Thursday, 4 February 2010

The perils of pursuing a university degree

Drugs, gambling and golf almost always change a person's behaviour, generally for the worse. I guess that's why drugs are illegal, or at least discouraged, in most countries.
Gambling, well in Singapore's bid to reinvent itself a few Integrated Resorts (aka casinos) have sprouted on the island. In a city where chewing gum requires a doctor's prescription, gambling is a reasonably free pastime.  
A Singaporean does not have to feign illness to enter a casino. She just has to pay Singapore Dollars 100 (USD 70) per entry. The entrance fee is meant to discourage locals from becoming problem gamblers.
In fact, people can voluntarily exclude themselves or close family members by applying for an exclusion order from the National Council on Problem Gambling. In case of doubt, there is a self-administered test, 'Have I Crossed the Line,' to determine whether someone is a problem gambler! The order will prohibit entry to all of Singapore's casinos.
The basic reason for controlling drugs and gambling is to prevent crime. Addicts often indulge in theft, prostitution and other criminal activities to fund their habits.
Golf is an entirely different kettle of fish.  I have seen normally sane people wake up at four in the morning, drive four hours just to hit a little white ball around admittedly pristine green grassy areas. Generally they indulge in such conduct on a holiday and in searing heat!
Holidays and free time revolve around that little white ball. I will bet money that if push comes to shove, most male golfers will give up mistresses (if they have one) before giving up golf.
Not even a Sony Play Station 3 has such a stranglehold over a man!

Nevertheless, drugs, gambling and golf do not have a monopoly on weirdness. It seems students also go to great lengths to complete their studies. I am not talking about pulling all nighters, cheating on exams, or working any number of part-time jobs. Instead, I refer to the sex industry.
A nineteen year old girl in New Zealand desperate to pay for her studies has joined the ranks of the world's oldest profession.
''I am offering my virginity by tender to the highest bidder as long as all personal safety aspects are observed ... This is my decision made with full awareness of the circumstances and possible consequences.''
'Unigirl' raised New Zealand Dollars 45,000 (USD 32,000) for herself; a lot of money for a student. The sum should pay for a number of classes and eventually her degree.
Students are always short of cash. Yet, most university students don't consider prostitution to be the answer. Waitressing or tutoring is generally more common. Maybe that is because until recently it was difficult to place a value on almost anything?
Although nineteen is a young age, it is old enough for a person to decide what is right from wrong. I am not sure if morality is absolute or relative. Ultimately, we make our own choices and live with the consequences.
The internet age has 'democratized' commerce. In a sense, selling oneself is a type of commercial transaction. So is selling kidneys. Once modern technology's auctioning and payment systems are coupled with fervent individualism, then 'contracts' like Unigirl's will become more common.

If Al-Qaeeda and the Taliban raise funds via a PayPal account (talk about embracing modern technology!) then why should we be surprised if 'entrepreneurial' students do the same? One buys bodies for acts of suicide and the other sells her body for sex.
Welcome to 2010.

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