Lessons from Halloween

Lessons from Halloween

For Halloween, Alan puts on a costume his brother handed down to him from last year. He pulls out a very used pumpkin bucket, and gets ready to head out.

The next street over, the Rockefellers are out on the front lawn taking pictures in this season’s hottest Halloween costumes. Shiny toy swords, and gleaming princess crown jewels glisten in the light.

Next door, James’ family doesn’t have the money to buy nice costumes like his neighbors have. “It’s not fair”, he says, “I wish we had money – my life sucks”. “Life isn’t fair”, he hears somewhere in the other room. “Obviously”, he says to himself. He decides he’s just going to stay home.

Down the street, Johnny’s family doesn’t have money for costumes either, but he learned from a book at the library how he could make costumes for less. He works hard on his costume – he cuts out sheets, paints his shoes, and even spray paints an old pair of gloves that he’s outgrown to match the rest of his outfit. When he looks in the mirror, there is no glistening from new plastics, but he looks pretty good! He’s proud of himself.

Alan decides he’s only going to trick or treat down his street and the next, but that’s it.

Johnny vows to hit every single house this year, even if the lights aren’t on – he’s gonna leave no stone unturned.

The Rockefellers walk down the street with a posse of friends and parents. They only go to the houses that are familiar to them.

At 7:30, the Rockefeller group turns back and heads home. The kids’ buckets are 1/4 full.

At 8:00 Alan finishes both streets, and heads back with half a bucket of candy.

At 8:58, Johnny looks at his watch. “I’ve got two minutes till cutoff!” He runs down the street to the last small house. He knocks on the door. A middle aged man answers and looks at the clock. “You made it just in time”, he says! “Trick or treat”, says Johnny in between breaths. “Take two giant handfuls”, says the man, “we barely had any visitors tonight, and we definitely don’t need these sweets laying around the house!” Johnny fits as much in each hand as possible and fills his Halloween bag to the top.

How would proponents of the three most prevalent economic systems treat this Halloween scenario?

Capitalism

Good choice. In our system, each child, including James, gets to keep all the candy they earned.

Crony Capitalism

Good choice. In our system, each child gets to keep the candy they earned, with one exception. Since the Rockefeller family is really good friends with the neighborhood’s president, he encouraged the president to set some new rules. This year, the president convinced all the homes in the neighborhood to donate the remaining candy to a central authority, him, who has vowed to pass it on to a local charity. At the end of the night, he has collected 5 more buckets full of candy. He gives 2 buckets to the Rockefeller kids, keeps 1 bucket for his own kids, and gives the remaining 2 buckets to charity. Everybody wins, right?

The man from the last small house at the end of the street is labeled a fat cat for giving out lavish bonuses to a select few. Johnny is labeled a greedy one percenter, and is shunned by his friends. The president of the neighborhood parades around for being charitable, and for cracking down on corruption.

Next year, Johnny decides not to go trick or treating. The man from the last small house at the end of the street decides he isn’t going to give any candy at all, and is brought up on charges for violating a clause in regulation 110 part 3, section c, which states that any home that decides not to buy candy is subject to search and seizure of any candy found within. His home is invaded, and he is thrown in jail for an old Mentos found in the couch cushions.

The Rockefellers release a press statement to the neighborhood about how the more fortunate should give a higher percentage for the “common good”, and commits to give an extra bucket of candy to charity next year. When next year comes, the president vows to crack down on any further violators, and once again, asks for remaining candy to be sent to charity. He receives 7 buckets of candy this year, and gives 3 to the Rockefellers 1 to himself, and 3 to charity, giving special emphasis to the extra bucket given this year.

Socialism

Good choice. In our system, each child, no matter how rich or poor, nor how much effort they have put into their costume or trick or treating, gets the same amount. Since this is the first year of our 5 year plan, all candy is collected by the elites of the neighborhood (Rockefellers and the President of the neighborhood). The candy is distributed evenly among all children, with one exception. Since the elites are the architects of this new fair system, they aren’t confined to its rules, and get to take a full bucket for each of their children first. At the end of the distribution, all children in the neighborhood get 1/4 bucket full of candy. The children, upset at getting such a small amount this year, vent their frustration, except for James and the Rockefellers. The elites then announce that it’s the fault of the greedy owners who must be hoarding candy. The elites take action and announce new rules for next year: All homes will receive their candy from the neighborhood association. The man from the last small house at the end of the street gets thrown in jail for giving his extra candy to Johnny. Johnny is labeled a greedy one percenter, and is shunned by his friends.

Next year, seeing how his extra effort still only gave him 1/4 bucket of candy, Johnny stays home. The elites have now grown in size to include a new Director of Candy Collection and a new Director of Candy Distribution. The elites take inventory of every home for candy, and once again, take a full bucket for each of their children, and then distribute the rest to the neighborhood kids. The kids trick or treat at the neighborhood social ministry building, each receive 1/4 bucket of candy. The elites, fearing another backlash, give thundering speeches about the evil one percenters who, should give more of their candy to the less fortunate. It is announced that next year, the elites plan to take full control of trick or treating altogether, and to force the one percenters like Alan and his family to give their fair share.

The following year, the elites have grown in size to include a new Director of Trick or Treating. The elites take a full bucket for themselves and distribute candy equally to every child except for more fortunate kids like Alan. Everyone gets 1/4 bucket full, except Alan, who gets 1/8. The children are upset at only 1/4 bucket after the promises of more. The children have lost confidence in the elites, and feel they are not competent to get things done. The elites, now desperate for results, authorize the President of the neighborhood with new powers, since he claims to have a plan.

Year 4, the President claims that it’s the families like Alan’s who have been hoarding candy and not contributing their fair share. He announces that all families like Alan’s will have their resources confiscated. Some families don’t agree with this plan, and begin to speak out. Alan’s family are decent people, they say. The President and his elites work together with the media sympathizers to silence these dissenters, and convince other neighbors that they are in bed with the one percenters. The elites add a Director of Misinformation and a Director of the Press. The elites each take a full bucket for their own kids, distribute the candy equally to all kids, except for those like Alan’s family and the dissenter families, who get no candy. Each child gets 1/4 bucket full. Children are dismayed. The elites are baffled by the results. They begin to talk about removing the President. The President hears the chatter and declares that there must be spies among the elites who are working for the dissenters. He assigns two new positions. The Director of Enforcement, and the Director of Intelligence.

Next year, the Elites collect all the candy and find that there is not enough candy for a full bucket for each of the elites. The President decides it must be the Director of Candy Collection who is the traitor. He has his candy confiscated and distributed. At the end of the 5 year plan, the candy is distributed equally among the children, who all receive 1/8 bucket full, with the following exceptions who receive none: Alan’s family, the dissenters, and the Director of Candy Collection. The elites still get a full bucket of candy for their children.

Dan Alexander

A full time engineer by trade, Dan is a conservative Christian, husband, father, and veteran. He considers himself a rebel against the dominant liberal culture.