Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not their fault they're out of touch

Brazil has, according to our economics professor, the most concentrated wealth in the world. Followed by Sierra Leone and Burundi. Or Rwanda. I can’t remember now.

She drew a big triangle on the white board and crossed off just the tip of the drawing.

-This is the top 10%. What is the minimum salary that will put a Brazilian in the 10% richest in the country?

A colleague and I responded together R$3000 (per month). I thought it was perhaps a bit high, maybe more around the R$2000 mark. Other classmates scoffed.

-Come on. Three thousand? No way. That’s so low!

(It’s almost twice what I make per month…)

-Fifteen thousand.

-Fifty thousand…

The professor cut off the conversation and drew a line on the other side of the triangle.

-Are you ready to know what it really is? R$ 600.

Shock waves rippled through the classroom. They’re not even sure if someone can live on R$600, not really. You can see it in their eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class, from the professor’s absent minded comments to her sitting cross-legged on the chair, unabashedly explaining that we will have to have a smoke break, at the very least, because she loves her Marlboros. She tells us we look like calves in a field, with these big moon eyes. Each student is addressed by their clothing or dominant feature:

-Pistachio…Black coat there…Blondie next to Blue Shirt...hey Glasses, what do you think?

To me:
-So what's your name? Jina, Jeny, Dena? You're Italian?
-No, American.
-Really? You sure?
There is laughter...

For the rest of the class, I become the Phd. in Cat Whiskers. Don't ask. I couldn't explain it if I tried!

Sorry, Dad, but I have a feeling this economics course is going to be substantially more interesting than the one you made me take when I was 13. Just have this instinct...

No comments: