numbers. These are educated guesses and are suggestive of the magnitude rather than exact numbers. I believe that the argument is sufficiently robust that minor deviations from actual numbers will not affect it materially.

The $100 per child per year cost of OLPC is not instead of the other costs of teaching but rather in addition to it. You still need teachers, blackboards, and other facilities. The OLPC assumes that these are a given. I contend that there are hundreds of thousands of schools with tens of millions of children who don’t have the basics, and giving them OLPC will be about as useful as throwing both ends of the rope to a drowning person—a grand-looking gesture but of no utility. The available funds have alternate uses. Let’s examine one alternative use for a bit.

Consider a small rural school with 300 children. Ten teachers, 10 classrooms, and a few other basic amenities. From our experience, the operating cost of the school is around $12,000 per year, which includes teacher salaries ($1,000 per year). Additionally, books and other teaching and learning material add another $3,000. Total cost per year (neglecting land and building costs): $15,000, or $50 per student per year. Note that two-thirds of the operating costs of the school is allocated to teacher salaries. This has important consequences.

If we consider about 100 million children in the age group 4 through 15 need to be in school in rural India, then the total cost is of the order of US$5 billion per year. Given the student/teacher ratio of 30, we will employ about 3.33 million teachers at an annual wage cost of around $3.33 billion. The two important words in there are “employ” and “wages.” We are employing educated people as teachers and they are earning wages which they spend in the rural areas. The forward and backward linkages of this wage spending affect the entire economy more positively than the spending on buying high-cost high-technology gadgets. I posit that the multiplier effect of employing teachers in schools is greater than that of buying OLPC for India.

Let us now consider the OLPC. I am assuming that the intent is to give the laptops to children who already are going to schools which have the basic infrastructure and who have the support of teachers and parents. That is, I cannot imagine giving laptops to children who have no schools to go to. So in effect, those who lack even a basic school, don’t get laptops. The much lamented “digital divide” is being increased rather than decreased when seen from the point of view of the tens of millions who don’t even see the insides of a school. So therefore, giving an already “privileged” child a laptop at the cost of $100 per year is depriving two children of a basic education for a year (which as we estimated costs $50 per child per year.)

Imagine the government of India spending $100 a year on a relatively privileged one million children and depriving two million children of going to school. Let’s leave aside the thorny question of who gets to get the goodies; no doubt vote bank politics will figure centrally in the decision and go to further pitch one caste/religion/linguistic group against another. The immorality of arbitrarily deciding to favor one group over another is odious and abhorrent.

I absolutely agree that meritocracies fuel the engine of growth upon which pluralistic heterogeneous societies depend for economic growth and development. The issue is one of identifying the constituent elements of these meritocracies. I also admit that innate talent and abilities are endogenously determined, as Dr Banerjee pointed out in the previous post. This endogenous determination must be catalyzed through making opportunities available to as large a population as possible. The net must be cast wide to identify those who would be most able to benefit from an education. In this respect, while the OLPC has the potential to help a percentage of those who get them, it will also assuredly deny twice as many an opportunity to advance.

Now on to the point we began our deliberations with. Which of the two—the OLPC or the OBPS—is the “perfect” and which the “good”? If OLPC is the prefect solution, then clearly it will impair the good solution of providing basic educational opportunities to many; if the OBPS is the perfect solution, then the OLPC, as the good solution, may be prevented. My position is the former: in an ideal world, where all children have the opportunity to gain a basic education irrespective of the accident of birth, giving all children laptops will be an unalloyed blessing. An ideal world, which in our case we have not got, would admit the perfect solution and no trade offs will be required. The imperfect world, which is what we have, requires we trade off the potential benefit of the few for the guaranteed benefit of the many.

In conclusion, allow me to stress that I am not a Luddite. I have a deep and abiding faith in the ability of technology to solve technical problems. Today I find it inconceivable providing higher education without the aid of PCs, laptops, and the internet. Even for certain aspects of basic education, I am convinced that we have to use the power of the advances in information and communications technologies if we have to fix our educational system. In fact, I am betting my future on the use of computers for providing effective and relevant education efficiently. My proposal, however, does not depend on spending public monies on selectively providing laptops to some school children while denying some others even the opportunity for basic education.

24 Comments »

  1. Atanu,

    You have looked at the opportunity cost of the OLPC project to make an effective argument against it. Analysing it the other way around, I reached the same conclusion. To explain further, read on-

    If one looks at the contraints to provision of education, laptops are hardly the limiting constraint. A minimal infrastrucutre and a few dedicated teachers is all we need in the first place. Access to books, teaching aids, labs, followed by exposure to other cultures, environments for learning by watching/ doing come next. Laptops are an aid to access information and also enable learning of certain skills that come after these constraints have been eliminated, at least IMHO.

