Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Ancient Economics: The Great Wife of Lot Debate

This is a repost from a few years ago. It's a transcript of an email conversation between some of my friends and I and, dammit, I'm posting it again because it's still one of the funniest things I've ever read. This is what happens when young professionals educated at a Christian university who have a penchant for bullshit try to look busy in their entry level jobs.

Scotty: Do you think Lot's wife was worth more as a human or as a condiment? Keep in mind the huge popularity of the slave trade and the spice trade during the BCE. Also, assume that the pillar she became was equal in grams to her weight as a human.

Doug: Is salt rendered from a human being considered kosher? Is this a moot point as Lot's wife was transformed by God Himself? Surely her value as salt would go up significantly if both Jews and Gentiles could consume her. Also, and I just thought of this, was she a pillar in grain form? Or, was she just a giant pillar of rock salt? I think the rock salt would be much more valuable but also more difficult to sell. You're really looking at a single buyer in that scenario because not many people would have the shekels to shell out for a wife-sized rock of salt. Either way, surely the novelty of a wife-sized (and shaped) pillar of salt would add a few bits to the price. It's not everyday you see something like that!

Barrett: You guys are morons...hello, this is famous salt. Even at the time everyone had to have been talking about it. You don't sell it for consumption, you sell it as a collector's item. It's not that the shape would add value, it is the fame of the incident. I mean, you don't eat God's salt. Otherwise, he just might eat you.

Chris: Right now a 9 oz. bottle of all natural sea salt will run you about $3. Let's call it $.33/oz. Worst case scenario: You sell this as all natural Dead Sea salt (let's call that a 25% premium) at $.41/oz. You're looking at a 105lbs lady, which is 1680 oz., or almost $700. I think that's about what Barrett pays for a lady these days. Better case scenario: You sell this as God's chosen salt, market it to the Thomas Kincaid crowd, and you get $25/oz., or $42,000. Best case scenario: You lick it until it's gone. That's just my take.

Doug: Today the average yearly inflation of the US dollar is around 3%. In 1864 it was close to 27%. I have no idea what that would translate to in BCE, but let's ballpark it at an average of 10% for, oh, say the last 4,000 years...that's quite a bit more than Chris' $700.00. I'm no math major, but I think that's somewhere around $2,658,673,870,446.40...not including Barrett's fame factor.

Barrett: Ahhh, Doug, clearly you are retarded. You account for inflation (good) whilst (yes, I dropped a 'whilst' on you) forgetting about the degradation of salt. 105 pounds of salt several thousand years ago would not leave you with 105 pounds of salt today, especially not if we're talking about sea salt, which evaporates 12.4% faster than regular salt on average in the area around the Dead Sea, with that percentage rising as high as 15.9% in some areas of the Middle East. So, to an extent, it would depend on the storage facility of the salt and where that facility was located. Also, you have to hire a trustworthy supervisor to secure the premises. Otherwise, you may end up with some crazy bastard like Chris licking up all of your salt and destroying your investment. At least, that's my not-so-humble opinion on it. But for the preceding crazy licker watching the salt, I think you would be best off immediately selling the salt and becoming a shylock.

Scotty: You are all idiots. The real lesson of the situation is that money, being the root of all evil, is not to be worshipped or even sought after in the Face of The Lord. Thus, you spread the salt to the winds without making a cent and start telling people your new philosophy about money, setting the groundwork for an empire of pamphlet sales, public speaking engagements, an internationally televised religious hour, and a lucrative stone-selling business that nets you several hundred million a year by your fifth year of operation. No matter how much you could make off the salt - odd commodity or just plain spice - it would be a one time event at a fixed amount. Swearing it off and convincing others that you're enlightened keeps the green rollin' in year after year. Suckers.

