Republic of Shalampax
An Inane Island in an Insane World
 

Economy

It is an interesting, but totally irrelevant fact that, before 1963, even in our most prosperous of years, the entire annual GDP of the Republic of Shalampax would have been barely sufficient to buy a corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie Deli in New York. And we're not talking about the one with extra meat. A side order of fries or a soft drink to wash it down would have been out of the question. That wasn't a huge problem because, in those days, nobody had the means to leave our island to go anywhere, let alone New York.

Back then, pretty much all we did was gather coconuts and go fishing in canoes that can be launched and return to shore only at low tide. When we say that we gathered coconuts and fished, obviously we don't mean that any one Shalampaxian did both simultaneously. Those two activities were performed either at different times or by different people. But you probably figured that out. Never mind.

The reason why we can't launch or beach our canoes at high tide is that our island is surrounded by a ring of very jagged rocks and our seas are always extremely rough. At high tide the sharp tips of the rocks lie only slightly below the ocean surface and would surely rip apart the sturdiest of canoes. At low tide we can portage our canoes between the rocks to a point beyond the treacherous rock ring, where it is relatively (relative to the local high tide conditions, not relative to the normal situation at most times in most of the rest of the world) safe to enter and leave the water.

Since 1963, our GDP has mushroomed beyond all belief to a level where, on a per capita basis, ours is now the richest country in the world. The average annual income of our citizens is $157.5 million. The base for this average includes not just adults, but also infants, toddlers, preschoolers and teenagers. The population number that we used in our calculation did omit one raving lunatic who, while never leaving his room, screams incessantly at the top of his lungs about the great and glorious benefits of communism, but that omission doesn't throw the numbers off much.

The driving force behind the turn in our fortunes was our discovery of the fact that there is big money to be made from creating and maintaining cults. This breakthrough came about as a result of our reading tabloid "newspapers" from around the world. We then realized that people would believe anything as long as you put it in a sensational enough context, used sufficiently shocking words and shouted loudly (or the print equivalent). Satellite technology and e-commerce has allowed us to propagate and sustain our cults without ever leaving our island. Now, 60% of our GDP is derived from these activities.

Seeing how easy it was to convince people to join cults, we decided to leverage human gullibility yet further. Consequently, we now also produce horoscopes. This is not as lucrative as cults because people are more reluctant to turn over their life savings to buy a horoscope than to buy eternal salvation from a living, humanlike deity or from someone who speaks directly to a more amorphous deity.

Of course, no self-respecting economy would be complete without a healthy spam industry. Shalampax's is by no means a self-respecting economy, but we have a healthy spam industry nonetheless. Selling the usual array of lotions, potions and services, our spam firms collectively contribute 30% of our GDP.

Because of the lower margins available from horoscope sales, we had to find ways to reduce the cost of producing them. Consequently, we've implemented a system that uses a division of labor to ensure that employees become experts in their discrete tasks. Some people do nothing for all of their exceptionally short, infrequent working days but write horoscope predictions. Some specialize in positive predictions, others in negative ones. This is further subdivided into specialists in positive and negative financial predictions and positive and negative personal predictions. The finished predictions are placed into a large drum. Other people randomly select predictions from the drum and use a dartboard to assign them to astrological signs. The tasks of sending out these finished horoscopes is assigned to different people based on the channel used to distribute them: our secure Web site, e-mail, regular mail, telephone 900 numbers and newspapers.

A coconut palm grove, which is still actively harvested to produce 1% of our GDP, fills the eastern half of our island and, apart from the fish caught off our shores, provides the only local source of food for our people. It has been suggested that we should cut down some of the palm trees to make room for other crops, thereby allowing us to diversify our diet, but we felt that would interfere with the free and fair selection of our government leaders (see government), so we discarded the idea.

The one percent of our GDP that is listed as "other" is primarily more of a hopeful prediction than a current fact. You're probably expecting at least some of it to come from tourism. You're wrong. (See tourism.) We expect most of the other revenue will eventually come from sales of souvenirs, trinkets and trash available in our Web store. People seem to like that sort of garbage

Electricity generation also squeezes into that one percent "other" category, but electricity production here is so slight that it isn't worth mentioning. Not being worth mentioning has never stopped us from mentioning things in the past, so why should we stop now? Click here to read about the Shalampax electricity supply.

A problem has arisen due to our enormous wealth: We can't figure out how to spend it all. Because of how difficult it is to land ships on our shores and because we have no room to build an airstrip, it is hard to import goods. Our usual practice is to ask ships to wait offshore until one of our exceptionally infrequent calm days, which we consider to be any day when the sea swells are 3 meters (9.84 feet) or less. Then, as quickly as slothful people like us can, we rebuild the dock that was smashed apart by the fierce tropical storms that typically pass through every 24 to 48 hours. When the dock is complete, we have to hurry to summon the waiting ships and offload them before the next tempest arrives to destroy the dock and any ships still alongside it.

For Shalampaxian eyes only: Cult manual.



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Shalampax and Shalampaxian are trademarks of Klebanoff Associates, Inc.