Because one of the candidates for the Republican nomination for President happens to be a Mormon,this has raised anew the question of polygamy: a marriage in which there is more than two partners. Properly, the most common form is polygyny, where a man is married to two or more women (who, by the way, are not married to each other!). Less commonly found is polyandry, where a woman is married to two or more men, and group marriage, where several mem and women are married collectively to each other.
Polyandry is occasionally found in Tibet, where two brothers might be married to the same woman who shares her affections with both.
Looking at the worldwide incidence of the forms of polygamy, while a majority of cultures permit some form of polygyny, in practice this is not a common relationship because of the approximate equality of the number of females to males of marriageable age. (Even at that, some of the present-day polygamists in this country have the dreadful practice of "marrying" underage girls. Also, very obviously, a possible polygamist must have the resources to provide for an enlarged household. As a further issue, apparently, some of the American polygamists maintain separate but nearby households for their wives!
Not surprisingly, having multiple wives is associated with power, wealth, and special status. The emperors of Imperial China and the sultans of the Ottoman Empire had very large harems at their service; often staffed by eunuchs, men who received the most unkindest cut and who are then called on to oversee and guard the harem.
Actually, in Islamic countries, a man may have up to four wives at a time; and not have to have permission of his already-present wives to add another to his roster. Women, on the other hand, can have only one husband; but if divorced she can then get a replacement.
Anyway, I've nattered enough about polygamy. Now, I'll get to the point:
Why not adopt legal polygamy as a means of coping with the economy slump?
After all, some of us Americans do practice polygamy, in a sense: it occurs in the form of serial monogamy. Yes, there are some people who actually use the term 'starter marriage.' Obviously, this practice is most notoriously visible in Hollywood. (Again, power, wealth, and special status.) The poor middle-aged secretary whose marriage when on the shoals is most usually in a permanent status as a not-so-gay divorcée. Others, instead of marrying, cohabit. Looking at this from a different angle, isn't there a small amount of hypocrisy going on?
The adoption of polygamy as a lifestyle option should be strictly voluntary on all participants' parts (if both are of legal age), with both polyandry and polygyny allowable. As part of any polygamous arrangement, it should include some form of economic stability for the future: severance pay, retirement benefits, housing, and so forth to allow the divorced partner to maintain her or his lifestyle that she or he became accustomed to.
Would this disrupt the likelihood of many males being deprived of wives or girlfriends? Not likely, because of the costs involved to support a polygamous union and especially if polyandry is also an option. There should be a few affluent women who might crave variety in sexual partners. My guess is that only a small number of men or women might opt to be one of multiple spouses, but it might provide openings for a for a few. And consider the economic multiplier factors: this would spur building or occupying large mansions in order to make available space for harem-sized groups, stimulate clothing manufacturing to provide suitable clothing for wearing in harems (after all, us women learn at an early age to be properly dressed for an activity), exotic foods, support personnel such as beauticians, servants, gardeners, as well as the harem possessor's henchmen or henchwomen to guard these possible harems. This would result in many people being employed; sometimes well-paid, at that. And the harem girls or boys would be, effectively, taken out of the labor force. This would, therefore, provide a means for slackers to live well without doing any work! This is a good deal: these people are out of the labor force and yet are not on the public dole!
No, I do not see allowing eunuchs as a possibility. We have too many of those in university administration and public administration already.
In effect, this is als normalizing or legitimatizing what for some is referred to as "hooking up." And it would give a number of people economic security.
And maybe a latter-day Jane Austen might write, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a harem."
[Disclaimer: I would not choose this option.]