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September 2011

We’re Compensating You for That Face

Readers may recall the comical Marxist Bea Campbell and her urge to see the population being enlisted by an egalitarian state, in which “emancipating governance” would be based, rather curiously, on greater state control. Ms Campbell’s other convictions include a belief that Erich Honecker was more “progressive” than David Cameron, and that families and civil society are, everywhere, “riven by power, patriarchy, conflict and the unequal distribution of resources and respect.” To which, less than seriously, I added: 

It isn’t clear how one might ensure that “respect” is distributed in an egalitarian fashion. Perhaps the same approach could be applied to other inequities in life – fashion sense, talent or the possession of pleasing features.

Well. Here’s a lesson for us all. Don’t joke about these things.

Herb Deutsch steers us to the New York Times, where Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh has unearthed a shocking truth:

Being good-looking is useful in so many ways. In addition to whatever personal pleasure it gives you, being attractive also helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse… and get better deals on mortgages.

Naturally, he asks:

How could we remedy this injustice?

A “radical solution” is proposed, albeit of a kind that crops up remarkably often:

Why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals? We actually already do offer such protections in a few places, including in some jurisdictions in California, and in the District of Columbia, where discriminatory treatment based on looks in hiring, promotions, housing and other areas is prohibited… We could even have affirmative-action programmes for the ugly.

Good luck marketing that. “Excuse me, madam. Has anyone told you that you bear a striking resemblance to a fire-damaged troll and may have special needs? Step this way…” Oh, come on. Who wouldn’t want to be regarded as officially ugly? Imagine the compensation claims by failed, overweight actors with dodgy teeth and leather-faced strippers with asymmetrical breasts. Perhaps we should all apply for a job as the new face of Cosmetics Company X, then cry discrimination and threaten law suits when politely shown the door. It could be a lucrative hustle. And what about the short, the overly tall, the inarticulate or the shy? Do we draw a line somewhere, or do we go on indefinitely, compensating all possible categories of human imperfection?

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