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The Bakery (A Parable)

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Jul. 30th, 2012 | 02:54 pm

There’s a village. With a bakery. A good bakery. Best bread around, rye, wheat, raisin, semolina, and a shelf of day-old at the back, on sale. There’s a hundred people in the village and every morning eighty-two of them line up to buy bread. The ones who saved money from their paychecks, or from their mother’s housekeeping money, or inherited enough, or who work for kind Farmer Brown, who pays his fieldworkers a little bit extra in bakery tokens they can trade for bread.

A little fat girl joins the line at the bakery door.

She doesn’t have enough money to buy bread.

But she lines up anyway, because she’s hungry. It’s been a long time since her father worked, he drinks a lot of beer, and her mother’s not good at filling out forms, so she’s cleaning Mrs. Farmer Brown’s house and praying for something better.

The little fat girl spends a long time in line. Some of the villagers get to cut in front, because they’re willing to pay more for bread, and the baker will wait on them first. Everyone understands—you don’t have to pay more, but you should get to go first if you do, the baker has to make a living, too.

When she finally gets to the front, she’s hungry and thirsty and can barely ask, “Please, can I have some bread?”

And the baker feels bad, but hey, he’s in business and you can’t just give away all the bread. You give one starving kid a currant bun, next thing you know you’ve got ten more lined up, then their parents, and if the kids just got off their asses and got a job, if their parents worked a little harder, they’d have that nickel. You can’t get that cycle started, or everyone will expect free bread. And he says, “No.”

So the little fat girl goes away hungry. Her father’s still drinking a lot of beer, her mother’s waiting for the end of the month, but right now there’s no money and no money means no bread.

Next day, though, she’s back in line. And it makes the baker a little uncomfortable, but he’s got his own family to feed, so buzz off, kid. And the villagers in line mutter about the little fat girl clogging up the line. And hey, she’s fat anyway, won’t hurt her to go hungry for a few days. Be a big girl, ha-ha. Suck it up. Maybe she should think twice before she keeps living with a father who drinks too much beer and a mother who picked the wrong job.

The little fat girl stays away for a few days. But the next week, she’s back in line. Not looking real good. Pale. Walking slow. She tells the village lady next in line, usually she spends the weekend picking up Dad’s beer bottles and taking them in for deposit, but she’s just been so hungry, it was hard to do anything, so she sat and rested. And the village lady says, “Well, perhaps if you’d gotten up and picked up bottles, you’d have the money to buy bread.”

The little fat girl hangs her head, and that makes her dizzy, and by the time she can see again the lady’s gone in and gotten her bread, saying something about “people who work hard,” and “handouts to freeloaders.”

The Mayor shows up. Tall guy. Chain of office. He’s got a new plan, and he’s here to tell everyone in the bread line.

“Ahem! Citizens. Villagers. We hereby announce, hem-hem, a New Plan.”

The villagers shuffle and mutter.

“Henceforth, those who can buy bread, will continue to buy bread as they wish, as long as they buy any bread at all, so their families may eat.”

This doesn’t sound any different, think the villagers. We already buy bread.

“And, anyone who can not afford to buy bread will now eat day-old bread. The village will provide the money to buy the day-old bread—at a discount of course, for quantity—and the baker will serve the loaves to those who are hungry.”

The baker thinks this is a terrible plan. Why should he suddenly be the bulk bread-manufacturer for the village? The day-old bread is half-price! How will he maintain his margins if he can’t focus on his richest customers, the ones he serves first?

The villagers are aghast—why should precious village funds be spent on day-old bread? Isn’t that little poor girl fat enough? Her father drinks beer! That money should be spent on bread! As for the other seventeen villagers who can’t buy bread, wouldn’t a nice rye loaf—paid for on their own, of course—be better than some stale, leftover doughnut holes no-one else wanted? If those seventeen people join the bakery line, won’t everyone else have to wait longer for their bread? Isn’t this just controlling everyone’s bodies, saying that the villagers with jobs must buy new loaves and those without must eat day-old bread? What if someone rich wants day-old bread instead of new?

Everyone begins to argue, the villagers demanding an immediate suspension of the bread-for-the-poor program, the baker announcing he’ll be ruined, ruined! and will consider closing the bakery.

The lady from the line looks at the little fat girl and says, “Don’t you understand how terrible this is? You’re going to have to eat day-old bread!” The little fat girl shrugs, and the lady turns away, still talking. “If this continues, we’ll all have to eat day-old bread, there won’t be any new bread any more! This program must be stopped!”

The little fat girl slips over to the Mayor’s side, and says, “Thanks. The stuff in the back’s pretty stale, but it sure beats starving. Can I please have one for me, and two for my parents?”


MORAL: When I’m starving, and you’re eating, you’d better have a pretty compelling plan for how I’ll be fed if you want to take away my day-old bread.

_______________________________

This "current events" piece for LJIdol inspired by “So, Let Me Explain How American Health Care Works.” from The New Yorker
and “What the Health Law Really Means for New Yorkers” in The Huffington Post.

_______________________________

whipchick is super tired of people with health care telling her how terrible it will be to get health care.







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Comments {14}

Kristen

(no subject)

from: pixiebelle
date: Jul. 30th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
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I loved the message in this one!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 5th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!! I know YOU get it about health care, too :)

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Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Aug. 2nd, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
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Parables present some of the best teaching opportunities!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 5th, 2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
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I hope this one does :)

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alycewilson

(no subject)

from: alycewilson
date: Aug. 8th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
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I really like this parable. You captured the attitudes well of the people involved in this debate. It's cool that we both took a similar approach to this topic.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 14th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! And I very much enjoyed yours, too!

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notodette

(no subject)

from: notodette
date: Aug. 9th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
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A great piece. I really loved it.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 14th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!

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LiveJournal

hell of a list of Idol recamendations

from: livejournal
date: Aug. 10th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
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User ashgaelsonaria referenced to your post from hell of a list of Idol recamendations saying: [...] http://whipchick.livejournal.com/21077.html [...]

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Laura, aka "Ro Arwen"

(no subject)

from: roina_arwen
date: Aug. 11th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
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I'm not a big fan of Obamacare, but I really enjoyed your parable. =)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 14th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :) And I think that's one of the big issues - I don't think Obamacare is the right or final answer...but it's better than what I have now, and I find it frustrating when no alternatives are presented.

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(Deleted comment)

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 14th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! And totally - I'm a dual, and one of the things I need to do while I'm in Edmonton right now is get my health card up to date in case an emergency happens.

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Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.

(no subject)

from: n3m3sis42
date: Aug. 13th, 2012 01:50 pm (UTC)
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This was an interesting way to convey your point. Have to admit, I'd rather read this than the original article.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 14th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :) I worried it would be too simplistic, so I'm glad it got the point across!

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