Economics 101, a Novel, ch_43 -- Money, Weather, and Children

(The story starts here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.jp/2016/03/economics-101-novel-ch00.html.

The previous chapter is here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch42-prologue.html.)

Well.

Should this have been a dream?

Should the last three chapters be pure fantasy, seeing as such things really don't happen?

Should Karel wake up to see the tent still standing, and, realizing it was all a dream, scream in agony? Should he run around the tent to comfort Bobby, who is in shock from her sense of loss after waking up from the same dream? Should they climb to the ridge and see Zedidiah's boat? Should they then row out to save him, leading to their parents' finding them?

And thus we could bring my first attempt at a novel to an end, with apologies for reneging on my promise to attempt to demonstrate economic principles in a simple and easily understood manner? Or I could say we had already demonstrated the most important principles.

I think not.

The experiment is finally set up.

We have gone to the trouble of bringing them to the lab, performing some initial calibration experiments, and otherwise preparing for the thought experiments I said we were going to perform. We have eliminated as many of the complicating forces and influences as we can.

It's time to get started for real.



"Karel?" Bobbie stared at the ceiling she could not really see in the dim light.

When they had lashed the window covers in place to keep the rain out, the clouds were glowing faintly from the light of the bright moon they hid.

The vent windows under the eaves transmitted just enough of that light for them to not really be able to see much inside.

She ran her fingers through her husband's hair. Karel was drifting off to sleep with his head resting on her stomach, but he woke back up.

"Yeah?"

"I was just thinking." Bobbie stroked his forehead with her fingertips and ran her little finger down the bridge of his nose. "What are we going to give the kids for allowance money?"

"Huh? Allowance ...?" Karel took Bobbie's hand and squeezed it. "Go to sleep."

"No, I'm serious."

"Where would they use it?"

The question hung in the damp, chill air. Karel caressed Bobbie's leg in the dimness, feeling the texture of the fabric of her pajamas.

"There's no candy store down the street for them to spend it at."

Karel thought for a moment before continuing. "And no basis for setting a value to the money if we had it."

Bobbie laughed. "No street, for them to run in, either." She paused, then, almost randomly, said. "Hah. What do we call street clothes when there is no street to wear them in?"

Karel chuckled. "Day clothes sounds so institutional. Why do you ask?"

"Just appreciating not having to wear our street clothes to bed any more. It's nice to be married."

"Yeah, Jeans are not pajamas."

"Jeans aren't beach wear, either."

"Some people wear jeans to the beach, but, yeah, I know what you mean."

"Everyday clothes has a different meaning, too."

"Close, but not quite the same. I say we just pretend the beach is a street and call what we usually wear street clothes."

"Sounds good. Anyway, I was thinking about sending the children for water and other chores, and then I thought about paying them for the chores ..."

"I see. We'll have to think of something to reward them with. I can help you with making some sort of candy or snacks?"

"When you're not busy working on something else I want you to do, ..."

"Wait a minute." Karel sat up and faced Bobbie.

"... or something you want to do." Bobbie sat up, laughing.

Karel smiled lopsidedly. "So many things to do. I wonder if we'll ever have enough time to bother with a honey-do jar."

Holding hands, they tried to trace each others' faces in the dim light with their eyes. Then Karel reached out and traced the edge of Bobbie's face with his fingers, and Bobbie leaned into his hand.

"Just during the rainy season, I guess," she said.

"This rainy season, the jar seems to already be full with my physiology and obstetrics lessons."

"Yeah."

Karel's hand dropped to Bobbie's stomach, where he traced out some of the organs Bobbie had been explaining to him while they finished the huts.

Bobbie giggled. "That tickles."

"So there's a baby in there."

"I think so. Well, not a baby, but a pre-baby. Zygote, blastomere, morula, blastocyst, embryo. Anyway, it feels like something unusual is going on in there."

"Thinking about how to set our wages for what we are doing now just boggles the mind," he said.

"Oh?"

"All the gold in the world, every day. What you do for me is without price."

