Four days less for every book Brazil’s inmates read, says their Governo Federal. Inmates earn up to 48 days off each year for reading 12 classics or 12 works of philosophy, science, even humor. It’s an effective, creative approach that need not produce voter-ready results to be successful. And why not? ‘Cause we already know that reading is the most basic of human skills, and just being able to understand those seven words could have a Butterfly Effect.
A Butterfly Effect is where a small change at one place in a complex system can have a large effect elsewhere. Though it also happens to work, teaching prison inmates to read is a truly humanitarian gesture requiring no quantifiable numbers or lowered crime stats as a proof that it does: the very act of spreading literacy is like giving sight to the blind. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. our lawmakers can’t sell each other on the promise of a good deed anymore than you or I can poop gold. But so what? That’s no excuse for not helping someone help themselves, or for not helping ’em reach through the razor wire to interpret the world anew.