This post has appeared on SteadyStateManchester. While not unlike some traditional stories about the perils of unlimited abundance (the goose that laid the golden eggs, Midas, the men who sought gold and found death…) it adds some other dimensions – division of labour, exploitation, generational issues, exponential growth – despite being some 1000 years old.
It is a small contribution to renewing our understandings of real prosperity.

Steady State Manchester

Economic Growth a Fable.

This is a Chinese story, maybe 1,000 years old, Wang’s jar.

Wang, a poor peasant who could hardly feed his family, found a large empty jar and took it home.  While cleaning it, he dropped the brush he was using into the jar and suddenly the jar was full of brushes: brushes and more brushes and, for each one that Wang took out, another magically appeared inside the jar.  For some months the Wang family lived from the sale of brushes and, while still not comfortably off, their situation improved considerably.

But one day, while taking brushes out of the jar, Wang dropped a coin in the jar and then the jar filled with coins: coins and more coins.  The Wang family soon became the richest in the village and, so many coins being produced by the jar and so busy were the family, that Wang…

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