[ExI] it was the best times, it was the best of times

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Oct 4 03:56:22 UTC 2013


An offlist commentary by a friend really has my wheels turning, compelling
me to rephrase Dickens.


In all of human history, now is unique in many ways, but I thought of a
pleasant one: if one is a pauper, especially a young one, it is definitely
the best of times.  I don't know about other countries, but if one's
standards in housing are not too picky, we now have developed a society
where a pauper can really have a decent life, especially if one's favorite
thing is devouring information in all its forms, and is a light eater.  


Consider for instance the way it has always been.  If you have a ton of
money, you can of course get the best mates, the best home, the best food,
the best wheels etc.  We know that, and that hasn't changed a bit, ever.
But in the old days, if you had nothing, you couldn't really even get
training: you couldn't learn to read, or if you could read, you couldn't get
reading materials readily.  There were public libraries, but we all know
that the books there were generally outdated.  Certainly better than
nothing, but compare a typical public library to Stanford bookstore and you
know exactly what I mean: Stanford's store is expensive, but highly selected
with only the most wicked cool stuff in there.  Of course it costs money.


But now. it feels to me like we now have aaaaaalllll thiiiiis coooool stuff
available online to the pauper, the free online training tools, the really
meaty websites filled with skills that rich and poor alike need to struggle
to master.  There is still no royal road to trigonometry.  In that sense it
is the best of times for really poor people.  You can pick up internet on a
200 dollar Kindle or equivalent, and there is free wifi over most of this
town now.  It isn't the fastest and a Kindle isn't the best interface, but
for two days' minimum wage, look at all the stuff you can get!


This has all given me a vision of sorts, which ties in nicely with the
current US government's thrashing about, partially shut down, so they say.
The fed was hoping someone would notice.  So far we have learned we can do
just fine without their expensive help.


This shutdown is all about how we are going to do our healthcare.  I would
argue the proposed solution will be just as broken as the one before it, but
I did think of a way that might help.  In many countries in the world,
people go to medical school right out of high school.  I personally know two
doctors who went to medical school, one in Iran, the other in China.  Both
practiced medicine for several years there.  Neither has managed to get
licensed here.  I think we could set up a system where aspiring doctors
could do much of their qualification for medical school online, starting at
any time.  Much of medical school could be done with online training as
well.  In this way we could generate many more doctors.  Of course they
would likely not be as competent as our current crop, but they would have
far less investment in their education, so they could charge a lot less.



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