News Item: Orange County (just South of my Seminole County home) will “give” high school students “free” laptop computers for school use “Free of Charge!” Something like 7,300 of the devices to enable something they call “Digital Learning.” Well, Roman Catholic nuns supposedly supplied “digital learning” with “free” rulers decades ago and we got some pretty good leaders out of that arrangement. Let me explore for a few moments what this new view has to offer.
TANSTAAFL – an acronym supposedly first coined by Annapolis graduate and so-called Science Fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Who will pay for the laptops at first issue? What happens if the ‘putters are lost, stolen, broken, stolen or sold and then claimed lost, broken, stolen or sumsuch, say, by Christmas? Easter? What happens, say by week seven or year two when the devices become outmoded? Who pays and how runs the upgrades, who monitors the locks on inappropriate sites? Who pays for the watchers? Who watches the watchers?
The Law(s) of Unintended Consequence(s) have left behemoth-sized tracks all over this operatio…not so unusual in a government-run scheme, but some of the pachyderm-sized prints would give The Great Lakes a case of the inadequacies. And just how long do you think it will take the Middle Schoolers (ok, Scholars) or their teachers and administrators or their parents of responsible adults with ownership papers to form into unionized brigades and demand free laptops as well? Wanna bet by Halloween?
Will a student get to keep – and use – their own laptop or must they accept the communal standard? See where I am going?
Free always – ALWAYS – costs more, does less and takes more time. And maybe that’s the hidden agenda here. And by anecdotal accounts, free stuff is treated often by the recipients as worth exactly what they paid for whatever it was they got “For Free!”