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Rise and Fall of the Chicken Empire
“Chickens Rule” read the sign on Old Red Rooster’s office wall. The sign was a gift from his Great Grandmother, Little Red Hen, who had been the hardest working chicken on the farm. Chickens did not always rule their own farm. The Geese, who founded the farm a long time ago, were wealthy and powerful. They discovered land populated by wild turkeys who roamed it in search of food before civilized farms came to this part of the world. The geese claimed the land and drove turkeys further and further from the best lands until they all but disappeared. Chickens, who were not as respected as geese back on the goose farm, were brought to the new farm as workers. The fruits of their labors went to making the geese even wealthier.
The geese exploited the new lands as well as the chickens who worked them. Eventually the chickens grew tired of fowl treatment at the hands of the geese. They protested high taxes on grain and corn, which were essential to the chicken’s survival. They were upset that chickens could only buy products from the goose farm. Some chickens got so mad that they dumped a whole shipment of down pillows into the river while dressed as wild turkeys. After a long struggle, the chickens won their independence from the geese and took control of their own farm.
The chicken farm expanded and prospered. While chickens had their share of internal struggles, they came through them stronger and more unified. When the tough times like droughts hit the farms, the chickens worked hard and found ways to provide for themselves and others including their old masters, the geese.
When the economic times got better, the chickens out produced anyone. Chickens became wealthy and strong while other farm animals lived simple, but poor lives. The chicken farm had become the top farm, a real food power.
After a while, the chickens found that they preferred doing the high skilled work like analyzing crop production and projecting harvest yields. It was much more suited to their superior brains. More and more of the menial work was given to the animals from outside the farm. Oh, they still had to do the planting, but that required skills that the other animals just couldn’t master.
As more time passed the chickens, who did planting and weeding tired of such hard work. They sought the high paying jobs in management of the farm. The roosters decided that they would get the neighboring farms set up to do the actual growing of crops so that the chickens could concentrate on managing production and distribution. They paid the neighboring farms a small fraction of the retail price for food so they still made a hearty profit. The chickens became farm management specialists and other animals did the dirty work of planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting the food. Some of the more powerful roosters formed big food corporations like Eggson and Hay-Mart who controlled markets throughout the farming world. The elite roosters of the farm ran these corporations.
Soon the chicken farm was becoming so wealthy from the labor of others that they decided to let the neighboring farms manage their own operations. The other animals were eager to become wealthy just like the chickens so they worked hard to make more and more food that could be sold at cheaper prices. Eventually the chickens actually started buying their own food from the other farms. It was much cheaper than doing it themselves so why grow your own?
As years passed, the chickens led comfortable lives, still making money off the work of other farms and doing high-level ‘thinking’ work. Old Red Rooster was worried that the chickens depended too much on other farms. He thought, “It’s a good thing that other farms produced cheap food because none of the chickens actually knew how to grow food any more.” It had become lost knowledge. Old Red talked to his most trusted advisors, Hen Lay, Barnyard Eggers, and Dick Capon. However, his advisors pointed out that they were paying low prices for importing from other farms and selling at huge profits and they urged Old Red Rooster not to worry.
One day the pig farm decided that it too wanted to live the good life just like the chickens, so they raised their price for corn. Pigs were tired of being oppressed by the wealthy chickens. Several pigs protested carrying signs that said “down with chickens”. They burned feathers and smashed eggs to show how much they hated chickens.
The cow farm followed suit and raised prices for hay. They too decided that the chickens were evil because they profited from the work of others. Soon all the neighboring farms raised prices. The other farms also decided to stop buying food from the chickens and buy direct from each other.
Old Red Rooster called together his advisors to figure out how to deal with these rising prices. “Just pay them,” said Hen Lay. Hen knew a thing or two about buying from suppliers and selling to customers “We can make the numbers work” he assured.
“We don’t want to upset the other farms because they labor for our profits” said Dick Capon “Besides, there is no way we can produce food cheaper than they do”.
“Our chickens won’t do such menial work for low wages any more.” added Barnyard Eggers.
Therefore, Old Red Rooster decided not to fight the price increases. After all, roosters were still making a tidy profit on top of those goods imported from other farms and they did employ most of the chickens on the farm.
