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What good is charity? A proposal.

Bill Gates, Bono (of U2 fame) and Melinda Gates have been named as the 2005 TIME magazine persons of the year. The Gateses were chosen partly for the $3+ billion their foundation spends on third world public health each year, but just as importantly, as a tribute to the Gateses' and Bono's ability to sway entities with even larger pockets into contributing.

Certainly, the donated money will improve, and rescue, the lives of large numbers of people. TIME writes that the Gateses' foundation alone has helped save at least 700.000 lives in poor countries, and I'm sure it has had a very positive impact on many more.

However, I am not certain how this manner of help is going to make things better in the long term. There are 6 billion people in the world, and the vast majority of these people are poor. Some argue relativity, that poor people are only poor materially. This article, among many others, shows how these people are also poor mentally. Their states of mind are medieva…

Nationalism and languages

I think people need to be more open to let their languages simplify and change.

In my experience, the primary reason why these days many unnecessary complexities endure is destructive: nationalistic pride, arising out of a fear that the nation will otherwise be trampled. Fear of change, fear of foreigners.

In order to protect this sense of false security, people go to great lengths to maintain traditions which would have long become a useless burden otherwise. Examples are plenty: the French language board, a Don Quixotic attempt to "protect" against English; Japan and Kanji, taking children a perplexingly long time to learn, which they could spend learning many more things that would be more useful (including, perhaps, a foreign language?).

We are all human; only good can come from mixing freely. Maintaining dysfunctional traditions just for the sake of it does not lead anywhere (except perhaps to war). Nationalism is inherently bad.

I'm not American, and not from an Englis…

O pretiranem konzervatizmu

V družbah po svetu poteka večen boj med novim in starim: med idejami, ki so se v preteklosti izkazale za uspešne, in drugimi idejami, ki se v novih okoliščinah zde obetavnejše. Velikokrat se izkaže, da so stare ideje še vedno pravilne: nove rešitve, ki naj bi nadomestile starejše, so pogosto nedodelane ali pa so včasih preprosto naivne. Pri uveljavljanju novih idej je treba paziti, da se ne zanemari modrost, ki je vodila do starih.

Vendar pa ta esej ni o nespameti novih idej. Kadar se novost izkaže kot nefunkcionalna, je povratek na staro in boljšo rešitev navadno še vedno možen in običajno tudi hitro izvedljiv. Namesto tega želim govoriti o nasprotni vrsti nespameti, ki je škodljivejša od prejšnje. To je nasprotovanje novim idejam iz principa; ne na podlagi njihovih dejanskih pomanjkljivosti, temveč iz želje po ohranjanju starih, tradicionalnih idej.

V zadnji evropski izdaji revije TIME (datum izdaje 2005-06-06) je možno prebrati o težavah, s katerimi se v Indiji v naporih proti AIDSu …