Tech Gets Its Own “Modest Proposal”


In Jonathan’s Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” he postulates that one solution to the problem of poverty in Ireland is that the poor sell their offspring to rich people to be eaten. In Patrick McConlogue’s “Finding the unjustly homeless, and teaching them to code,” he makes a similar logical leap, that fixing the “lost pieces” of humanity can happen with a couple of books of JavaScript How Tos and an old laptop.

Except that McConlogue’s (he swears) isn’t satire.

To make a TL:DR story short: The problem with this is pure Kantian ethics: “Act so as to treat people always as ends in themselves, never as mere means.” While the intentions are obviously a lot more benevolent, McConlogue’s bet comes off as tone deaf as the time Paris Hilton’s boyfriend paid a homeless guy $100 to spill a soda on himself. You’re supposed to treat other humans like subjects, not objects, remember?

While he asserts that the title isn’t implying that some people are “justly” homeless, McConlogue, whose CrunchBase profile picture is a photo of him sailing, is demonstrating a profound cluelessness about poverty and the disenfranchised. In the most infinitesimally probable chance that “The Journeyman Hacker” chooses the coding above the money and he accepts the laptop, he is putting himself at risk of theft, every night.

Then there’s the issue of mental illness and the myriad factors beyond self-determination that would cause someone to be homeless in the first place. Ever hear of Ronald Regan?

“We (society) make things complicated when this is simple,” McConlogue writes. “I can walk by him tomorrow and ignore him, or I can offer the only things I have, the ability to write software and a small amount of cash. I choose to offer, maybe its wrong, maybe it its right but some things are matters of the heart.”

Well here’s a solution, if you want to bypass the traditional, and less morally suspect, “donate to a non-profit” route and “take action,” why not offer both the books and the cash?

1. Find unknown tech startup guy saying absurd things
2. Present as emblematic of broad problem
3. Enjoy RTs/pageviews
4. Enlighten nobody—
Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) August 21, 2013

Powered by WPeMatico

This entry was posted in GITEX. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply