Thursday, February 07, 2008

More Power to Them


Farrell said...

IF that is true, it is truely amazing.
Will I see you tonight at the blogger event?

no_slappz said...

Assemblers of parts are not engineers. Illiterate women are not engineers.

It is undoubtedly a good thing that these women are taught some basic skills. But it is a bad idea to encourage people to think they are what they are not.

As a person with a real American degree in engineering, I know what it means to have done the work that entitles me to call myself an engineer.

More troubling, however, is the notion that poverty in Africa, the middle east and South America can be overcome by teaching a small number of people how to assemble some useful products.

These people are illiterate because they live beneath the bootheels of oppressive governments. Those governments probably won't object to receiving benefits from do-gooders around the world.

But the tyrants, autocrats and dictators running the poor nations of the world will never take the steps to relieve the poverty in their nations because to do so would mean converting their countries to democratic, pluralistic, capitalistic nations that recognize private ownership of property.

Until that happens, all the nations cited in the video will remain impoverished.

Jaelithe said...

Farrell-- it's true-- I checked the school website.

No Slappz, these women are not pretending to have "real American" engineering degrees (by the by, would you consider, say, a Japanese engineering degree to be less real? Just out of curiosity). This video was produced in India. It's quite possible that the word engineer has different connotations in Indian English than it does in American English.

I don't believe that the leaders of this school think that world poverty will be completely overcome by this effort. The point is, they are doing SOMETHING to help. And what they are doing IS helping, one village at a time.

The problems of the world are discouraging, but that doesn't mean no one should even bother trying to solve them.

I am interested in this project not only because it is empowering women, helping impoverished communities, and helping the environment, but also because I am very curious about how they keep solar energy costs down enough to keep the program going. I would like to put solar panels on my own house, and I would like to know how people are getting access to cheap solar technology in other countries.

no_slappz said...

jaelithe, to answer your question, an engineering degree from any leading world nation is the definition of an engineering degree.

Moreover, India turns out a lot of excellent engineers, many of whom come to the US where there are more opportunities. However, due to limits on H1-B visas, the number of Indian engineers coming to the US is restricted -- and it's our loss.

Meanwhile, this project promotes a fantasy. Women are brutally oppressed in the countries cited in the video. They are oppressed for reasons that will not change as a result of this program.

Powerful medicine is needed to change their world for the better. But there is no will to do what needs doing. Instead, well meaning people create some warm feelings of hope by circulating a touching video rather than fomenting a revolution.

The thugs have to go before lives improve. These countries are almost all run by dictators and/or exist under the bootheel of islam.

As for how the project keeps solar energy costs down, you can be sure every part and every dollar spent to train the women is donated. Thus, there is no "cost" in the traditional accounting sense.