    There is a natural hierarchy of constraints. Failure to recognize this and address these is partially responsible for schemes like the OLPC. Commercial motivations even if not evil, are the other drivers.

    Quite simply, our inability to provide education is the biggest threat to our development. Since the positive effects of education do not translate into satisfied voters quickly enough for politicians to invest in this activity, progress is slow. The challenge quite cearly is to find incentives to influence public policy in the right direction to find appropriate solutions to the poverty of education that afflicts our nation.

    Comment by little Ram — August 7, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

  2. Mr. Atanu,
    ” I have difficulty imagining a school where there are laptops but don’t have teachers, blackboards, chalk, and
    toilets.”- I dont think you would have difficulty in imagining the absence of all these-a school, maybe i should
    not refer it to as a school, only the students and the classrooom, and once in a while teachers come and go. This
    wouldnt be visible in urban areas though.

    Atanu, you are right in saying that we cant even come up with the name of a chalk or slate manufacturers. India
    is in an abysmal condition.

    “My gripe is not that laptops are not a good idea; it is that in our case it is not appropriate because the sequencing is wrong and the cost is prohibitive.” I concur with this argument completely.

    “it is possible to become educated without laptops.” Ha Ha. Well said!

    Excellent post, Mr. Dey!

    Comment by Alex — August 7, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

  3. A long time back (1992), the late Myron Weiner of MIT published a passionate book called “The Child and the State in India: Child Labor and Education Policy in Comparative Perspective” where he shows that (i) countries poorer than India have managed to eliminate child labour and provide universal primary education and (ii) the failure of India to do the same is mostly a “cultural” failure embodying an elite unconcern. He traced this to the Hindu social system. (Though since Pakistan and Bangladesh – but not Sri Lanka – share this unconcern, it is not clear how much the “caste” system is to blame.)

    Fifteen or so years later, not much has changed. The odd thing is that even though Indian politics has changed beyond recognition with the coming of age of Dalit/OBC politicians, these politicians seem to have brought in to the unconcern of the upper caste elite. Much of the posturing of the OBC/Dalit politicians are about quotas which by their very nature help mostly the “elite” amongst the OBCs/Dalits. There is no pressure from these politicians for building and maintaining good quality primary schools. Presumably, this is not a vote-getting issue unlike quotas. The consequence of this is that we grow up in a segregated society. I went to a private school (the choice of my parents) and during my entire school career, I knew no Dalits and only a couple of Muslims. This type of de facto segregation is not good for our society and I suspect that among middle-class kids, this is not an unusual experience even now.

    When P. Chidambaram handed Rs. 100 crores to Indian Institute of Science in one of his budgets, I was disappointed that no one protested. Chidambaram justified his allotment on the grounds that we need “world class institutions.” Somebody should have told him that what we need are world class schools which can end our shameful legacy of child labour and not world class universities. Provision of world class universities can be left to the private sector. For the record, places like TIFR, IISC etc. were all started by the private sector.

    To see the type of effort that can really make a difference, see this article from “Manushi”:

    http://tinyurl.com/zpc5y

    Comment by economist — August 7, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

  4. What economist said is absolutely true. The government needs to see that the elementary education is awarded to all,
    instead or giving the already established institutions like TIFR,IISc etc.

    Comment by Alex — August 7, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

  5. If you want to really understand education infrastructure in India, study the balance sheet of big companies in India!

    Why?

    Look for which geographic areas maximum profit is coming for this big companies, you will find those are the resource rich areas in India, whether it is mining or cash crops like tea you will find the lowest education infrastructure in those areas. think……

    Economics is a zero sum game, for someone to make high profit someone else must lose. This is why all religious texts say making high profit by any entity, person or company(aggregation of wealth) is not good for the society. When companies take more wealth others have less!

    Comment by GeneralPublic — August 8, 2006 @ 7:39 am

  6. I am guessing that GeneralPublic is trolling. If there is a non-zero sum game in the universe, it is definitely economic development.

    BTW, just for the record. Indian religions do not look down upon profit. Check out the “Shubh Labh” written in many temples and places of worship.

    It is a stupid commie ideology to claim that someone has to lose for someone else to make a profit.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — August 8, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

  7. i think the biggest factor you ignore is time. the concept of one laptop per child is quick to implement. the
    stakeholders will ensure that alteast the wealth is spread in a fairer manner than what one is accustomed
    to in india.

    yes, we have a big issues regarding education. but i cannot imagine the amount of work that needs to be
    done to upgrade it will be short term. there is neither the vision nor the political will for long term
    planning.

    in this type of environment OLPC is a shortcut albeit not a perfect one. let us not underestimate the human
    intelligence and the interest to learn. remember that once upon a time we felt that we have to go through
    the phase of black & white tvs before moving on to colour; also remember that we thought that there should
    widespread landlines before cellular phone had their day.

    let us not be dogmatic. give the OLPC. even if 50% are benefitted, with the others discarding it or just
    using it as a showpiece, we would have achieved unparalleled success.

