Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Progress, pleasure, and poverty

An NYT op-ed by Manu Joseph (via E. Loomis at LGM) insists that the poor, in this case in India, want to have fun and that they should be given Internet connectivity via cellphones and should decide the uses to which it is put (as opposed to a government official telling them). Because, Joseph intones: "It is not always true that entertainment is the collateral consequence of progress; progress, often, is the collateral benefit of the pursuit of pleasure."

I'm happy to agree with Joseph that fun is "a profound human need" and I'm for autonomy and all that, but I'm not sure about the notion that progress is often a collateral benefit of the pursuit of pleasure (sometimes it may be, sometimes not). Anyway, it's beside the point, which is, as I pointed out in a comment at LGM, that extreme poverty remains a serious problem in India, despite its considerable economic progress in recent years. Whether a parent whose child has died of a preventable poverty-related cause will be consoled by watching serials on TV or online seems to me an open question, to put it mildly.

(This reminds me that I've had a related post sitting in draft for a while. Will try to post it fairly soon.)

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