Friday, March 25, 2011

A Fruitless Market

Said a husband: "The Lord will not bless me,
Dear wife, with descendants, unless we
Make a deal with a neighbor
The fruit of his labor
To compensate with a success fee."

Many offers came in by the bunch,
And a contract was drawn up at once,
But later said Eve:
"I cannot conceive
Why it hasn't worked out in six months."

So the laws of supply and demand
May not always function as planned,
For sometimes you need,
For a deal to succeed,
More than just the Invisible Hand.    

Via Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution blog comes the story of a couple in Stuttgart, Germany who hit upon a commercial solution to the age-old problem of male infertility.  To compensate for the husband's shortcomings, they elected to pay a neighbor to impregnate the wife.  As with so many forms of economic stimulus however, and despite months of earnest endeavor on the part of the neighbor, the results fell short and there were unintended consequences.  You can read the entire story in a surprising source: the July 27, 1978 issue of Jet magazine.

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