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12 February 2008

Intel ... Outside

Awhile back we spoke of a program called One Laptop Per Child. By all accounts, the premise is a good one. By most accounts, the execution of the program is also a good one. It is a humanitarian undertaking with a benevolent founder and a benevolent mission.

It is precisely what is sounds like too. You donate money to OLPC and they arrange for a laptop to go to the undereducated hands of a child in a developing country (where less than $20 is spent annually to educate each child versus $7500 per child in the US).

Some big brains at MIT, presumably wanting to escape their campus disaster, developed this program and unveiled the first $100 laptop computer. By donating just $200, they guarantee that one of these whizz bang computers will end up in the hands of a deserving youth in some faraway place where they will commence computing, learning, connecting and bettering themselves. You can learn more by searching One Laptop Per Child from the Google Search Bar on this page.

Like all good missions though, there is usually a profiteer there to muck it up. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I like profiteers. Profiteers are capitalists and capitalists make our world work. They give us jobs, make us money and innovate cool stuff. Profit and Capitalism are good. But sometimes there is a difference between Profit and Reward. And some of the schmoes making decisions for big, influential companies skipped that lesson in Humanity School...or perhaps they skipped Humanity School altogether.

Intel is the largest manufacturer of semiconductors in the world with a net income of $7 Billion dollars in 2007. And they were original supporters in the OLPC mission, which was a great fit considering Intel's experience worldwide. That is until OLPC selected a more cost effective microprocessor made by Intel's competitor AMD. So Intel pulled its support from the project and publicly mocked the AMD OLPC laptop as a "gadget". Nice.

Craig Barrett, their Chairman, unabashedly said recently about Intel's self interest, "We're not a charitable organization. We're trying to foster the continued growth of our products".

Oh yeah, Barrett also serves as chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development. That means he is crafting an agenda to develop technology around the world for the UN. How unbiased is he going to be?

Let me say again that I am not a neophyte regarding this type of 'goodwill development'. Nor do I have any illusions about Intel's primary for-profit mission (in fact, I own some of their stock). I have personally and professionally donated plenty of money and goods through the years for toy drives, golf tournaments, 10k's, etc. in order to increase the awareness of my business, etc. But just kick me if I ever get so arrogant and narrow minded that I would withhold or impede a good or service from a worthy cause because I can't suck every last penny of profit from it.

We expect social responsibility from ourselves, our families, our political leaders and our public figures. So is it not reasonable to expect more social responsibility from our corporate citizen's too?


Just a couple more days until we
begin day 1 of our 6 day safari entitled the Mating
Make sure you have a reserved seat by grabbing the
feed of your choice at the "Feed Me" option on the right


L.A. Mama said...

I couldn't agree with you more! We need more corporate compassion...eek I think that is an oxymoron!

Kat Wilder said...

Yes, we should. Shame on you, Intel. Now, go to your room and don't come out until you say you're sorry ...

(That method doesn't work either!)