interesting article

June 14th, 2008

I’m kinda tired and run-down and…. in need of a holiday. Fortunately, I’ve finished classes for this semester and only have an exam next Friday (which is also residence permit pick-up day) a huge pile of marking, and various other end-of-semester and recruitment and foreign teacher management and other random bits and pieces to do. So, yeah, holiday…. Can’t come quickly enough.

Anyway, I’m not up for writing terribly much, haven’t been for a while now, but now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (most likely a train racing towards me), ideas have started returning.

Anyway, all that will have to wait. For now, and the reason for the title, here’s an interesting article on The wealthy should live alongside the poor. It riffs off a Wen Wei Po article, and looks at the growing divide- physical as well as financial- between rich and poor in Beijing and the effects of this ever-increasing gap, and argues that, as the title suggests, rich and poor should live alongside each other:

Previously the poor and the rich lived together in harmony in the same communities, and would occupy the same hutong, only yards from each other. Close to the houses of the wealthy were crude doors behind which lived the least well-off. In these huddles of houses people gathered from different circles and different social levels – those who made their living selling small goods alongside teachers from middle school. Living in the same area retained a lower profile for the rich, protected the poor from embarrassment, and preserved the dignity of those who owned nothing but a bed, said the Wen Wei Po article.

Nice idea, but in basically every city around the world there is a physical as well as financial separation between social classes.  I would suggest that perhaps a more lasting solution would be building a more equal society in which wealth is distributed more evenly and everybody has at the very least access to adequate food, healthcare and education. There will always be rich and poor in every society, sure, but lifting the living standards of the lower levels of society would probably do more to relieve the pressures the article mentions than having the poor watch their rich neighbours driving their Audis off to work each morning while they climb on their battered, 50-year-old bicycle inherited from granddad.

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