Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Beautiful People versus the Ugly People

Can this Theory be applied to South America?
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According to a recent study in human evolution by Doctor Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics ( within 10,000 years the human species will have divided itself into two branches: the Genetic Upper Class (Gracile group) and the Genetic Lower Class (Robust Group). The "Big Bang" for the human race will happen in a thousand years time when science and technology will have evolved to such an extent that an ideal habitat for humans will have been created. Humans will be at least two meters tall (six to seven feet) and have a life span of 120 years. Genetic engineering, cybernetic implants and other technological breakthroughs will create nearly perfect human beings. This process will continue for the next 10,000 years as humans will become more selective when choosing a partner, thus causing the species to divide in two subspecies, one of tall, thin, healthy, attractive, intelligent and creative humans and another of short, less intelligent and ugly human beings.Whether you may agree with Doctor Curry's interesting and revolutionary theory or not, it has some striking similarities to the current situation in South America, where gigantic socio-economic differences have appeared among its citizens. Santiago, the capital of Chile, can be used as an excellent case study, since its reality is not very different from other South American cities. Santiago is clearly divided into two areas, known as the "Beautiful People "(BP) districts that cover approximately one quarter of the total area and the "Ugly People" (UP) districts that cover the remaining area, with some transition spaces in between. The average monthly income of a BP family can range from US$5,000 to US$10,000 or more while that of a UP family is of around US$200 to US$400. A BP family will consist of five individuals living in a spacious house with garden, swimming pool and a garage for 2 to 3 cars. A UP family will usually consist of 8-10 individuals living in a state funded housing project where the houses are paired one next to the other. These houses, nicknamed "Teletubby homes" by their owners (in a comparison to the popular children's TV program) are built of cheap, poor quality materials and whose roofs have been known to leak during the rainy and cold winter months. The State housing projects are usually two-story structures in order to save space and reduce building costs. The BP families have access to vast leisure activities such as parks, shopping centers and sports fields. The UP families live in high-density neighborhoods with poor public transport and far away from BP districts. In the UP districts crime, drug trafficking and consumption is common and at night the citizens are confined to their houses. Children from BP families receive private education at the "The Grange School", St.George´s School or Santiago College where the monthly tuition fee ranges from US$500 upwards. When choosing universities the BP individuals compete for a vacancy at the Catholic University (run by the Roman Catholic Church), the Finis Terrae or Gabriela Mistral Universities where the monthly tuition fees range from US$ 500 to US$1000,(or more depending on the course).Obviously these fees are well beyond an average UP family's budget.
In a BP household it is common for both parents to work, mainly as C.E.Os of big companies, state officials or as liberal professionals, whose responsibility is to supervise the work carried out by the large majority of UP individuals, usually construction workers, farm laborers, miners or office clerks. However, all is not well, since BP families live in constant fear of being robbed by UP individuals and so have fortified their large properties with high garden walls, electric fences, surveillance cameras, armed guards and attack docks. It is becoming common for BP individuals to suffer "Express burglaries" where their homes are invaded by gangs of individuals (mostly from UP districts) armed with guns and knives and that are not precisely very polite. The robbers overpower the BP family members , collect all the valuables and usually drive off in the BPs own cars. Every year, on September 11 ( anniversary of the 1973 military coup against the Allende government) the UP districts have their "Day of Rage" where violent acts and looting occur as youngsters take the opportunity to express all their anger against society. All Chilean governments are constantly publicizing their "anti-poverty" campaigns and showing that public spending figures have increased, but why isn't the majority of the population seeing the effects of these "campaigns"?. Apart from all this, Chile´s supposedly buoyant economic situation has attracted hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants from neighboring countries such as Peru,Argentina,Ecuador and Colombia, that mostly live in worse conditions than the Chilean UPs. Also there doesn't seem much interest on behalf of the current center-left administration to change the situation. Most of the leaders of the government coalition live in the BP neighborhoods and it is not very likely that President Michelle Bachelet will make her daughter go and study at a state school after being at the posh "La Girouette School". Or are you Mrs. Bachelet ?

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