[FoRK] US defence budget will equal ROW combined "within 12 months"

Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) fork at ianbell.com
Thu May 5 13:12:37 PDT 2005

As a marketer I know that there are two things in this world:

	- Those things that we all /could/ do
	- Those things that we could do, practically

You could trim your lawn with a pair of scissors, but I'm betting you 
won't.  We tend only to do those things that we can do practically.

It's pretty impractical to sell items on eBay if you're not in one of 
the countries serviced by PayPal.  I've bought things overseas and lost 
a lot of money doing it, so my lesson as a buyer (Caveat Emptor) is to 
use PayPal exclusively ... if they won't take my PayPal payment forget 
it.  So a merchant in Botswana sadly does not have access to me and a 
lot of other eBayers.

But moreover, and to the point:  most people in third world countries 
don't even have bank accounts for the love of god, and you want them to 
handle wire transfers, PayPal payments, email, UPS, and such?  Does a 
little brown truck swing through every village in Indonesia every day 
picking up parcels bound for your house?  You're also forgetting the 
small fact that in order to use eBay you need to be able to use a 
computer, and have daily access to one.  You also need to speak one of 
the few languages supported on eBay (though, in truth, it had better be 
English if you want to sell to those rich Americans).

Going through the rigmarole you've described requires time, money, and 
expertise.  Those three (certainly the latter two) are in short supply 
in the third world.  Ebay is great for this in theory and I'm sure it 
gets good press for them, but I don't see it being used practically in 
have-not nations.

The other point I wanted to make is "So what?".

Again you're looking at this from an Amerocentric point of view.  What 
is the real benefit to participating in the global (read:  US) economy 
for an African tribesman?  Shouldn't he be out hunting to feed his 
family, educating his children on the ways of the land, governing the 
village with his peers, or something?  I'm sure he'd rather be.  Once 
he's in the system, whether it's selling on eBay or going to work at 
the local DOW Chemical plant, everything meaningful that he pursued 
within his own society is lost.

You live in a nation founded on the self-determination of peoples and 
yet you choose to stand in judgment of everyone who effectively chooses 
to live a lifestyle that does not contribute to your economy.  These 
people may not have books or cars or computers; they may not understand 
Thoreau or Shakespeare; but they have managed to live on the same land 
for thousands of years without fucking it up with pollution and garbage 
and traffic jams.  They have infinitesimally small suicide, drug abuse, 
and divorce rates (or at least they did until they came into contact 
with us).  And to your "furtherance of knowledge" thesis it is only in 
the last 50 years that we, with our computers and telescopes and armies 
of physicists, have reconfirmed what the Aztecs and Mayans understood 
about the universe at least 1500 years ago.

So yeah, I think they may be on to something.  And even if they are 
not, it is the height of arrogance to think that ours is the only path 
to success for the species, and to impose that upon unwilling peoples 
who are gladly pursuing their own path through life, the universe, and 

Now I'm not selling my Powerbook and moving to Botswana anytime soon.  
But you'd better believe I will work in my own small way to defend the 
way of life of indigenous peoples around the world, so long as it does 
no harm to others.

You live in a nation founded on this principle and yet are oblivious to 
the myriad ways in which those who act on your behalf pursue opposite 


On 5-May-05, at 12:29 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> I thought the article was about eBay, not PayPal.  You can pay in any 
> fashion you want once a sale is made.
> Additionally, there is little reason that someone anywhere in the 
> world couldn't get an account in one of those countries, even if it is 
> by proxy/hire of some kind.  I would be shocked if there wasn't a way 
> to make a credit-card like payment from Swiss or Caribbean accounts.

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