by Rex McGregor, New Zealand

A young activist addresses the United Nations with a plan to change the world.

Character: FERN, a teenage girl

Mr. Secretary-General. Honored delegates. I’d like to say how happy I am to speak to you.

I’d like to. But I’m not feeling it.

What does U.N. stand for? “UnitedNations?” Or “Unfortunately Not?”

I’ll concede you’re all here in the same room. Representing nearly every country in the world. Yay! Look at you. Talk about diverse. So many different ethnicities. Cultures. Clothes. Well, except for the men. Go you! You’re like the poster group for individuality. Each of you proudly celebrating your uniqueness.

But, to me, you’re all the same type. Well-heeled. Compare the shoes you’re wearing with those of most people on the planet. You don’t represent us. You all belong to the one-percent club. Every last one of you. And that’s the reason for the mess we’re in, right there.

I realize you’re only diplomats. You’re not the ones in power. But with all the members of all your governments, it’s the same story. Not one worn-out shoe amongst them.

I came up with a plan to fix this inequity. At the moment, those of you with democracies elect your politicians based on physical location. That might have made sense in the old days, when no one looked beyond their own backyard. But we think globally now. Ultrafast communication has annihilated distance. My proposal was to replace geographical constituencies with economic ones. Stop dividing people up by where they live. And instead, consider how much money they have. That way, the vast majority of seats would be allocated to the poor. The rich would hardly get any.

I know, I know. It wouldn’t work. For one thing, as soon as the down-and-out began earning a politician’s salary, they’d no longer be down or out. What’s more, the current incumbents would hide their wealth in a desperate attempt to cling to power.

So relax. I’ve abandoned that plan. And come up with a better one. Constituencies by age group. Most seats will go to the young. You oldies can scramble for the leftovers.

Hang on. You’re living longer these days. Drat. You might still outnumber us.

I know! We’ll apply weighting, based on life-expectancy. So, for example, a 12-year-old’s vote will count 80 times as much an 80-year-old’s. It’s only fair. We’re the ones with the biggest stake in the future.

This is perfect. You’re welcome to try to beat the system. Go on. Increase your lifespan. Eat healthy. Exercise. Once you lose your jobs, you’ll have plenty of leisure time.

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