500 euros to buy a computer…Free!

Last weekend, April 25 and 26, I spoke at the University of Oviedo at a new MBA program in communications and new technologies. During the coffee break on Saturday, I learned something very interesting from Elena, Alfonso, and Igancio, three students from the program. The government of Asturias (one of the states on the Northern coast of Spain) gives 500 Euros to every person between the ages of 18 and 35 as a means of providing them with an educational tool. This includes 350 Euros for the computer and 150 Euros for Internet access. You can read about it here in Spanish on one of the local newspaper sites. Compare this with Mexico and you will see something completely different. Mexico essentially has a system of double taxation where it taxes manufactures, like Dell, when computer parts are made in Mexico. Then it taxes consumers when they buy the computer. The resulting prices, of course, are devastating for computer buyers. Compare the prices on Dell’s US and Mexican web sites. Search for a Dell Inspiron 1525 Notebook on Dell.com.mx and the starting price is $6,999 Pesos (or approximately $636 USD). Then, go over to Dell’s US site, Dell.com, and you will find the same model for $499 USD, or $236 fewer dollars. Which country will have a better educated work force in 10 years?

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