Of horses and zebras

Zhang Weiying's allegory to understand some of the economical reforms happened in china starting in the 80s, particularily the process of `dual-track' pricing. 
"[There was] a village that relied on horses to conduct its chores. Over time, the village elders realised that the neighbouring village, which relied on zebras, was doing better. So after years of hailing the virtues of the horse, they decided to embrace the zebra. The only obstacle was converting the villagers who had been brainwashed over decades into worshipping the horse. The elders developed an ingenious plan. Every night, while the villagers slept, they painted black stripes on the white horses. When the villagers awoke the leaders reassured them that the animals were not really zebras, just the same old horses adorned with a few harmless stripes. After a long interval the village leaders began to replace the painted horses with real zebras. These prodigious animals transformed the village's fortunes, increasing productivity and creating wealth all around. Only many years later—long after all the horses had been replaced with zebras and the village had benefited from many years of prosperity—did the elders summon the citizenry to proclaim that their community was a village of zebras, and that zebras were good and horses bad."
Comments (3)  Permalink


mc @ 22.06.2008 22:23 CET
This is a great story! I wonder if the village leaders painted white and then black or black and then white?

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hannah @ 23.06.2008 18:43 CET
i love your h
etoy.Fred @ 24.06.2008 01:47 CET
There will be a big advantage to take, if the economist can tell a story, because he can then avoid to discuss the sensitive, real, and economic problem. And then, people will be more interested in the "zebras and horses" than the original sensitive issue. It is so diplomatic, political, and sophisticated. Sometime, I just want some really economic things, otherwise, send him back into his lab to do some research before he become a superstar by telling smart stories...I think there is a wise idiom in wall street(although there can also be a lot of stupid things...), that is, "Never trust media"...#_#
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