Barrett: Ahhh, Scott...cute. But seriously, men are talking here. Your pamphlets and the stones are going to cost money. Where will you get that money? Simple: From my shylock business where I would charge you 20% interest plus 56% of the profits. It's good to be on top. You have just given away your most valuable possession and, other than my shylockery, you have no way of attaining capital to invest in your grand scheme. So you have a choice to make...make both of us rich or you can actually be poor the rest of your life with no way to get your venture off the ground. And in that case, I will still be rich because I would find some other sap to suck the life (and money) out of. In the fictional world of ancient economics my grandkids and their grandkids would all be taken care of. If present me could go back in time and help out my ancient ancestors, I bet present me would still be living high on the hog from all the wealth I would have accumulated (assuming my time machine could bring me back to the future).

Scotty: And that's when Barrett showed everyone why no one should hire him as a lawyer. I'd be able to pass by your shylockery -as well as the haberdashery - while on one of my Inspirational Walks With the Master (C) (149.99 shekels). Overhead? Zero. That's called pure profit. And from there I'll order some pamphlets. Oh, and I'll order rocks too since they definitely don't just grow on trees.

Money maker?
David: While you idiots are debating the best way to spend your ill-gotten saline wealth, you have all neglected to properly value the Wife of Lot as a sturdy member of the early Judeo slave trade, let alone as a skilled prostitute, especially when one considers that taking into account the well documented custom of taking a child bride, Lot would have likely chosen for his mate a nubile 105 pound teen skank of Sodom. All it would take is a simple online keyword search for "nubile 105 pound teen skank of Sodom" to see that such a skilled girl today would fetch an hourly rate of well over $400.00. See: for documentation. Taking into account the average life expectancy of the era, and the going shekel exchange rate, she'd be able to earn her weight in salt in a single night. Fools.

Brando: Since I'm the first one to reply, I'll take this one guys... *AHEM* Your mom is a nubile 105 pound teen skank of Sodom. Burn.

Rob: Once again, you have all missed the point. One interpretation of the Biblical account of Lot's wife being smote to salt is that it is a metaphor for her inability to reproduce (i.e. salting the fields of your enemies in ancient times). You have no salt to sell, but you may save some money on birth control if you go the prostitution route.

Doug: Ok, I'm back and I have brought myself up to speed on the Great Wife of Lot Debate. I have to say, you're all a bunch of douchebag intellectuals. Firstly, salt doesn't evaporate. Salt water evaporates, but you (and by 'you' I am referring to Barrett) are suggesting that salt somehow sublimates at an amazing rate only in the area around the Dead Sea. Now, while your professional caliber BS may have convinced your fiancee to sleep with you, it cannot convince me that a solid can suddenly turn into a gas under normal climatic conditions. By storing Lot's wife in a relatively dry place (and Christ knows there are a ton of them in that neck of the woods) she should be fairly degradation free and ready for sale years into the 4,000 years into the future. I am willing to concede, however, that having a licker like Chris anywhere around your prized salt is simply bad business. As for the argument that Lot's 105 pound Skank of Sodom would be more valuable plying her trade at $400.00/night, you need a bag on your head. Let us assume that she starts flashing ass for money at the age of 14 at $400.00/night. The average life expectancy of a woman in that era was 30 years old. This gives her 16 working years. For argument's sake, let's assume that she could work every night. That's still only a lifetime earning of $2,336,000.00. That doesn't hold a candle to my $2,658,673,870,446.40 rock of salt, and we're not even considering the days she would lose from getting knocked up (metaphors aside) and not working on the Sabbath, not to mention the fact that her $400.00 price tag would diminish as she crept toward the big 3-0. So much for your nubile ancient world fantasies. Sicko.


K said...

Your Old Testament professor would be so proud of you right now.

Rachel said...

Oh my God, don't any of you have jobs? Or comic book porn to alphabetize?

That said, my two cents: make scented "bath bombs" out of her and sell them at designer cosmetics boutiques at a *much* heftier mark-up, emphasizing the skin-softening effects of Lord-generated sodium scrubs. The irony alone would be worth it.

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