Bobbie concurred. "Yes, indeed. And what you do for me." And they stopped to share a hug and a kiss and a few words too sacred to repeat here.

"I guess setting a basis for pay is not going to be meaningful while it's just you and me."

"So you were thinking mercenary thoughts when you started thinking about the kids' allowance?"

"It's just so hard for me to get out of the habit of taking accounts."

For a moment, neither of them said anything.

"Now I'm trying to remember if we ever talked about keeping track of what we owe each other in all the time we've known each other."

"No. One of the reasons I didn't think I dared commit to you is that I knew life with you would never allow me to keep accounts. And I'm not used to that, even after all the Lord has taught me."

There was another pause.

Karel said, "I'm listening."

"Does it worry you?"

"No. I trust us. We'll work this out, too."

"I had suspended the habit while we were still in emergency mode. But now the Lord has made it clear that we should remain here, and He's watching out for us, I've relaxed."

"And the habit wants to come back."

"I guess."

"Well, if you need something to use as a proxy for value, we'll work something out. Probably, it will help with motivating the kids and preparing them to use real money, too."

"Thanks."

"And any time you tell me I'm not working hard enough, I'll just kiss you 'til your eyes cross."

"Promises, promises."

And Toby shut his metaphysical eyes. "Mom! Quit that!"

Tory rolled hers. "Toby, it's part of what they do to invite us to be part of their family. Besides, they're just kissing."

"I don't care. It's gross! Besides, if Mom gets excited, it'll mess things up."

"Will not."

"Will too."



I don't know if you believe that we existed before we were born. Ghosts of dead people seems to be an easier concept to accept, but I'm going to tell you that we do not suddenly burst into existence at some point during the processes between conception and birth.

Seriously. It doesn't make sense. Planets form out of the dust between stars. Our bodies are formed of the dust of the earth. There is no such thing as ex-nihilo creation.

And if the ghosts of our metaphysical existence leave our bodies behind, we must have existed in some form before we were born, to have been able to take those bodies up.



"Karel?"

Karel opened his eyes. "What time is it?"

"How should I know? It seems to be getting lighter outside."

The light of the overcast dawn filtered in through the vent windows.

"I want to sleep some more."

"I had a dream."

"Oh?"

"I think I saw our child, but it was kind of confusing."

"How so?"

"It just was. I couldn't seem to make out the face. It was a little like a double image or something in my mind."

"Okay, I'm awake now. Let's get breakfast." Karel kept his thoughts to himself.

"You don't believe me."

"I believe you, but I'm hungry, and I'm awake now. Exercise first?"

"Of course."

"Is the baby going to be okay?"

"My health is not that delicate."

So they undid the lashings on the door.

"It's still raining pretty hard." Karel stared out at the wind and rain and mud.

"Don't tell me you couldn't hear it."

"No. It's just, ... what do we wear in that?"

"Birthday suits?"

"Mom!" Toby called out, shocked."
"I know there is no one out there to see us, but, ..."

"But what if there is?"

"Yeah."

"Swimming suits."

"I guess we're going to have to figure out how to make clothes, pretty soon, too."

"Yeah."

They changed into their swimsuits and went out to exercise.

Bobbie shivered. "It's a little cold. Wish there were a hot water faucet we could turn on."

"I think they're cute." Tory laughed.

"You are obviously not my sister."

And Tory responded by sticking her metaphysical tongue out at him. And laughing.




For the first week of the rains, they did fairly well.

Bobbie had some books in her trunk that helped with the physiology lessons. When the hut grew too confining, they went around outside in the rain to exercise and let the rain wash them cleaner than they had been in a long time.

When they finished exercising and bathing in the rain, they put on loose clothes to go foraging for food in the rain. They kept towels hung up in the porch, to wipe off most of the water before going back inside.

The wet clothes, they left hanging in the porch with the towels.

Inside they wore their usual clothes to keep warm.
During the rare breaks in the rain, they spent as much time outside as possible, foraging where they couldn't go when it was raining, and packing a little extra away.

