Sunday, August 5, 2012

“The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all their brains.”

A couple of posts back I used the Ayn Rand quote from the title.  It's from Atlas Shrugged, a work of fiction, but it's not a bad description of the social vision we sometimes hear, where all affluence seeps down from the top, where the people at the economic pinnacle deserve their place, and provide more social good than they receive in compensation, and the people at the bottom of the economic ladder  deserve their lowly place, and in fact that they live on unearned charity from those above them.  

Here is a link to a TED talk by an educator named Sugata Mitra about his experiments with providing to children in very poor areas of India an environment in which there was something to learn.  I mean exactly what that sentence said: he provides an environment, nothing else.  No teacher, no guidance.  He provides a computer with some content, and leaves for months at a time.  In some cases the content on the computer was complex, and in a language the children did not speak. 

These are the children of the people at the bottom, who Rand thinks are so intellectually inept that they cannot survive on their own.