Economic Sophisms/173

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"A magnificent canal united them. The Emperor thought fit to order enormous blocks of stone to be thrown into it, for the purpose of rendering it useless.

On seeing this, Kouang, his first mandarin, said to him:

"Son of Heaven! this is a mistake."

To which the Emperor replied:

"Kouang! you talk nonsense."

I give you only the substance of their conversation.

At the end of three months, the Celestial Emperor sent again for the mandarin, and said to him:

"Kouang, behold!"

And Kouang opened his eyes, and looked.

And he saw at some distance &om the canal a multitude of men at work. Some were excavating, others were filling up hollows, levelling, and paving; and the mandarin, who was very knowing, said to himself, They are making a highway.

When other three months had elapsed, the Emperor again sent for Kouang, and said to him:

"Look!"

And Kouang looked.

And he saw the road completed, and from one end of it to the other he saw here and there inns for travellers erected. Crowds of pedestrians, carts, palanquins, came and went, and innumerable Chinese, overcome with fatigue, carried backwards and forwards heavy burdens from Tchin to Tchan, and from Tchan to Tchin; and Kouang said to himself. It is the destruction of the canal which gives employment to these poor people. But the idea never struck him that their labour was simply diverted from other employments.

Three months more passed, and the Emperor said to Kouang:

"Look!"

And Kouang looked.

And he saw that the hostelries were full of travellers, and that to supply their wants there were grouped around them butchers' and bakers' stalls, shops for the sale of edible birds' nests, etc. He also saw that, the artisans having need of clothing, there had settled among them tailors, shoemakers, and those who sold parasols and fans; and as they could not sleep in the open air, even in the Celestial Empire, there were also masons,Template:Smallrefs