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The Daily Tar Heel

CCI Demonstrates Wasteful Spirit Of American Corporate Culture

This hypothetical situation illustrates how an economy of scarcity works.

You are encouraged to think that there is a limited amount of the product being sold, and therefore you must compete with others to obtain it, thereby depriving someone else from having the product.

Anyone who has taken a lower-level economics course could tell you that. What is not so obvious is how you are manipulated to believe you need that certain product.

When an agreement is made between a supplier and a distributor to allow a monopoly on the product, you are then influenced to believe that this is the only way to obtain the needed object.

The Carolina Computing Initiative program is a perfect example. UNC contracted with IBM to sell only its brand of computers to the incoming first-year students, who are required to buy some kind of computer. The claim UNC made was that IBM had given the University a special deal that you could only take advantage of by ordering through it.

Because of the convenience of the offer and possibly because of the belief that MacIntosh and other computers would not be compatible, more than 70 percent of the first-year students bought through the CCI program.

So many students had problems with one of the models that it was recalled in order to replace a part. IBM was granted a virtual monopoly selling highly priced computers to this school.

But more importantly, the efficacy of the CCI program is being questioned to the extent that there is a possibility it will be discontinued.

I know only one person who is not a computer science major who has had to use her computer in class.

Wasn't the push for more technology usage in the classroom a big reason for the implementation of this program?

The importance of being a knowledgeable shopper cannot be overstated.

When you know what you are purchasing, the reasons you are purchasing it over another comparable product, and what uses you will have for the purchase, not only will you save money, but you will contribute less to the excessive glut of stuff that is unique to the Western world.

Granted, computer are certainly useful for schoolwork and research.

But because they become obsolete in a period sometimes as short as six months, consumers are forced to buy new computers constantly. Then upgraded software is needed.

And the old computer is carted off to the dump or perhaps sold until it becomes too obsolete to be practical, when it is then thrown away.

"But why use old technology when the new is better?" you ask.

First of all, whether our constantly evolving technology has really improved the quality of our lives is debatable, but that's not the argument. Even if IBM wants to turn a continual profit by constantly devaluing the old product in order to sell the new, it doesn't mean that you have to let it dictate how you spend your money. Computers can often be upgraded through a number of new editions. That ancient 1989 Apple model you used to have might have worked perfectly fine with an added memory board and some new software instead of having to be replaced by a brand new CCI laptop that will face the same problem of supersession within a short amount of time.

If you were really eager to buy a new model, why couldn't the computer company offer to take back the old computer to reuse some of the parts?

In the society of the United States it is a mark of status to acquire new things.

The reckless use and destruction of our natural habitat attests to our collective concern for comfort and convenience over the necessity of a maintainable balance.

Mindfulness is one of the most sought-after facets of Buddhism. The adoption of this custom into our culture would be a good start in reckoning with some of the grave problems that face our world.

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If you only realize the vast difference you make every time you buy something, whether it is a bag made by a Guatemalan woman's collective that works against imperialist forces or whether it is a Gap shirt made in Ecuador that enforces economically unsustainable wages and deprives Americans of jobs, then you will make better decisions that support the well-being of the entire world.

Judith Freimark is a freshman international studies major. Reach her at StarryJ81@hotmail.com.

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