    Comment by phantom363 — August 8, 2006 @ 7:28 pm

  8. Brilliant post.

    I agree whole heartedly…

    Comment by Amit Doshi — August 8, 2006 @ 7:29 pm

  9. Perhaps I misunderstood, but you seem to be implying that OLPC is somewhat superfluous while basic facilities like chalk, blackboard and toilets are still missing from primary schools. I disagree. It is a travesty that most of our schools are missing basic facilities, but creating a priority queue for facilities will only slow things down. I say, if OLPC gets implemented, let it get done. Combined with imaginative projects like Digital Study Hall (http://dsh.cs.washington.edu/), it can make a very real difference in the quality of basic education in India.

    Comment by Nisha — August 8, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  10. Nisha,

    There are much simpler things that can be done to improve the quality of education in India; the OLPC, as Atanu notes, is far too grandiose a scheme and its payoffs are hardly clear. Even worse, it is susceptible to massive corruption.

    You might want to take a look at the webpages of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT at

    http://www.povertyactionlab.com/

    See especially the list of projects. Among these, of interest, is the report on a monitoring scheme in Rajasthan to get teachers to come to school regularly. The idea is quite simple, yet the payoffs are high. This is unlike OLPC which is grandiose in conception with highly uncertain payoffs.

    Comment by economist — August 8, 2006 @ 10:08 pm

  11. A brilliant piece of subcontinental prose.

    Dont get hung up on the word “laptop” ? I guess some people associate that with luxury or extravagance. It is just a compute rin a laptop form factor, for crying out loud !

    Your anecdotes about the Nepali unfortunately falls way short, does this person go to school in India ? I too have personal anecdotes which point to the exact opposite. I can show you at least three slum kids who you cant beat easily in the computer version of Kaun Banega Crorepati. They have nothing in the corporation school so they come to my uncles house and I gave tham that CD.

    Not all schools are the absolute pits, most schools do have blackboards and teachers for the higher grades. The school itself is just uninspiring and the lack of innovation or excitement in their pedagogy is depressing. This is where atleast the most motivated ones can seek out knowledge for themselves using the laptop.

    The OLPC will not magically solve all problems of primary education instantly. I think we are all aware of the blackboard divide. A scaling up of comupter facilities cannot wait till the blackboard divide is eliminated. We do not live in La-la land, everything must take into account political commitments or lack thereof and implementation. To hold the line that only after the blackboard, toilet, and teacher divides are addressed must we even start thinking about giving kids access to computers is quite unrealistice.

    Anyway, I guess a lot of folks agree with you. The reality is that (1) we will never address the blackboard divide nor will (2) allow computers into classrooms because in a curious case of circular logic (1) is not addressed. Now I feel like this sounds like the mad hatter.

    On the ground I can take you to a dozen schools where kids would love to have what their middle class and upper class counterparts take for granted. You cant get the mouse away from them.

    Please dont take this personally, I cant stomach such a brouhaha over 450 Crores that will directly benefit 1M kids(y who go to government schools in various stages of dilapidation. Parallelly we are throwing around numbers like 16,000 Crores for tertiary education, which I contend is even of less importance than equipping primary schools with laptops (err computers).

    Comment by realitycheck — August 8, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

  12. One more thing to consider,

    Operation Blackboard was launched in 1987 by the government to address the blackboard divide.

    What happened to it ? 19 years and a whole generation later – we are still talking about this in even more ominous tones !

    We cant wait for something that will never happen, and worse to use that to scuttle something else that we can make happen immediately.

    Comment by realitycheck — August 9, 2006 @ 12:12 am

  13. IF every student had a multimedia capable laptop and the training to use it (I know that is a BIG if) you could imagine students receiving lessons from a remote teacher or learning from other sources such as podcasts and websites.

    I would do without a blackboard or an uninspired teacher if I had a laptop with an internet connection.

    The real issue is deployment, training and maintenance in rural settings

    Comment by HaveNotReadVoltaire — August 9, 2006 @ 1:58 am

  14. I absolutely agree with you about the sequencing of interventions. A friend of mine worked with Vikas Vikalp (NGO HQ’ed in Dilli) who were trying to implement a e-literacy programme in the Bundelkhand region. They started off by opening up franchisee-styled free/subsidised computer centers aimed but noticed that attendance stayed low. On inquiry, they found that most kids/youth/adults in the area didnt know enough English. They eventually ended up establishing basic English classes!

    Comment by Etlamatey — August 9, 2006 @ 3:19 am

  15. “It is a stupid commie ideology to claim that someone has to lose for someone else to make a profit.”

    Key people in communist movement were all jews, check out nobel laureate list in economics past 30 years you will find 90% jews. So communism and capitalism are just two sides of the propaganda machine which made jews the richest community in the world today, wake up and look beyond jewish “paper economics” propaganda!

