Of course, anything the State does is not giving, though, is it?* This could well be even more sinister than that.
The State is in truth saying that they plan to force Taxpayers to pay for internet access for every child at home. The parents will be asked to pay towards it, too. Do you think this payment will be in some way means tested? I expect the lower to middle earners will get thoroughly shafted by this as with so many aspects of State largesse and taxation.
The report goes on:
In an interview with the Guardian, Knight signalled that the government was putting pressure on IT firms to bring down the cost of equipment if internet connections are in effect made compulsory for nearly six million children.I detect that the Government has come up with a plan - sold to them by IT companies, p'raps? - which demands every home to have broadband so some groaning, bloated monstrosity can be implemented. Instead of thinking of ways that do not require universal broadband, or working out some other strategy, the Government just decides to conduct mission creep - more like a mission marathon - and bootstrap this in, conveniently. Indeed, I suspect a great big national IT project forced upon schools is behind all this, a massive database on child records, attitudes, performance, targets etc etc etc. More admin for teachers. Yet more data to get lost. More control over independent schools. The broadband in each home, and with that the need for a computer - and how many sorts will "forget" that they have one already and flog it on eBay? - looks like the tip of a very expensive iceberg, if you ask me, in fact the tip looks bloody expensive as it is!**
The minister chunters:
"Obviously you need to make that affordable, you need to make that universal otherwise you just advantage those who can afford it. To some extent that's the case at the moment, where 50% of homes have got IT broadband, but they are hugely powerful educational tools ... we know from the research evidence the difference that information technology can make.""otherwise you just advantage those"? Jesus wept. No, it is not "obvious" that you need to "make it" universal. The State making it universal is lazy thinking***, Infantilising and Authoritarian. Don't get me wrong, it would be great if it were universal and that all parents would see that broadband for their kids was more important than Sky+. Grief, one trip to MacDonalds a month would pay for broadband. Couple of packs of B&H, even. 4 pints in a pub. A month. If parents are keen as to check up on homework set, I think that £10pcm could be found in all but the most desperate of cases - and then why not via charity - but we know this is not how the government works: they like "entitlement", a client state and dependency. They crave control and power.
Knight said there were "some crunchy negotiations ahead" with the big firms but said the government could in effect procure millions of new customers for them.So those who are paying for the IT, the Taxpayers, are not to chose which company or companies, but the State steps in and awards contracts "on our behalf"? Marvellous. Watch how the power of markets is swept aside and quality of service, rapid roll-out of new technology and low pricing are discarded once a captive market is obtained, a disconnect between those paying and those providing is put in place. Imbeciles! Of course the State is not all stupid - it will have just wedged itself into another niche, an arbiter, a gatekeeper between the purchasers and the providers. With such gatekeeping comes patronage. Corruption is not far away. Maybe it is not imbecilic, but just utterly careless and reckless with our money in pursuit of its aims. As usual.
For sure we all should know by now the State is a USELESS shopper and that new technology comes at a pace that outstrips the painfully slow negotiation mechanisms. What will we see? Old kit at higher prices than new kit? 50:1 or 100:1 contention ratios for this "service" that could hardly be given away? Who knows, but the fact is, as the State buys it, the taxpayers are locked in and must pay under threat of being locked up.
All this so some greasy IT company can win a contract to not deliver an overambitious and potentially invasive yet insecure project who's cost will spiral out of all proportion except to the ego of the commissioning Minister.
And when all is done, something given for free is often not respected.
Over to one side, yet equally poisonous, is the ever lurking
* The State "giving" actually involves taking, often without consent. The State cannot "Give" anything, for it does not have anything of its own to give. All it has at its disposal is tax, which is not given, but taken and assets and authority on loan from the electorate.
** I bet it will not be fully Mac compatible, too, especially if those scumbags at Microsoft or Accenture have their dirty fingernails in the pie.
*** Do the key advantages need a broadband connection and with it a PC? Surely text messages convey the key points? By the time this gets in place, it might be cheaper just to provide it over mobiles. It appears to be a bootstrapping WIBNI fest.