The Economics of the Wizarding World DO Make Sense!

Your wands may have cost you 7 galleons each, Messrs. DeGeorge, but tell me this… how much do LIES cost???

I sometimes have weird thoughts when I wake up. And when I go to sleep. And for the majority of the time in between. And my dreams aren’t exactly normal, so… The point is, a few days ago, I awoke and was instantly hit with a fully formed idea – what if, all this time, Harry and the Potters were dead fucking wrong? What if the economics of the wizarding world actually make perfect sense, especially as relating to the relative prices of unicorn hairs? Allow me to prove my case.

Let’s start with the basics: 10 galleons for a unicorn hair, 7 galleons for a brand new wand – minus 3 to Ollivander, right? Not quite. First of all, it would be more like minus 3 galleons, at least a few sickles, and a handful knuts – in addition to procuring the expensive butt hairs, Ollivander also has to obtain the necessary wandwood, many types of which would require costly importing (especially post-Brexit) or costly travel (Brexit probably didn’t affect apparation). This is all to say nothing of the cost of labor which must surely factor into the price of such important, difficult to make magical objects. Ollivander could very well be out up to 4 whole galleons, maybe even 5, when everything is considered. Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m pointing this out – doesn’t this weaken my case? Just the opposite, dear reader, just the opposite.

Then how to explain this price discrepancy? Ollivander is a smart man – he can’t be walking down the Alley, plopping ten big ones down for a unicorn hair, walking back to his shop, jamming it in a branch, and then selling it back for seven, can he? Surely not. First, we must consider bulk pricing. A single unicorn hair is 10 galleons, sure, but roughly a third of Ollivander’s entire stock contains unicorn hair. He definitely is not buying these one at a time. Moreover, consider our source for these numbers – the 7 comes from an 11 year old boy in 1991, the 10 comes from a drunk in 1997. We’re going to operate on the assumption that both of these numbers are true for their time periods, because to do otherwise would be a cop-out. And I’ve never, ever, been known to pull a cop-out. 6 years is a lot of time – compare the economic states of the US in 1997 and 2003, or 2005 and 2011. Inflation is a thing that happens, and the wizarding world’s economic system, at least in Great Britain, is shown to be pretty much exactly like other western capitalist systems – just smaller.

Still, even if we assume that unicorn hairs were 7 galleons in 1991, and that Ollivander breaks even on every wand he sells and he fishes all the wood from a dumpster, a 43 percent increase in inflation in just 6 years is crazy, especially considering this was the relatively financially stable 90’s. And bulk pricing helps, but with his connections and relevant teaching position, it’s not hard to imagine that Slughorn got similar deals as Ollivander. So, were unicorn hairs around the same price in 1991 as they were in 1997? No, and it has nothing to do with inflation and bulk pricing (though we can still shave at least a sickle or two off the price due to those factors) – it has to do with unicorns themselves.

Here’s the thing – Unicorns are kinda dumb. Sure, they’re pretty and magical and shit, but they still are horses that for some reason prefer to live in forests rather than, you know, plains and areas where they can actually run around with hitting trees and tripping over roots and shit. Not to mention, Quirrel was able to successfully track down and kill two of these things! Sure, he had A Voldemort On The Back Of His Head, but it was still the reedy, physically unimposing Quirrel doing all the jumping around the forest and stalking between trees. Unicorns can’t be that hard to catch, and it can’t be too hard to obtain their tail hairs, especially since killing a unicorn is this great taboo, but there still seems to be plenty of unicorn horns to go around. So then why are the tail hairs so expensive, more expensive than the thing that allows you to actually, you know, perform actual fucking magic? Because I lied earlier – there was a huge jump in inflation, it just wasn’t economy-wide. It was just for unicorn parts. Unicorns were rarish, but not terribly hard to find, and they were immensely desirable. But eventually the bubble burst, and the population became critically low. Maybe it was hunting/using for parts, maybe it was a disease, or deforestation, or muggle expansion. The point is, unicorns had become an endangered species.

