Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Little Red Hen Shrugged

Michelle Malkin recently rewrote the traditional children’s story The Ant and the Grasshopper in a column as an analogy to the proposed bailout of the mortgage industry. It reminded me of my own satirical rewrite of The Little Red Hen a few years ago. David Moon, a financial columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, had written a column where he commented on hearing about a rewrite of The Little Red Hen where the hen shares her bread with her three lazy neighbors in the end. In the column, he had referred to the original Little Red Hen as “Atlas Shrugged for Children.” I got to thinking, what would the Little Red Hen sound like if Ayn Rand had written it?  (Note: There are countless re-writes of this story on the Internet.  I certainly don't claim that my version is particularly well done or original.  However, I do believe some of the versions I have run across may have based some parts of their retelling on my story as I have posted it a few times elsewhere.)  Here is the version I sent it to Mr. Moon:

The Little Red Hen Shrugged
by with apologies to Ayn Rand

Once upon a time, there was a very industrious little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered quite a few grains of wheat. She called all of her neighbors together and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?"

"Not I," said the pig.

"Not I," said the cat.

"Not I," said the dog.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did.

With careful tending by the Little Red Hen, the wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.

"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," oinked the pig while running off to cool herself in the mud.

"Out of my classification," meowed the cat then stretched and fell asleep.

"I’m disabled," barked the dog while chasing a car.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the Little Red Hen, and so she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.

"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.

"That would be overtime for me," said the cat.

"I'd lose my disability benefits," said the dog.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the Little Red Hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat one loaf, save two loaves for a rainy day, and sell two loaves. I will, however, sell you some bread."

"You are getting more than your fair share!" cried the pig.

"But what about the working poor?" protested the cat.

"You are discriminating against us because of our species!" yelled the dog.

The jackass showed up to lead a protest. A TV news crew showed up to cover the protest. The local congressman quickly introduced a bill prohibiting little red hens from taking advantage of pigs, cats and dogs; he called the bill “The Fairness in Production Act.” The powerful congressman summoned the Little Red Hen to a congressional committee hearing.

The committee chairman scolded the Little Red Hen, "You must not be so greedy."

"But I earned the bread," said the Little Red Hen.

"Earned?" said the indignant chairman. "Listen, through not effort of your own, you have won life’s lottery. Why should your neighbors be punished because you have been lucky?"

“Lucky?” protested the little red hen. “While true I found the grain, it is also true that I was the only one looking for it. Just like I was the only one to plant the wheat, tend to the wheat, harvest the wheat, take it to the miller, and bake the bread. Isn’t it enough that 50% of all the eggs I lay are confiscated by the government to feed the pig, the cat and the dog? How is that fair?”

“Fair?” stormed the congressman. “How can you bring up the question of fairness? How is it “fair” that you and only you get to decide what happens to the bread?”

“Maybe,” snapped the Little Red Hen, “it is because I was the only one who decided to mix my labor with the land to grow the wheat. You aren’t proposing to make me a slave by forcing me to work for your benefit are you?” The congressman smiled, leaned back in his chair and in a moment of candor said, “Well, I do believe you understand exactly what I am proposing. Now hand over the bread or else!”

“Even if I do that, why would I go to the trouble to bake any bread the next time?” asked the Little Red Hen.

“It is because,” said the congressman, “if you don’t they will starve.”

“In that case,” shrugged Little Red Hen, “let them! For no one owns me!”

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