[ExI] German microeconomics hospital novel
thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Mar 30 17:25:11 UTC 2009
Easy economics through the eyes of nurse Helga
by Aurelia End
Sat Mar 28, 11:11 pm ET
BERLIN (AFP) A cheesy love story dripping with kitsch: Doe-eyed
sister Helga falls head over heels for handsome surgeon Robert. It's
not the kind of story you would expect to find in an economics textbook.
"Sister Helga. You maximise my happiness" is German author Thomas
Hoenscheid's latest novel and an eccentric attempt at teaching
struggling students the basics of supply and demand.
The work of fiction has "silky-haired", "long-legged" Helga falling
in love with broad-shouldered Doctor Robert, and being driven to
despair in her tireless mission to conquer his heart.
Helga portrays the traditional smitten bimbo, intrigued by family
secrets, dismayed by risky surgical operations and enchanted by
idyllic strolls in the spring breeze.
But the surgeon of her dreams is not the moral and humane doctor he
appears to be. Instead he is a money-driven businessman, only
interested in maximizing his profits and minimizing costs.
Devastated, Helga plunges into the world of microeconomics in a
desperate attempt to learn what goes on inside his head.
A ginger student casts light on the basics of Marxist ideology, and a
natter in her hair salon spells out the theory behind the mechanism
of price-fixing in a competitive market.
Abandoning her former bubble-headed self, the nurse becomes a
die-hard fan of the free market. A family outing turns into an
"afternoon of Pareto optimality," sending her into a simplified state
of perfect well-being.
Before treating a sick child, she evaluates whether or not to nurse
it to health, concluding that its "depreciation" would be "writedown
on a long-term investment."
Realising that the loss of a child is also the loss of "spezifisches
Beziehungskapital" -- relationship capital -- Helga reassures the
mother that she will recover as soon as she finds something more profitable.
Hoenscheid even ventures into the unexplored terrain of theoretical romance.
"Helga! I love you. Would you like to enter into a long-term
contractual agreement, declaring that we will exchange material and
"All extreme economic theories, like Marxism and the ideal of the
perfect free market, seem ridiculous to me," author Hoenscheid -- an
economics graduate who was "initially slightly left" but later
"became more liberal" -- tells AFP.
"I remember that my university lectures were all rather dull," he
says, adding that his book is targeted chiefly at "students who need
help with their revision."
And despite the kitschy style, the theories are indeed all rather
complex, consisting of difficult mathematical explanations and
Hoenscheid, who finished writing his novel in June, is proud of the
outcome but does have one regret.
"If I would've waited until Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, I could
have added a section about bankers and the financial markets."
Nonetheless, if the story of Helga proves to be a hit, Hoenscheid
promises to launch into his next project.
"A book on macroeconomics" -- financial issues at state-level,
including unemployment, investment, inflation.
Helga, he explains focuses more on microeconomics and the behaviour
of individual stakeholders, like businesses and consumers.
"Perhaps I will make it a police novel, or a country romance set high
up in the idyllic Bavarian Alps," he adds.
Copyright 2009 Agence France Presse.
More information about the extropy-chat