On Sunday, Bobbie wondered whether rainy weather might be appropriate for working with fibers, and on Monday they started trying their luck with rain-dampened hemp and jute. And they started cutting bamboo strips to make a near-watertight basket to hold shower water in.

About a week into the rains, the real storms began. So they brought what they had hanging outside in, tied everything in the storage hut down, tied the door and window covers down even more tightly, and hung towels over the vents because the winds were hard enough to blow rain up and in.

As the winds got stronger, the towels would blow loose and flap in the wind, letting some of the rain in, but catching a lot. The noise of the flapping did not bother them because they couldn't hear it over the storm anyway.



Toby was getting worried. "This is going to stress Mom out. I know it is."

Tory was not completely confident about it, either. "I guess we just have to ask for help."

Toby's prayer was direct. "Father! This isn't fair!"

Tory was less indignant. "Father, I'm scared."

But their prayers were enough, and they calmed down and went back to the work they had to do, observing the workings of DNA and division of cells.



Bobbie and Karel were also praying, as the winds increased to full monsoon force. The hut swayed and creaked a bit in the winds.

"Father in Heaven, we've done our best. Please bless us that the hut will hold and our health will be protected. And especially bless Bobbie and the baby that they will be all right."

And Mom and Dad were also able to maintain their own vigils through the storm. Somehow, they were able to get some sleep, taking turns.

During the second day of the monsoon, they heard a crash outside and tried to get a look at the source of the noise through the vent window. A limb of a tree had blown against the storage hut, but they couldn't tell if it had broken through the wall. They did not attempt to go outside to check on it.




At the beginning of the third day, the winds died down and they both fell into a deep sleep, sleeping into the middle of the day. When they woke up, the winds were gone, but the rains continued.

"I'm glad we're not in the tent."

"Me, too. Is it going to be like this every year?"

"We'll have to prepare for it, anyway."

"Should we take a look outside?"

They prayed about that, and not feeling cautioned to remain inside, went outside to check on things. Their huts had held, but there were holes in the outer walls, and the thatching had blown loose in places.

"Lot of work to patch that up, but it sure did what we needed."

"Are we going to build new, stronger huts?"

"We'll have to pray about that. I'm not sure how we can build them stronger. We have a few other things to build, too, like an enclosure where we can shower."

Bobbie looked at Karel with an unreadable expression.

"We have to teach the kids about modesty."

"True. And I guess we really should be ready for the time someone else lands on the island somehow."

"It was fun behaving like a couple of innocents while it lasted."


"Are we going to make it big enough to exercise in the rain?"

"Tough question. Maybe we'll have to build a proper house, with a living room big enough for some basic exercises."

"Do you think the eye of the storm missed us?"

"I guess we'll find out in a few hours."

"Let's go get some exercise."

"There should be enough time."



"Toby, where are you going?"

Toby was not happy. "I'm going to go give Father a piece of my mind."

"Toby. Don't talk like that."

-- It's okay. --

The voice in their metaphysical hearts brought peace to both of them.

Toby was no longer ready to run away. "But, Father, it was hard work."

"It was." Tory agreed with her brother.

-- Of course. --

"But," Toby was not satisfied. "... two eggs descending is such a rare thing."

"First conceptions often auto-abort. And, actually, double descent isn't as rare as people think. It's just hard to keep the two eggs stable long enough after being fertilized."

Tory turned with a start. Toby did not look towards the new voice.

"Who are you?" Tory asked.

"Don't you remember? Your parents have guardian angels. I'm Hanaka."

"But you're an islander."

"She's my friend."

"Who are you?" Toby asked, looking around this time.

"I'm your father's cousin, Wycliffe. Trust Hanaka, she knows what she's talking about."

For a moment in eternity, the four of them just looked at each other. Then Georgiana and Greg came.

"These two will also be your guardian angels." Greg informed them.

"You two have been through an awful lot. You must need some rest." Georgiana held out her metaphysical arms and gathered them in. Spirits have no bodies for their five senses, but being gathered in is still reassuring.

