Daniel J. Mitchell

In previous posts, I’ve shared the PC version of the story about the ant and the grasshopper, as well as the modern fable about bureaucracy, featuring an ant and a lion. And I’ve also posted a revised version of Green Eggs and Ham.

Now we have a nursery rhyme about the little red hen. But not the old-fashioned version. Here’s the modernized version the President reads to his kids.

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“Who will help me plant my wheat?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” said the cow.
“Not I,” said the duck.
“Not I,” said the pig.
“Not I,” said the goose.
“Then I will do it by myself.” She planted her crop and the wheat grew and ripened.

“Who will help me reap my wheat?” asked the little red hen.
“I’m on disability,” 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 do it by myself,” said the little red hen, and so she did.

“Who will help me bake the 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 to be the only helper, that’s discrimination,” said the goose.
“Then I will do it by myself,” said the little red hen, and so she did.

The smell of fresh-baked bread attracted all her neighbors. They saw the bread and wanted some. In fact, they demanded a share.

But the little red hen said, “No, I shall eat all the loaves.”

“Excess profits!” cried the cow.
“Capitalist leech!” screamed the duck.
“I demand equal rights!” yelled the goose.
“Share with the 99 percent,” grunted the pig.
And they all painted ‘Unfair!’ picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

Then the farmer came He said to the little red hen, “You must not be so greedy.”

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

“Exactly,” said the farmer. “That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are idle.”

And they all lived happily ever after.

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But only in the President’s fairy tale. In a real-world version, the little red hen never again baked bread and the farmyard suffered Greek-style chaos when the animals riding in the wagon suddenly discovered there was nobody left to pull the wagon.

If this fable seems familiar, you may be thinking about the post that used beer to explain the tax system. And if you prefer your irony on the 5th-grade level instead of the 3rd-grade level, here’s a post using two cows to explain various economic and political systems.


Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.
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