TRADITIONAL SOCIETY IN Papua New Guinea was a ‘throwaway’ culture.
If a house started to fall down or a canoe started to leak the natural thing to do was build a new one.
This attitude is reflected today in peoples’ attitudes to infrastructure.
Rather than maintain what is already there, people are more inclined to simply spend money on a new one.
Westerners find this very frustrating.
A school or an aid post may be built in a community only, a few years’ later, to be found falling down with machinery like pumps and generators having ceased to operate.
In the workplace this is also common, with maintenance a low priority.
It takes acculturation to fix this problem, which takes time.
This attitude helps explain why infrastructure from before independence has fallen into disuse.
Hunters and gatherers in the Australian deserts are similar but to a much greater extent. A desert hunter's total possession might have consisted of a couple of spears and a woomera.
Until a few years ago abandoned near-new Toyota Landcruisers with seized motors were commonplace around outstations and homelands.
Europeans have a much more personal attachment to their stuff', especially prestige stuff like houses and cars, and tend to look after it.
When they look at them they see function but they also see dollars and cents.
Just ask Jared Diamond.