I'm really interested in your source that says a wood burning stove is as bad as smoking a pack per day. I'm not saying you are lying, its just an awfully large claim to make without a source.
Although I sympathize with you on your original student loan situation I can help but think it was a poor move to take on loans and more schooling costs when you knew you would not have enough to live on and your school had to inform you of a government program that could help you through the consequences. I know what it's like to be tight on money, been there done that, but when I was faced with "spend money on a risky investment with the option for high reward that has an immediate consequence of not having the money to live and waiting a little longer so as to save up enough capital to actually afford my risk and live," I do my absolute best to save. I cut back on fun things knowing that later it will pay off. Granted, I don't know the details o your situation in any greater detail than you posted and I cannot truely understand your situation but I do know that it is human instinkt to set up a history that serves ones interest. In this case I would say that the interest is "sympathy for your low income and the results it has on your ability to afford the basics." You would have achived the above goal had you not willingly put yourself on such a tight position that you should have been aware of before taking on additional expenses. You knew you would not have the money to live a basic life I you took those loans, yet you did, now you rely on food stamps. If you didn't know you would be in such a tight budget you lack the foresight you will need in the future and I pity the fool.
Well you are more than welcome I come to my house, have dinner either me, and get to know me. As you leave I will then tell you the story on how I turned down a promotion that would send me home with a higher "income" but pushed me up a tax level that would actually send me home with about $2,000 less every year.
My wife's school, in Idaho, has been acquiring laptops and iPads for students use for a few years now. They are about to purchase many more iPads because of grant money to eliminate physical text books. For her school it is much cheaper to go to iPads than it is to buy textbooks. Not only do they get current editions constantly they don't have to replace lost or damaged books. They have brokered deals with publishers that assure them current additions for school wide use at a lesser cost than the physical textbooks. Your main argument is the maintaining of the laptops as being a high cost is actually a very weak one when using my wife's school as an example. They have had 2 laptops in the last 3 years that have needed repairs outside of warranty and both times the student was responsible for the cost. The school worked out a deal with Apple to provide them exceptional warranty coverage and modern hardware at a good price, one good enough that I would do it for personal use. The cost of obtaining computers for students has started to drop significantly since iPads (and i would assume other tablets as well) are becoming so convenient and usable. The lease cost, warranty coverage cost, and licensing cost of digital textbooks has been much lower than they originally thought. Their alternative was to pay ~$210 per text book per student, for each of their 4 core classes or ~$500 per student for the iPad lease and digital textbook upfront cost and then a ~$50 per student subsequent years for current editions and extending the lease.
Husband of an Idaho teacher. Not specifically an attempt to destroy the unions but was designed to take some of their power away. Lay off teachers? Doubtful. A way of rewarding for doing well? Yes, we received a $3,500 bonus from the pay for performance. How? She is a younger teacher that embraced technology and even with it being her first year she had a higher average GPA in her classes than the others, her class' test scores were higher, and in the math competitions students from her classes dominated their divisions, even stomped other students from the same school. Overall her students enjoyed math more than the other classes in her school. She has been using Khan Academy as supplementary material in her classes and her school already has 1 macbook for every 4 students and will soon be purchasing many more iPads because of a grant she submitted for. They have paid for much of their technology through donations or grants and are on the verge of getting rid of physical text books because of what my wife has shown. People get scared of new things, its a habit of humanity, why not embrace the changes and enjoy them?
Did you even read the article? I know, I know, blasphemy.....
When the company was getting rid of one of our production trucks we donated it to a mass communications department apart of a private university in Idaho. They were very willing to take the hardware because of their low budget. I know it's not an open source project or computers that we donated but I'm sure they, or other departments like them, would be more than willing to just have the hardware.