Then why was Quirrel able to find two in the space of weeks in one forest? Simple – the Forbidden Forest was being used as a unicorn sanctuary. Protected from muggles and loggers, near the careful eye of Dumbledore, not too far from a transport hub and tourist location – the Forbidden Forest is the perfect place to house unicorns. And Quirrel killed two of the last remaining specimens – no wonder the price has skyrocketed! Canon continually supports this as well – in Harry’s fourth year, Grubbly-Plank teaches unicorn care, a pretty early age to study Class XXXX creatures, especially when being taught by an actually competent teacher not content to throw children into a pit of firesnakecrabs and go jerk off to dragons. Later, in 1996, one of the O.W.L. questions is about the proper food needed to feed a sick unicorn. This is pretty specific, and if unicorns were so rare, then why would the diet of ill unicorns be on the Ordinary Wizarding Levels? Because the Ministry is scared and desperate. Unicorns are dying out in England.

So there we go – case solved, right? Not exactly. Sure, this explains most things, but it doesn’t fill every hole in the theory. We’re just getting started.

So let’s assume that everything I said above is wrong. There are a couple of logical jumps here and there, so let’s just throw it all out. Back to the chalkboard. No problem. Let’s discuss the matter of Ollivander himself. I believe that it’s fairly clear that Ollivander has some hand in the process of collecting the various ingredients needed for the making of wands. After all, this is a man that is, by his own admission, obsessed with making the perfect wands. Even his wand is obsessed with making wands! His wand is made of Hornbeam, a wood suited suited to witches and wizards with an obsession (or “vision”), and Hornbeam wands often become highly specialized to only further the owner’s vision. This would explain how a 100+ year old man is getting shit from unicorns and dragons and phoenixes, tangling with bowtruckles, etc. – he his immensely skilled and magically powerful at any task relating to making the perfect wand. So, Ollivander won’t do too shabbily against a dragon, but he’s not gonna be much use against a werewolf, or especially against other wizards (he was captured relatively easily, so…). It makes sense for a man with such a singular lifelong focus to be involved in as much of the wand making process as possible. He has to feel the wood (he even once complained of bowtruckle scratches), he has to see the unicorn before he removes the hairs, he has to know that everything is perfect.

So not only are his ingredients not purchased, but collected himself, but it is likely that he has extra lying around. I mean, once you find one good unicorn, you’re probably going to take more than one hair at a time. So here’s an easy, simple solution to the seeming paradox presented by Harry and the Potters: Ollivander collects his own unicorn hair, and sells it to nearby shops and apothecaries at a decent markup – after all, he did risk his life and he is a sweet old man after all. Well, more creepy. But still. This makes even more sense when coupled with the unicorn scarcity proposed above. And if even all that doesn’t convince you? Well how about this – the wands, especially wands for children, especially especially wands for first-time Hogwarts students, especially especially especially wands for the messianic savior of your entire culture that everyone collectively let rot under some stairs for decade – the wands are probably subsidized by the government. After all, what use is a magical populace if it is not educated and armed? We know that Hogwarts is subsidized by the Ministry, it makes sense for first-time wands to be as well. Hell, it’s honestly kind of crazy that first-time wands aren’t completely subsidized, but whatever. That’s what you get for living in a capitalist wizarding society.

When all of the evidence is put together, there is no logical course of action than to accept the truth – Paul and Joe DeGeorge were wrong. The economics of the wizarding world DO make sense. Since 2008, they have been lying to our very faces. I, for one, am disgusted, and I will take my apology only in the form of free Snitchwiches.

Wrock Snob out.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christie
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 08:20:31

    I love the idea of the forest as a unicorn sanctuary. Pretty sure I’ll always think of it that way now. ❤

    Not totally convinced they'd subsidize 1st time wand purchase though. Just because it makes logical sense to equip your students properly doesn't mean the ministry would actually do the sensible thing. (Like how kids have to bring most of their own supplies from home b/c public schools don't receive adequate funding to supply their classrooms. But then again Hogwarts has a fund for ppl who can't afford to go, right?, so I suppose wands would fit into that category and I've just proven myself wrong well ok then)

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Sep 28, 2016 @ 11:14:36

      Also, the Ministry is dumb, sure, but I’ve always gotten a very strong faux-imperialist British Pride tone from the wizarding community in general, and the Ministry in specific. Note the pride in wizards and witches from all over coming to London for an Ollivander’s wand. It seems to me it would be a point of pride to have good stock British wizards all with their Ollivander’s wands when they go out in the world.

      Reply

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