Sunday, September 26, 2010

One Wife, Two Wife, Three Wife, Four Wife?

Today I did something I never do. I clicked one of the "trending now" topics on my Yahoo homepage. It said "TLC Sister Wives," and I was hooked.

See, TLC has some crazy shows. "Sister Wives" sounded like it would either be about polygamy, incest, or polygamous incest, so I figured finding out more would be worth it.
The article linked me to a mildly snarky article about the show, which features one man, his three wives, and their twelve children.

Apparently they have a nice little subculture going. Fondly referred to as "plig" culture, they operate fairly normal lives, excepting of course that their children go to plig school, they live in a plig community, and out of all the monosyllabic sounds in English, they picked "plig." The article painted the show in a fairly complimentary light, saying it was good TV but wasn't trying to set an agenda. It also mentioned that the man is smitten with a potential fourth wife, a divorcee with three kids.

While the article focused on how the wives and twelve kids felt about this potential new development, I was really alarmed. Putting all the cringe-inducing details above aside, I realized that polygamists don't understand (among other things) economics.

In economics, there's a principle called the law of diminishing marginal utility. If you put a box of donuts in front of someone with Homer-Simpson-esque qualities, they'll be thrilled to eat the first donut. Probable still pretty happy with the second, by the third they're slowing down. After awhile, not only does another donut not sound very good, it may even sound awful. This illustrates the law of diminishing marginal utility - the idea that for every unit you consume, the satisfaction from that unit alone (NOT the total satisfaction) is lower for every unit consumed. In the case of donuts, the second one isn't as good as the first, and the third isn't as good as the second. In the case of wives, each wife is less satisfying.

Not only is each woman less satisfying, but the cost is higher. With one wife, there's a birthday, an anniversary, some kids, a house, clothes, food, etc. With two wives, you're doubling the birthdays and anniversaries, clothes and food, and possibly the kids and square footage as well. By the time you're looking for wife #4, chances are you've just started bringing home flowers and cake every day so that in case a birthday/anniversary/holiday snuck up on you, you could play it cool. Not only is each wife a little less enjoyable, she costs exponentially more. See, ethics aside, polygamy simply doesn't make sense - wives two and three just aren't as wonderful as the first one. I'm not exactly sure how many wives are standard in plig culture, but I think it's far too many for one man's calendar.

I was shocked to learn about this in:
Grayish pencil skirt, black cami, white, gray, and brown leopard-print cardigan, black belt, abalone shell earrings, turquoise flower cuff bracelet, and brown tweed almost-ankle-booties-but-better stilettos.

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