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Tom Smith & His Incredible Bread Machine

 

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(This is the story, of course, of that incredible bread machine, capitalism)

 

Tom Smith and His Incredible Bread Machine

Part I

This is the legend of a man whose name

Was a household word: a man whose fame

Burst on the world like an atom bomb.

Smith was his last name; first name: Tom.

 

The argument goes on today.

"He was a villain," some will say.

"No! A hero!" others declare.

Or was he both? Well, I despair;

The fight will last 'til kingdom come;

Was Smith a hero? Or was Smith a bum?

So, listen to the story and it's up to you

To decide for yourself as to which is true!

 

Now, Smith, an inventor, had specialized

In toys. So people were surprised

When they found that he instead

Of making toys, was baking bread!

The news was flashed by CBS

Of his incredible success.

Then NBC jumped in in force,

Followed by the Times, of course.

The reason for their rapt attention,

The nature of his new invention,

The way to make bread he'd conceived

Cost less than people could believe!

And not just make it! This device

Could in addition wrap and slice!

The price per loaf, one loaf or many:

The miniscule sum of under one penny!

 

Can you imagine what this meant?

Can you comprehend the consequent?

The first time yet the world well fed!

And all because of Tom Smith's bread!

 

Not the last to see the repercussions

Were the Red Chinese, and, of course, the Russians,

For Capitalist bread in such array

 

Threw the whole red block into black dismay!

Nonetheless, the world soon found

That bread was plentiful the world around.

Thanks to Smith and all that bread,

A grateful world was at last well fed!

 

But isn't it a wondrous thing

How quickly fame is flown?

Smith, the hero of today

Tomorrow, scarcely known!

Yes, the fickle years passed by.

Smith was a billionaire.

 

But Smith himself was now forgot,

Though bread was everywhere.

People, asked from where it came,

Would very seldom know.

 

They would simply eat and ask,

'Was not it always so?"

 

However, Smith cared not a bit,

For millions ate his bread,

And "Everything is fine," thought he.

"I'm rich and they are fed!"

 

Everything was fine, he thought?

He reckoned not with fate.

Note the sequence of events

Starting on the date

On which inflation took its toll,

And to a slight extent,

The price on every loaf increased:

It went to one full cent!

 

A sharp reaction quickly came.

People were concerned.

White House aide expressed dismay.

Then the nation learned

That Russia lodged a sharp protest.

India did the same.

"Exploitation of the Poor!"

Yet, who was there to blame?

 

And though the clamor ebbed and flowed,

All that Tom would say

Was that it was but foolish talk.

Which soon would die away.

And it appeared that he was right.

Though on and on it ran,

The argument went 'round and 'round

But stopped where it began.

 

There it stopped, and people cried,

"For heaven's sake, we can't decide!

It's relative! Beyond dispute,

There's no such thing as 'absolute'!

And though we try with all our might,

Since nothing's ever black or white,

All that we can finally say is

'Everything one shade of grey is'!"

So people cried out, "Give us light!

We can't tell what's wrong from right!"

 

To comprehend confusion,

We seek wisdom at its source.

To whom, then did the people turn?

The Intellectuals, of course!

 

And what could be a better time

For them to take the lead,

Than at their International Conference

On Inhumanity and Greed.

For at this weighty conference,

Once each year we face

The moral conscience of the world?/span>

Concentrated in one place.

 

At that mighty conference were

A thousand, more or less,

Of intellectuals and bureaucrats,

And those who write the press.

And from Yale and Harvard

The professors; all aware

The fate of Smith would now be known.

Excitement filled the air!

 

"The time has come," the chairman said

"To speak of many things:

Of duty, bread and selfishness,

And the evil that it brings.

For, speaking thus we can amend

That irony of fate

That gives to unenlightened minds

The power to create.

 

"Since reason tells us that it can't,

Therefore let us start

Not by thinking with the mind,

But only with the heart!

Since we believe in people, then,"

At last the chairman said,

'We must meet our obligation

To see that they are fed!"

 

And so it went, one by one,

Denouncing private greed;

Denouncing those who'd profit thus

From other people's need!

 

Then, suddenly each breath was held,

For there was none more wise

Than the nation's foremost Pundit

Who now rose to summarize:

 

"My friends," he said, (they all exhaled)

'We see in these events

The flouting of the Higher Law?/span>

And its consequence.

We must again remind ourselves

Just why mankind is cursed:

Because we fail to realize

Society comes first!

 

"Smith placed himself above the group

To profit from his brothers.

He failed to see the Greater Good,

Is Service, friends, to Others!"

 

With boldness and with vision, then,

They ratified the motion

To dedicate to all mankind

Smith's bread-and their devotion!

 

The conference finally ended.

It had been a huge success.

The intellectuals had spoken.

Now others did the rest.

 

The professors joined in all the fuss,

And one was heard to lecture thus:

(For clarity, he spoke in terms

Of Mother Nature, birds and worms):

 

"That early birds should get the worm

Is clearly quite unfair.

