A Fable for Our Time
Once upon a time, there was a civilisation deep in the jungle, that excelled at producing stone scupltures. The stone was laborious to dig, and most of the quarries were far away from the villages, so that extracting it entailed enormous expense--more so when large pieces had to be quarried and transported for the carving of particularly large pieces. Large sculptures came to be associated with great wealth and status.
The sculptures preferred as status symbols were those that represented the heads of the individuals that commissioned them. The larger the sculpture, the greater the expense, naturally, and greater the status. Commissioning a great many sculptures, as large as possible, of one's own head became the ultimate expression of wealth and power.
In the competition among the elites to prove their position to the world, they prioritized the commissioning of their great portraits in stone above other pursuits. They squandered their accumulated wealth, and then took frequently to borrowing and falling into debt in order to own the largest and greatest number of heads in the village.
In time, even the middle classes took to emulating this practice to the extent that their resources allowed, and themselves began borrowing money that they might be able to prominently and proudly display at least one massive stone head on their properties and prove their worth to the community. This became the goal of their work and all of their endeavors.
Thus greater and greater numbers of stone carvers became needed to keep up with the demand for the sculptures. There were never enough carvers, and there was no end to the work to be done.
The people's relentless quest to own as many large heads as they could led them to neglect other areas of the economy. Other industries lost their support as everyone poured their funds into the collection of heads. Farmers, craftsman, and other labourers neglected their own crafts. Gardens and workshops fell to ruin.
Eventually, the economy collapsed completely, and the villages were overtaken with povery, famine, and disease. All of the inhabitants of died, and nothing remained of their once great civilisation.
Except for the powerful thick heads.