Chickens had to pay a little more each month for food. Soon they were borrowing money from the chicken bank to buy food and other niceties. The head of the chicken bank wrote a memo to Old Red Rooster warning him of the situation.
Old Red again called on his advisors. “Our chickens are spending more than they earn,” he said. “Everyone will soon be in debt”. His advisors all told him not to worry, their banks had plenty of money and besides spending was good for the economy and would create jobs, which for some reason were getting scarce on the chicken farm lately.
Price increases from the other farms were cutting into profits for the roosters, who no longer had outside markets and were selling only to chickens. With profits reduced, the roosters had to cut staff. After all, how many chickens did you really need just to count money? Old Red Rooster’s advisors urged him to hire the unemployed chickens to help govern the farm. “But how will we pay them” said Old Red Rooster. “Taxes of course” said Dick Capon “We can also give out contracts to private corporations to perform government work. They can employ more chickens that way”.
Soon most of the chickens worked for the farm administration but they had to be heavily taxed so that there was enough money to pay them. Everyone complained about the rising taxes, they had to borrow more and more just to make ends meet. The private corporations did not hire chickens to do the government work, but instead found lower wage animals from other farms.
Taxes were killing the chicken farm economy. Even the Roosters started complaining about the taxes. “You have to give us roosters a tax break, after all we can’t provide jobs unless we have profits,” they said.
Old Red Rooster thought about that. He knew that he couldn’t keep hiring all the chickens to work in his administration because there wasn’t enough tax money, but how could he give tax breaks to the roosters? He asked the roosters “What about your record profits?”
They exclaimed “Those are not our fault … it’s the market conditions … supply and demand … internal rate of return” and other words that Old Red did not fully understand.
Old Red Rooster went to his advisors, who were ready with guidance to help their leader. His advisors told him he could solve the budget crisis by borrowing money from the other farms. The other farms had way too much money and wanted to lend it out.
“But how will we repay the debt?” asked Old Red.
The wise and sure Hen Lay told him “You use borrowed money to pay off the debt.”
“Its just simple accounting as anyone can see. It keeps revolving and no one will ever notice,” he promised. Hen Lay knew about banking - he was even on the board of the Piggy Bank.
Old Red Rooster did not like to borrow money but he had no choice. At first, their debt was just chicken scratch but soon it grew into buckets of money borrowed daily just to keep the chicken farm running.
Then seemingly without warning (oh sure there was intelligence data but that’s hardly ever correct), the pig farm decided that chickens were all wrong about life. The pigs wanted the chickens to renounce chicken-hood and become pigs.
The chickens were appalled at such an idea. “How can we become pigs -- we’re chickens!” they said. “Don’t they know who we are?” asked the chickens. Chickens became angry too. They said, “We’ll become pigs when chickens fly!”
The pigs got together with all the other farms and they decided to withhold their food products from the chickens. The pigs reminded them that the chickens were the great evil ones who profited from everyone else’s labors. They also reminded them that the chickens were deeply in debt to all of the other farms. The pigs pointed out that the chickens could never pay those debts because they did not produce anything on the chicken farm to sell.
The chickens talked to all of the other farms to get them to see how silly the pig request was and how they were radicals who could not be trusted. They offered to buy more food from all of the other farms. The other farms were willing but they would not extend credit. They wanted cash. The chickens were indeed unable to generate income because they produced no products of their own to sell. Outside workers now performed even the services they used to perform for other farms.
Old Red Rooster once more gathered his advisors. “I’m afraid the other farms will just take us over” he said. “We owe them more money than our farm is worth and we have no more money to pay for food”. Alas, his advisors were out of ideas. Most of them did have bank accounts on the other farms, which they funded with their profits from importing food so they knew they could always feather their nests, but the rest of the chicken farm that had nowhere to turn.
“I know -- we’ll grow our own food,” said Old Red Rooster. Then his advisors reminded him that they had not grown food for so long that they no longer knew how. They also reminded him that they sold their farming tools to raise capital (after they were fully depreciated of course).
Old Red Rooster had a final thought “At least we have good security around our hen house to protect us,” he announced. His advisors just shook their beaks and clucked. “What’s the problem?” asked Old Red Rooster. Then Dick Capon reminded him that they had sold the security business to an outside firm. “Who did we sell it to?” he asked. “Mister Fox” came the reply. “Mister Fox guards the hen house now”
The End (of chickens)