"But now we can't be born together!" wailed Toby.

"Listen to Hanaka," Greg said. "She may be single, but she has helped many mothers on her island."

Tory was biting her metaphysical tongue.

"Tory," Greg said sternly, but kindly, "what are you thinking?"

"But Hanaka is an islander!"

"Before our Father, there are no islanders but our brothers and sisters."

Hanaka held out her arms.

"But she hasn't been baptized!"

"She has done her part and she is just waiting the time that mortals have to wait before the proxy work is done. There is plenty she can do until then."

"But how can she know?"

Toby set aside his shyness and went to Hanaka. "I think you know plenty. Tell me what we can do."

"It's not hard." Hanaka smiled.

Georgiana gave Tory a gentle metaphysical push and Tory found herself surrounded by Hanaka's and Wycliffe's love.

"All blessings are available to the faithful. That's something you have to believe," Wycliffe said.

Hanaka said, "It really is easy. You have permission to choose one of two paths." She stopped. "Well, two paths might be available and you need to be ready to choose between them." And she paused. "Okay?"

"Yes," two spirits said together.

"Your mother's body may let two eggs drop again. It's not completely a matter of probability."

"Okay."

"Or you have the opportunity to be identical twins."

Toby and Tory looked at each other.

"Oh. Well, that could be fun, too," Toby said.

Tory just grinned.

"Are you both willing to accept these paths, now that the first path has closed?"

And they were.



While they exercised, Bobbie felt a little discomfort, but did not say anything. Karel saw the flash of concern on her face, but decided to wait until she decided she could tell him.

After exercising and eating, they continued with Karel's lessons for an hour or so.

"Oh, Karel." Bobbie interrupted herself as she was explaining some detail about internal muscles that may or may not have been relevant. "I lost the baby. I can feel it."

Karel did not reply, just reached around her shoulders and held her tight.

After a little time of just holding each other, Karel kissed Bobbie.

"I think it's time to set the physiology lessons aside for a while."

"Mmm."

"Let me teach you some mathematics and physics."

"Why?"

"It'll be a distraction while we wait for your body to recover."





The rains continued steady for another two days, then intermittent for another week. While they were inside waiting out the rain, they traded lessons, studying physiology, physics, math, and nutrition together.

When the rains stopped, they collected fallen bamboo and built a privacy enclosure twelve feet on a side, where they could exercise and bathe without worrying whether there were other people around.

Outside one corner, they built a stand for the shower water basket. The basket leaked a little, but it held enough water for a three-minute shower. Carrying the water for one shower from the streams required both of them, but washing the salt away every now and then seemed to help their skin and their general health.

And Bobbie's period this time was hard enough that she knew that she had been pregnant, but not as hard as the first time on the island.




Oh.

This is a thought experiment. That means I should assign you some problems to solve.

Here you are:

  1. We've talked about money being a proxy for value, and Karel and Bobbie both admit that it is not a very good proxy. This is pretty much given.
    1. In what circumstances, and under what conditions can money be a reasonable proxy for value?
    2. Name some better proxies for value, and the circumstances and conditions in which they function acceptably as proxy for value.
  2. We've noticed that the value of clothing is relative.
    Are there circumstances under which the actual -- not apparent or stated, but actual -- value of clothing is zero or less?
  3. At the time I write this, expected value is large topic in economics.
    Is this experiment appropriate for discussing expected value?
    1. If so, use it to compare expected value with real value.
    2. If not give at least two reasons why it isn't. 
That should be enough to keep you busy for at least a half an hour.

Submit your answers to the head office in your prayers tonight.

(The link to the next chapter will be here when it is ready. In the meantime, the excuses for the delay can be found here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.jp/2017/04/whats-happening-with-economics-101-and.html.)

(The chapter index is here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.jp/2016/04/economics-101-novel-index.html)

(Backup is found here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/12/backup-jmr20170417-economics-101-novel-ch43.html.)

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