Jack Fleming

February 23, 2005

Econ 12

Extra Credit

The Taming of the Lump Sum Dowry

            The year is 1589; the place a little town in Northern Wambash called Monoville and in the town lived a wealthy merchant named Joe Schizmansky, who was the only seller of horses.  Joe is a kind hearted man who believes that the price of a product should be the same amount that it costs to make one more unit of it.  So when Joe sells a horse he charges a price that will cover the expense of raising one more. 

            Now then Joe has two beautiful daughters, Katerina and Bianca Schizmansky.  Katerina is 22 and Bianca 20, and Joe decides that it is time that they marry and start their own families.  Bianca is delighted with the prospect that she will finally be able to marry the man of her dreams, whoever that might be.  She images him to handsome and daring, rich and suave, intelligent and competitive.  Katerina on the other hand is utterly opposed to be married and swears that she will be so horrible to anyone that her father chooses that no one will want to marry her.  So Joe is thinking to himself what can he possibly do so that both his daughters are married, and that Bianca gets her Knight in Shining armor, and Katerina gets a man that likes dangerous women.

            Well, one day, while he is riding out on his land, Joe has an idea for the best way to satisfy his desire for the girls to be married and to ensure that both get what they deserve.  His idea is that for Katerina he will offer a one time lump sum dowry to the man that can get Katerina to fall in love with him and marry him.  As for Bianca, since she has many specific attributes in mind, Joe will go to the neighboring town of Atomistic Town and spread posts advertisements with a picture of Bianca, information about the qualities that Bianca is looking for in a man and then instructions to inquire at Joe’s ranch if interested.  Then Bianca will get the man she wants, and the man that wants her the most, and that fits her criteria the best will be willing to accept less of a dowry, so Joe can make Katerina’s even larger and hopefully attract a daring young man that is looking to make an investment with the potential for high returns.

            So the next day Joe goes out and posts advertisements for husbands for his two daughters, in the town squares of both Monoville and Atomistic Town.  Now the men of Monoville and Atomistic Town know all about the two Schizmansky girls.  They know that Katerina is a spinster like hag who is opinionated and a male hater, but that Bianca is the sweetest of sweet angels.  Well it was not too long before there was a huge queue of suitors outside the Schizmansky ranch all waiting to offer their hand in marriage to Bianca, and only Bianca.

            So it looked as if Katerina would get her way and not have to marry.  Well there happen to be a foreign visiting Monoville that day, and knew not of the reputation of the two Schizmansky sisters.  His name was Sir Nicholas, Count of Duopoly, a neighboring Province to Wambash.  Now Sir Nicholas was in a bit of a bind for in a recent financial venture with a fellow Lord, in which the two agreed that they would try to make some extra money by only selling each others goods and no others in their markets.  Well things were going swimmingly for Sir Nicholas, because he was getting a better than market price for peaches because he and the fellow Lord were not allowing anyone else to sell them.  Then one day, his associate decided that he could do better by not colluding with Sir Nicholas, and instead by opening his town’s market to peaches from another estate so that he could get more peaches for less, and he really liked peaches.  So because Sir Nicholas had been lazy about finding more efficient ways of producing peaches, the new lower price meant that he lost a ton of money, and was facing foreclosure on his Castle by the Bank of Duopoly.

            So with all this in mind, when Sir Nicholas saw that Joe was offering a huge lump sum dowry for his daughter, Sir Nicholas jumped for joy, because the dowry was just a bit larger than the debt he owed on his Castle.  So Nicholas ran to the Schizmansky ranch and immediately offered his hand in marriage to Katerina.  Upon hearing this Joe was ecstatic and declared that preparations for the wedding begin.

            Meanwhile, Bianca too was excited because she had found the man of her dreams.  After a grueling day and several rounds of elimination she had finally narrowed her choice down to two men, Nicolo Machiavelli and Adam Smith.  But Bianca could not decide which of the two she should marry, and so she asked them each the same question and decided that their answer would be what determined who she would marry.  Her question was “How should a man seek to rule over his wife?”  First she posed to question to Machiavelli whose answer was that it is better to be feared than loved, and so a man should rule over his wife with an iron fist, not allowing her to do anything without permission.  Bianca did not like this answer, for though she was not quite as spirited as Katerina, she still believed that a person to should be able to make her own decisions.  Therefore with this in mind she asked Adam, and his reply was that a husband should allow his wife to make her own decisions, and that his decisions and hers would be guided by an invisible hand of love that would bring them together in compromise.  Upon hearing this, Bianca rejoiced for she had found her true love.  Her father was pleased with himself for finding such an efficient way to secure his daughters happiness.

            The moral of the story is that it is better to let people make their own mistakes, rather than having an authoritative power dictating what is good and bad.