Friday, September 26, 2008


I normally don’t post a whole lot of material on the topics of Politics and Economics, but this piece by Houston Steve was irresistible. Enjoy...and read into it whatever you like.

A Fairy Tale for Our Time
(with apologies to George Orwell)
by Houston Steve

Once upon a time there was a co-operative that had a pig farm. The farm had been running for some time with mostly good results - the occasional banner year and the occasional downer - but mostly it was generating a decent return for the co-op members. One day the manager, who had been working the farm for about eight years, said he had to leave. The co-op shopped around for a new manager, and they found a man who had some new, bold ideas about how to accelerate the rate of return the co-op members got on their pigs.

It seems that pigs will fatten up very rapidly if you let them eat to their heart’s content, but if they eat too much they get overweight and sick; therefore, they are much easier to control if you feed them a steady diet. To that end the co-op had devised a series of food dispensers that put out enough food to allow the pigs to fatten up without getting sick. The new manager pointed out that the dispensers were expensive to maintain, so the co-op could save money if they turned them off (and he could give that money – the co-op members’ hard earned money - directly back to the members), and the manager promised that he would keep an eye on the pigs so they wouldn’t get out of control. And “Oh, by the way,” the manager said, “This breed of pigs really knows how to control themselves without the food dispensers anyway.” So the co-op members had some misgivings, but they went along with the new manager.

Shortly after the decision was made to turn off the food dispensers, a coyote managed to get into the chicken coop, which was kept on the opposite side of the farm, well away from the pig pens. The manager was furious, so he dropped everything and went hunting for the coyote. He looked and looked, but couldn’t find him anywhere. Then he heard that two counties over there was a den where some bears were hibernating. He knew that bears don’t eat chickens, but everyone knew bears were dangerous anyway, and he could easily kill them while they were asleep. Besides, he was sure the co-op members would be impressed if he made sure that the bears would never pose any danger in the future. So he went to the bear’s den and killed them. But he didn’t know that there was another bear den just over the hill, and when they heard the gunfire it woke them up. The bears came out and starting chasing the manager all over the place. Pretty soon the manager ran out of bullets for his gun, but the bears were getting tired of all the running around since they hadn’t eaten anything for months, so they decided to go grazing for a while.

The manager pounded his chest and said he had defeated the bears! But then he got word that the coyote got back into the chicken coop, so he ran back to the farm.

On the way to the farm he suddenly remembered the pigs. He hoped they hadn’t eaten too much, but of course they had. In fact, they had eaten so much that they couldn’t fit into the truck, and there was no way to get them to market. So he had to call a meeting and explain to the co-op members that there were a few problems.

“There’s a problem with the pigs,” he said.

As he explained it, it was going to be necessary to keep the pigs on the farm for a while longer until he could figure out a way for the co-op to buy a bigger truck to take the overgrown pigs to market. In the meantime they were going to have to continue feeding the pigs or they would starve to death and the co-op would lose all the money they had spent raising the pigs. And because the food dispensers were turned off all the food was gone, so they were going to have to buy some more, even though they were already over budget on the food expenditures.

“Well then,” they said, “let’s go ahead and sell some of the chickens so we can buy the pig feed with the proceeds, and we’ll eat chicken for a while!” But the manager had to remind them that the coyote was back in the chicken coop and since he had no bullets, it really wasn’t safe to go over there to get eggs or chickens (assuming there were any left). They were just going to have to find some money for him or their pigs would all die.

“So what are we supposed to do for our own food in the meantime?” they asked.

“Well,” the manager said, “We have all this pig shit around here, and it’s nutritious for the plants, so you are just going to have to eat shit sandwiches for a while.”

“But people can’t eat shit sandwiches!” they cried. “It’s not healthy!”

“Well,” he said, “you have a point there, but look at it this way. If you don’t eat the shit sandwiches you know you are going to starve to death. And if you do eat them and you don’t get sick, you’ll get through this.”

“Well, then, how about we eat some of the pig food?”

“Can’t do that,” he said. “If the pigs don’t get enough to eat for their current weight they get cranky and they might run away.”

“Hey,” one of the members said, “remember all that corn we put in storage? We can eat some of that!”

“No can do,” the manager said. We used the surplus that didn’t go into the pig feed to make ethanol for the generators. You know, the ones we used to run the heaters that keep the pigs warm so they eat better. No, you guys are going to have to make a decision pretty quick here. If we don’t get the pigs back to the trough they are going to scatter, and you will lose everything. By the way, the shit sandwiches are in pretty short supply and the price is going up by the minute. Anyone ready to buy a few?”

[©2008 Houston Steve. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.]

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