Saturday, April 11, 2009

Honesty sucks.

A short story by Italo Calvino begins thus:

There was a country where they were all thieves.

At night everybody would leave home with skeleton keys and shaded lanterns and go and burgle a neighbour’s house. They’d get back at dawn, loaded, to find their own house had been robbed.

So everybody lived happily together, nobody lost out, since each stole from the other, and that other from another again, and so on and on until you got to a last person who stole from the first. Trade in the country inevitably involved cheating on the parts both of the buyer and the seller. The government was a criminal organization that stole from its subjects, and the subjects for their part were only interested in defrauding the government. Thus life went on smoothly, nobody was rich and nobody was poor.

One day however, an honest man enters the town and wreaks havoc on the town’s economy. That’s the rest of the story.

I don’t know if somewhere in that story there is a lesson that provides a possible explanation for what caused the meltdown in the global economy. Did someone try something honest? And thereby let loose a chain of events that led to the crash? What a horrible thing to do!


Usha said...

Terrible indeed, what was he thinking!

Raj said...

Usha, honesty is not the best economic policy.