A Parable

Hoen Thong, the Emperor of China, was sitting one day in the gardens of Peking with his favourite counsellor Ti Chi. They talked of the long glories of the Chinese empire, from the beginning of the world to the present era ; the excellence of its laws, and the wisdom of its government.

“Ti Chi,” said the emperor,” what is most to be feared in a government ?” ” In my opinion, sire,” replied the counsellor, ” nothing is more to be dreaded than the rat in the statue.”

The emperor not understanding the allegory, Ti Chi explained it to him. “You know, sire,” said he, “that it is a common practice to erect statues to our ancestors. These statues are of wood, hollow within, and painted without. If a rat gets into one of them, you can’t smoke it out: it’s the image of your father; and you can’t plunge it into the water, for it will wash off the paint. So, the rat is safe, because the image is sacred.

from The Percy Anecdotes

h/t to the Facebook page I bet Ludwig von Mises can get more fans than John Maynard Keynes


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