Workers of the World, Exfoliate

Much attention has been paid of late to whether the United States is trending toward socialism. Alleviating socioeconomic differences through the federal government's active intervention in the economy is a common aim of all socialist movements. Nonetheless, most champions of the less privileged have never made a practical effort to mitigate the social differences caused by the inequitable distribution of what, nowadays, is a factor with an enormous socioeconomic impact: beauty.

It is unacceptable for physical attractiveness to be the birthright of a very small proportion of the population -- I estimate 10 percent worldwide at most -- when the vast majority of us must go though life looking, shall we say, anti-aesthetic. For this reason, I suggest the civilized nations of the world consider incorporating a few policies based on the most traditional economic principles of socialism:

First, political constitutions should define beauty as a "strategic natural resource." They should state that citizens may not be discriminated against on the basis of their physical attractiveness and that the protection of ugly people and their integration into society should be an unalienable duty of governments.

To that end, governments should nationalize beauty industries in order to ensure the supply of low-priced makeup, anti-wrinkle creams, aesthetic plastic surgery, etc. This would help to improve people's appearance, thus reducing the differences between the beauty icons and the common people. This would have a significant cost, which, according to a clear principle of solidarity, should be financed through a tax on the beautiful people in each country.

By law, companies should be obliged to guarantee minimum employment quotas for less attractive people, especially in the movie industry, television, modeling and beauty pageants. Such affirmative action would help compensate for so many years of hateful discrimination based on looks.

The importation of "models" from countries with a high proportion of attractive people should be prohibited. This practice has provided an unfair competitive edge within the global beauty industry, and the asymmetrical competition displaces local specimens from sources of employment. Hence, in a clear exercise of their sovereignty, countries with an abundance of ugly people should include the necessary safeguards in their free-trade agreements.

Finally, it would be important to hunt down and punish those people who discriminate against ugly people. For example, the doormen at fashionable clubs cannot continue to mercilessly make decisions about who gets in based only on physical attractiveness. Such discrimination should lead to jail time and fines for the club owners and their bouncers, who would immediately be replaced by visually impaired government officials.

This project would surely face enormous opposition from defenders of economic liberalism and globalization. However, in light of its inherent fairness, it should be undertaken as an imperative proposition by any socialist who yearns for a government that will protect and promote the world's large and relegated majorities of ugly men and women.

Sebastián Hurtado Pérez, an economist living in Quito, Ecuador.