Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Of a reason why I can’t afford a marriage

When it comes to economics, I’m more at lost than Ms. Sawant is in elegance. What I know about the subject are some simple facts. Like it’s stupid to pay a bottle’s price for an ounce of drink in a pub. Or, that you can’t buy something when you can’t afford it. Complex things like why a credit card is being offered only when you have more than enough debit, flies fast over my head. And I am very well amused when I hear or read about funny amateur theories of economics.

Since the day my country got a crush on global economic development and started embracing so-called progressive liberal economic policies; amateur economic experts have been spawning up here and there. Almost every one who has more money than enough to make the ends to meet became a self-proclaimed authority in economics. Just like almost every literate belongs to proletariat assume of being a profound communist thinker in Kerala.

It was one report about a assembly discussion happened in Kerala, and a self-proclaimed freakenomist’s comment on it that provoked me to think of my ignorance in economics now. I was entertained by the same economist’s observation that increasing prices actually helps to fight and to a certain extend eliminate individual greed, on one earlier occasion, and had mentioned it in my last post.

The Kerala Assembly recently had got together to condemn ostentatious weddings in the state and came out with suggestions to curb wedding expenses. The leftist state government believes it should intervene to curb extravagance in marriages, wants to come out with a law to limit marriage expenses. The opposition is too in favour of this, but not the above-mentioned economist. This very funny economist states that the motivation for such a move is pure jealousy than sensible economics. Sensible, arguably, is the funniest adjective that I know of, and it can make almost every noun look oxymoronic.

The theory presented is not new, but the same ghost of the ugly liberalisation fairy. If the state promotes lavish weddings instead, it will pump more money into the economy, and will provide employment to related industries. It sure does pump money into the economy, but pumps from where? And why does this economist call it stupid populism when it actually cuts down employment of economically lower classes? Just another accidental paradox? Or the legendary lack of human insight natural to people who are too comfortable in their chairs?

A middle class wedding in Kerala is not as extravagant as the adjective suggests. It doesn’t last for a week, but only a few hours; and it costs only about Rs. 1-5 lakhs. And this amount is only a part of the expenses for the bride’s family, irrespective of cast or religion. In Hindu communities, the bride’s family organises the wedding; in other communities, the dowry is handed over in advance. And the expenses for the marriage ceremony is a percentage proportional to the dowry offered.

There of course are laws against dowry; and it has been surpassed by the legitimate will of the parent to ‘gift’. If the government comes up with another law to put restrictions on wedding expenses, that too might be surpassed with some other logic. But that doesn’t mean the government should encourage it, if it can’t eliminate it. And if the law is enforced, it’ll be easier for the parents to ‘marry off’ their daughters, but could be bad on banks and in turn, the thriving economy.

Now it triggers the freakenomist hormones in me. If the government brings up a law to make it mandatory that every wedding should be lavish for the noble purpose of pumping more money into the economy, there would be lesser marriages arranged and excecuted by parents in the state. That may not help the economy much, but might force people think a little more sensibly, and humanly, when it comes to a marriage. But then that is not populism or sensible economics. And therefore won’t be having any takers.

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