In Joseph Heller's Catch 22, Milo Minderbinder -- the Assistant Governor-General of Malta, Mayor of Palermo, Vice Shah of Oran, Caliph of Baghdad, Imam of Damascus, and Sheik of Araby -- runs Yossarian's mess hall on Pianosa as the resident capitalist genius.

Aside from the incident involving a package of pitted dates and half a stolen bedsheet, the best example of Milo's economic prowess is his syndicate's process for selling seven-cent Maltese eggs to the mess halls at a price of only five cents an egg while still making a profit.


Seven-cent Maltese eggs cost the sellers in Malta four and one-quarter cents each to procure. Milo is actually buying the eggs from himself in Malta, which means that as a seller there he is making two and three-quarter cents each egg. After he resells the seven-cent eggs to the mess halls for five cents each, he is still making a three-quarter cent profit per egg.

However, it turns out that Milo's Maltese eggs are actually one-cent Sicilian eggs which he has secretly shipped to Malta to drive up their value, yielding him another three and one-quarter cents profit per egg.

In short: in all these dealings, where Milo is the producer, consumer, and middleman (twice), he can afford a two cent per-egg loss, because overall the syndicate is making six cents revenue per egg. And everyone has a share.

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