T H E L I T T L E R E D H E N
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 work together and plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant the wheat?"
"Not I," said the cow.
"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 the wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"I'd lose my seniority," mooed the cow.
"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 the bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"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, crowding around the little red hen, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I'll eat the five loaves myself."
"Excess profits!" cried the cow. "You're taking advantage of those who have less!"
Then they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched round and round the little red hen, shouting obscenities. As the news wire and broadcast reporters arrived to document the greediness of the little red hen's executive compensation package, the cow, duck, pig and goose chanted, "No justice, no peace!"
Soon the little red hen was invited to appear on a weekend discussion show along with one of the many government agents in charge of regulating the production of bread. "At last," cried the little red hen. "How good it is to see someone who will defend my right to the bread I make!"
And the government agent said, "You must not be greedy, little red hen. Look at the oppressed cow. Look at the exploited duck. Look at the underprivileged pig. Look at the disadvantaged goose. Don't you realize that you're guilty of making second-class citizens of them?"
"But... but," said the little red hen, "I earned the bread when they did nothing to help!"
"Ah," said the wise and kindly bureaucrat, "that was their revolution against your exploitation of their labor. For it is a historical inevitability that those like you who own the means of production always exploit those who can only sell their labor. Under our modern and benevolent government regulations, those who are productive must divide their product with those who are not."
"I see," exclaimed the little red hen. "I will be a better person if I give my bread to those who will not work for their own!"
"No," said the government agent. "That would be paternalistic of you, continuing your pattern of oppression of others by implying that they are helpless without you. Instead, because you cannot be trusted, we in the government will take your bread from you and distribute it according to our superior understanding of the needs of the people."
"But it seems that I am in the wrong no matter what I do!" wondered the little red hen.
The government agent smiled. "Now you understand."
And so, all the animals in the barnyard lived together happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked how grateful she was that her greed and unthinking arrogance had been exposed.
But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread.