Thursday, April 22, 2010

Erotic Capital and Karmic Debts

One of the main focuses of Broke is Beautiful is suggesting different ways to look at familiar ideas like "being broke," "capital" and "debt." I suggest measuring how "broke" you are not in terms of financial capital, but in terms of social capital-- the resources you have in terms of social connections, community, family and friends.

A couple of articles came across my radar today (via Twitter) that offer unique takes on capital and debt. The first from ResPublica offers hope to the truly "broke and beautiful" among us. (Although it might add insult to injury for those of us who are a bit less than model-esque.) The article "Liberalism and Erotic Capital" discusses the link between sexual attractiveness and earning power. If you're in debt, perhaps you can blame it on your oversized nose or wildly crooked teeth.

Good-looking people can earn up to 13% more than average-looking people. The most attractive lawyers are 20% more likely to achieve partnership in their firm. Research shows that teachers invest more time in cute children. Prettier girls are more likely to be married and live in higher income households. Last year, a study found that attractiveness has a roughly equal effect as qualifications on earnings
I've heard these kinds of statistics before and I'm not entirely sure what to do with the information. Are you? Ryan Shorthouse, the article's author offers some not-too-practical ideas for leveling the playing field. I haven't come up with any better ones myself, but it does sound like a boon for the cosmetics industry.

The second article for your consideration is "Facing Down Business Debt" from the blog Heart of Business. Mark (he's a first name kind of guy) takes a spiritual approach to the whole concept of debt. He suggests seeing debt not as an aberrant obligation but as the natural state of life in our interdependent web of existence. Here are some excerpts:

Debt had become an angry monster, snapping up every scrap of money coming in. Because the debt monster was running her business, it was like having an evil vacuum cleaner connected to her clients. It didn’t feel good to them, or to her, and things were spiraling down...

Here’s what Sufism has to say about debt: we humans are born with debt. Instead of “original sin” think “original debt.” The Divine gave us life and existence, and for that we owe...

The intense weight and power that debt is given in our society creates prisons that keep us from our creativity and resourcefulness. This can bring up resentment, and we can end up feeling angry or scared about any obligation to anyone. What a bind this puts us in. How can you live a fulfilling life or have a successful business without a healthy interdependent give and take from people and resources around?

Instead of rebelling against obligation, I’m suggesting you lean into the sense of healthy obligation that is available. Pay your debts in order: First to the Divine, then to yourself and loved ones, and finally to other obligations. I bet you find yourself surprised by the results.