    Credit and debit should balance in basic accountancy! Isn’t it zero sum?

    When credit and debit does not balance is what we call profit…… People who write “Shubh Labh” in places of worship also practice hereditary caste system! Labh for self and Nasht for others.

    It is not that one should not make profit, without profit there is no motivation, but when profit taking exceeds a certain limit (too much aggregation of wealth) there is a social imbalance, that will eventually lead to social strife and equilibrium is established again, history repeats itself.

    Comment by GeenralPublic — August 9, 2006 @ 9:21 pm

  16. GeenralPublic wrote: “… Key people in communist movement were all jews, check out nobel laureate list in economics past 30 years you will find 90% jews…”

    Dear Lord in Heaven! The general public’s grasp on logic is very feeble. Our education system seriously sucks.

    A. Some key people are jews.
    B. Some jews are noble prize winning economists.
    C. Therefore ??

    GeenralPublic’s non sequitur follows: “So communism and capitalism are just two sides of the propaganda machine which made jews the richest community in the world today, wake up and look beyond jewish “paper economics” propaganda!”

    Attention IndianEconomy Editor: Cleanup in aisle 4.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — August 11, 2006 @ 7:11 am

  17. “paper economics” means the economic system that allows printing and using currency without any redemption obligation in terms of “goods and services” and fractional reserve banking system that allows banks to loan out more currency than they have in deposits.

    If both these facilities are available to any entity that entity can easily “aggregate wealth” and control global economy, that is what is happening today. Economists are acting like they don’t understand what’s happening……

    Comment by GeneralPublic — August 11, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  18. “If both these facilities are available to any entity that entity can easily “aggregate wealth” and control global economy, that is what is happening today. Economists are acting like they don’t understand what’s happening…”
    HAHAHA
    So I can potentialy control global economy by issuing bills of paper with a picture of my ass on it, I can keep printing and aggregate wealth?
    Wow brilliant.
    Forget creating a product that the market wants.
    Its all about printing that paper in any quantity i want and still be able to things in return for it.
    Wah GP Wah (GP =gand phutey)

    Comment by Guru Gulab Khatri — August 11, 2006 @ 11:30 pm

  19. “So I can potentialy control global economy by issuing bills of paper with a picture of my ass on it, I can keep printing and aggregate wealth?”

    Your picture may not work, so does picture of Fed Chairman or RBI Chairman. When a living person picture is printed on currency that person will be responsible for redemption of currency against “products & services”. That is why dead people pictures are printed on currency.

    See proof….

    http://dynamic.cnn.com/apps/tp/video/tech/2006/08/01/wian.living.in.a.box.affl/video.ws.asx

    Comment by GeneralPublic — August 12, 2006 @ 8:34 am

  20. GeneralPublic, you seriously have to reconsider your thoughts on jewish dominance, paper economics and zer sum games. The austrian school of economics has long ago argued that innovation is what really drives the economy. Innovation has brought about all the revolutions that we have seen so far !!! The digital or the information revolution has created a global services economy so powerful that it is sweeping past age old beliefs about what products and services really are!!

    Looks like you have lost a ton of money by wrongly betting on stocks ;) and therefore stick to your zero-sum logic.

    Amartya Sen has written a wonderful book “Development as Freedom” and I suggest it as a good read!

    Comment by Girish Mallapragada — August 25, 2006 @ 8:35 am

  21. It is energy that drives economy / ecosystem. Human innovations originate from availability of energy – agriculture, animal power, slave labour power, fossil fuel power. Innovation stops when energy availability becomes unsustainable, that is why rise and fall of civilizations happen, not because innovation stops.

    If you want to call slavery an innovation it was! If you want to call paper economics an innovation, it is!

    All token based transaction systems should have a redemption obligation by issuer of tokens isn’t it? Why do you think US forces are in Iraq? Is oil the redemption mechanism for dollar?

    What is the redemption mechanism for Indian Rupee? Why do you think Indian farmers are committing suicide?

    Can Austrian economics explain why Indian farmers are committing suicide?
    http://www.paecon.net/

    Can Amartya Sen explain why Indian farmers are committing suicide?

    Comment by GeneralPublic — August 28, 2006 @ 6:45 am

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    Comment by equity loans — December 8, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

  23. “Can Austrian economics explain why Indian farmers are committing suicide?

    uh -yes.

    Comment by Dsylex — January 12, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

  24. Can Austrian economics explain why Indian farmers are committing suicide?

    Yes, why not?

    And why do not you know that it is the government interventionism which almost banned the traditional seeds and forced GM seeds on farmers causing the havoc?
    How Government kills Poor Farmers

    Government is the disease masquerading as the cure of itself!

    Comment by GarGi Dixit — January 16, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

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