The Irony of the Welfare State

Once upon a time there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. The little red hen calls on her neighbors and asks who will help her plant the wheat, that they might have some bread. The cow, the duck, the pig, and the goose beg off. So the hen plants the wheat herself. It grows tall and bears ripe grain. She asks who will help harvest the wheat.

“Not I,” says the duck.
“Out of my classification,” says the pig.
“I’d lose my seniority,” says the cow.
“I’d lose my unemployment compensation,” says the goose.

So the hen harvests the wheat herself. In time she asks who will help her bake the bread.

“That would be overtime for me,” says the cow.
“I’d lose my welfare benefits,” says the duck.
“I’m a dropout and never learned how,” says the pig.
“If I’m the only helper, that’s discrimination,” says the goose.

The hen bakes the bread herself. She shows it to her neighbors. They each demand a share. The hen refuses and keeps the bread for herself.

“Excess profits!” says the cow.
“I demand equal rights!” yells the goose.
“Capitalist leech!” screams the duck.
“But I earned the bread?!” retorts the hen.

The neighbors grovel with the barn leader, who is elected by the neighbors. The hen is forced to share her bread with the neighbors by the barn leader.

“I’m grateful!” Declares the pig.
“I’m happy!” Proclaims the duck.

Her neighbors wondered why she never baked the bread again.

-Ronald Reagan, 1976


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