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The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen

September 22, 2020
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     Ronald Reagan told many demonstrative stories. One of my favorites is his

     informal treatise on economics, “The Modern Little Red Hen:”*

 

          Once upon a time there was a little red hen who scratched about the

     barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. She called her

     neighbors and said, “If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who

     will help me plant it?”

 

           “Not I,” said the cow.

           “Not I,” said the duck.

           “Not I,” said the pig.

           “Not I,” said the goose.

           “Then I will,” said the little red hen. And she did.

 

          The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. “Who will help me

     reap my wheat?” asked the little red hen.

 

          “Not I,” said the duck.

          “Out of my classification,” said the pig.

          “I’d lose my seniority,” said the cow.

          “I’d lose my unemployment compensation,” said the goose.

          “Then I will,” said the little red hen, and she did.

 

          At last it came time to bake the bread. “Who will help me bake bread?”

     asked the little red hen.

 

          “That would be overtime for me,” said the cow.

          “I’d lose my welfare benefits,” said the duck.

          “I’m a dropout and never learned how,” said the pig.

          “If I’m the only helper, that’s discrimination,” said the goose.

          “Then I will,” said the little red hen.

 

          She baked five loaves and held them up for her neighbors to see.

 

          They all wanted some, and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little

     red hen said, “No, I can eat all five loaves myself.”

 

          “Excess profits,” cried the cow.

          “Capitalist leech,” screamed the duck.

          “I demand equal rights,” yelled the goose.

          And the pig just grunted.

 

          And they painted “unfair” picket signs and marched round and round

     the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

 

          When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen, “You

     must not be greedy.”

          “But I earned the bread,” said the little red hen.

          “Exactly,” said the agent. “That is the wonderful free enterprise

     system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under

     our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide

     their product with the idle.”

          And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who

     smiled and clucked, “I am grateful, I am grateful.”

 

          But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more

     bread.

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     *Page 86, Stories in His Own Hand, Skinner & Anderson. Free Press 2001