Friday, May 14, 2010

Economics for the Average and Ugly

Reporting from the front lines of everywhere puts me in tough spots on a regular basis, but this particular story made me very uneasy. Some huckle-chuck at Paleo Headquarters thought it would be funny to send me off to some fictitious high-brow convention of good-looking tall people scheduled to discuss newly discovered reasons for their political, economic, and cultural dominance. Were I to have realized this before getting on the train, I would have rejected this imaginary mission outright. But here I am, choking to death on Clive Christian No. 1 in the midst of the Vicodin nation's Anglo-American wonderkids swapping stories about squash, sex and stocks.

The next six hours of my so-called life were particularly cumbersome. Gregory N. Price, an economist at Morehouse College, spoke of how many economists and politicians have begun to see a correlation between anatomy and financial success. Price had been involved with a study that found that every additional inch an individual may have over his or her associates may very well result in a two percent increase in personal earnings.

This segment was followed up by a strategy session for stallions wishing to further monopolize the market. "Recruiting Ugly People" was of particular interest to those in attendance. The data seemed to indicate that those beat senseless with the Ugly Stick made nine percent less, on average, than average people, and nearly 14 percent less than long-legged lounge cougars. This was succeeded by straight-talk about the benefits of teenage bulimia, with charts slapped together by Erdal Tekin, an economist at Georgia State University. Tekin pointed out that a national survey of 15,000 high school students spanning from 1994 to 2002 found that "ugly kids" embodied sure recipes for social disaster, being far more likely to be average in every way. The fallback here was a poll that seemed to indicate that the vertically and gravitationally challenged children were more likely to commit crimes, or to at least to get caught in the act. Try though they may, and they most certainly do try, the overly unfortunate common man will have to make do with promises from those both naturally and socially determined for success insisting that all it takes for the average soul to succeed is time, effort and a little magic... or a nonexistent reset button for their all-too-average existence.

Everything concluded as fast as it began, with the attendees racing to the door as they would were someone to yell "fat girl" in the country club bathhouse. There I stood, alone. As I picked up a balloon with the words of New York Time's cultural reporter Patricia "This isn't really 10th century social Darwinism" Cohen written on it, I couldn't help but to wonder how I fit in to this picture? Short, fat, and average looking at best. Were the statisticians and economists present at the convention correct, then I was destined for a life of moderately blissful mediocrity.

Then, like lightning out of clear skies, it hit me! I'm normal. This was neither a bust nor a boon, it just was.

The more I began considering the rubber-hitting-the-road application of all I'd heard at the convention, the more apparent it became that those in attendance were (and continue to be) bona fide weirdos, all birthright members of some cockamamie class cult! I mean, think about it. Should we freak out over the fact that the "better looking" make, on average, two percent more than the majority of people? Would I, as a parent of four, tell my sons or my daughters that their academic struggles may be on account of their looking "average" or their being the fruit of a mother and father with a median height of 5 foot 5 inches? And what if my children should ever find themselves in trouble, heaven forbid? Should I blast into them for their being all-too-plain and not-so-tall? Seriously, these people must have been high out of their minds, drunk with self-aggrandizement, or both!

In the end, while life may not be perfect for the marginalized majority, it sure as hell beats being a card-carrying member of the Cool Kids Club... whatever that is.

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At 6:31 PM , Blogger kkollwitz said...

Only the clueless elites of the postmodern West could regard the fact that the physically attractive have an advantage over the rest of us as news.

Did these morons never read a fairy tale?

At 8:18 PM , Blogger kkollwitz said...

I'm reminded of this shortstory I must have read 40 years ago:

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