Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins_ pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacturing of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as on the other plan, but half the men are totally idle while half are still overworked. In this way, it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined? -- Bertrand Russell


Written by David Rothermich -

Actually, in a sensible world, half of the people and companies currently making pins would switch to an industry that provides more benefit to society, such as making shoes or some as-yet-undiscovered product. The only way to decide which people switch industries is to have some go out of business. Otherwise, there is a huge amount of productive capacity going to waste, and society would not really advance.

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