Timmy elsewhere

The Times of India has published a book talking to Indian engineers about how to get a good career, education, job, all that sort of stuff. They picked up something I had said about Facebook’s Free Basics in that country. The question:

DO YOU THINK WEBSITES LIKE FACEBOOK’S FREE BASICS (FORMERLY
INTERNET.ORG) ARE A CHARITABLE WAY TO MAKE THE INTERNET
ACCESSIBLE TO LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES?

My answer:

I CARE NOT one whit whether Free
Basics is a charitable method of
providing basic internet access. As a
pure utilitarian I do care whether it
will be useful and whether it will aid
in reducing poverty. As the answer
here is yes, it will (and one of our
great proofs comes from a study of
mobile phones and sardine fishermen
in Kerala), then that’s good
enough for me. We know that
increased access to communication
resources for poor communities aid
in completing markets, the most
basic first step in gaining economic
growth. For, that is the necessary
condition for us to have Adam
Smith’s division and specialisation of
labour as in the pin factory.
As Viscount Ridley recently quoted
me as saying: “Tim Worstall, who
wrote recently: ‘Someone is offering
to give away one of the few things
we know about that
absolutely increases
economic growth.
And people are
whining about it?’”
Increased access
will aid the poor. So,
let’s do it then. And
questions about
how are near irrelevant.
Charitable? Paid? Net neutrality?
They are just whining about trivia
compared to the basic point at issue.

No, I don’t know why they wanted me either.

7 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. The Times of India has published a book talking to Indian engineers about how to get a good career, education, job, all that sort of stuff.

    I bet nowhere in the book does it mention the importance of not lying, nor the importance of speaking out when a mistake is discovered instead of ploughing on regardless.

  2. You’re a utilitarian, Tim? A ‘pure’ utilitarian? Do you really know what that means, and what it entails?

  3. They aren’t the same. Utilitarianism requires consequentialism, but consequentialism doesn’t entail utilitarianism. (But many consequentialists are utilitarians, and some would argue that if you accept consequentialism then utilitarianism is the most plausible moral theory that is now open to you.)

  4. Cal, Tim, this is getting a bit too postmodern for me.

    And let’s not forget that stuff usually isn’t free just because no money changes hands. It’s fiendishly difficult to know just what the cost to the consumer is with any form of electronic communication service.

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