Sep 21, 2019
Imagine a little kingdom with a quaint custom: when a man likes a woman, he offers her a tulip; if she accepts, they are married shortly thereafter. A couple who marries sans tulip is considered to be living in sin; no other form of proposal is appropriate or accepted.
One day, a Dutch trader comes to the little kingdom. He explains that his homeland also has a quaint custom involving tulips: they speculate on them, bidding the price up to stratospheric levels. Why, in the Netherlands, a tulip can go for ten times more than the average worker earns in a year! The trader is pleased to find a new source of bulbs, and offers the people of the kingdom a few guilders per tulip, which they happily accept.
Soon other Dutch traders show up and start a bidding war. The price of tulips goes up, and up, and up; first dozens of guilders, then hundreds. Tulip-growers make a fortune, but everyone else is less pleased. Suitors wishing to give a token of their love find themselves having to invest their entire life savings – with no guarantee that the woman will even say yes! Soon, some of the poorest people are locked out of marriage and family-raising entirely.