Wouldn't it much nicer be

If all of them would share?

But selfishness and private greed

Seem part of nature's plan,

Which Mother Nature has decreed

For bird. But also Man?

The system which I question now,

As you are well aware,

(I'm sure you've heard the term before

 Is Business, Laissez-Faire!

 

"So students, let me finally say

That we must find a nobler way.

So, let us fix the race that all

May finish side-by-side;

The playing field forever flat,

The score forever tied.

To achieve this end, of course,

We turn to government-and force.

So, if we have to bring Smith do

As indeed we should,

I'm sure you will agree with me,

It's for the Greater Good!"

 

Comments in the nation's press

Now scorned Smith and his plunder:

'What right had he to get so rich

On other people's hunger?"

A prize cartoon depicted Smith

With fat and drooping jowls

Snatching bread from hungry babes,

Indifferent to their howls.

 

One night, a TV star cried out,

"Forgive me if I stumble,

But I don't think, I kid you not,

That Smith is very humble!"

Growing bolder, he leaped up,

(Silencing the cheers)

"Humility!" he cried to all?/span>

And then collapsed in tears!

 

The clamor rises all about;

Now hear the politician shout:

'What's Smith done, so rich to be?

Why should Smith have more than thee?

So, down with Smith and all his greed;

I'll protect your right to need!"

 

Then Tom found to his dismay

That certain businessmen would say,

''The people now should realize

It's time to cut Smith down to size,

For he's betrayed his public trust

(And taken all that bread from us!)"

 

Well, since the Public does come first,

It could not be denied

That in matters such as this,

The public must decide.

So, SEC became concerned,

And told the press what it had learned:

"It's obvious that he's guilty

—Of what we're not aware?/span>

Though actually and factually

We're sure there's something there!"

 

And Antitrust now took a hand.

Of course it was appalled

At what it found was going on.

The "bread trust" it was called.

 

"Smith has too much crust,"

they said. "A deplorable condition

That Robber Barons profit thus

From cutthroat competition!"

 

WELL!

 

This was getting serious!

So Smith felt that he must

Have a friendly interview

With SEC and 'Trust.

So, hat in hand, he went to them.

They'd surely been misled;

No rule of law had he defied.

But then their lawyer said:

 

"The rule of law, in complex times,

Has proved itself deficient.

We much prefer the rule of men.

It's vastly more efficient.

 

"So, nutshell-wise, the way it is,

The law is what we say it is!

 

"So, let me state the present rules,"

The lawyer then went on,

"These very simple guidelines

You can rely upon:

You're gouging on your prices

If you charge more than the rest.

But it's unfair competition

If you think you can charge less!

 

"A second point that we would make,

To help avoid confusion:

Don't try to charge the same amount,

For that would be collusion!

 

''You must compete—but not too much.

For if you do, you see,

Then the market would be yours?/span>

And that's monopoly!

Oh, don't dare monopolize!

We'd raise an awful fuss,

For that's the greatest crime of all!

(Unless it's done by us!)"

 

"I think I understand," said Tom.

"And yet, before I go,

How does one get a job like yours?

I'd really like to know!"

 

The lawyer rose then with a smile;

"I'm glad you asked," said he.

"I'll tell you how I got my start

And how it came to be."

 

(His secretaries gathered 'round

As their boss did thus expound.)

 

'When I was a lad going off to school,

I was always guided by this golden rule:

Let others take the lead in things, for heaven's sake,

So if things go wrong-why, then it's their mistake!"

(So if things go wrong-why, then it's their mistake!)

 

"Following this precept it came to pass

I became the president of my senior class.

Then on to college where my profs extolled

The very same theory from the very same mold!"

(The very same theory from the very same mold!)

 

"Let others take the chances, and I would go along.

Then I would let them know where they all went wrong!

So successful was my system that then indeed,

I was voted most likely in my class to succeed!"

(He was voted most likely in his class to succeed!)

 

"Then out into the world I went, along with all the rest,

Where I put my golden rule to the ultimate test.

I avoided all of commerce at whatever the cost?

And because I never ventured, then I also never lost!"

(And because he never ventured, then he also never lost!)

 

'With this unblemished record then, I quickly caught the eye

Of some influential people 'mongst the powers on high.

 

And so these many years among the mighty I have sat,

Having found my niche as a bureaucrat!"

(Having found his niche as a bureaucrat')

 

"To be a merchant prince has never been my goal,

For I'm qualified to play a more important role:

Since I've never failed in business, this of course assures

That I'm qualified beyond dispute to now run yours!'

(That he's qualified beyond dispute to now run yours!)

 

"Thanks; that clears it up," said Tom.

 

The lawyer said, "I'm glad!

We try to serve the public good.

We're really not so bad!

 

"Now, in disposing of this case,

If you wish to know just how,

Go up to the seventh floor;

We're finalizing now!"

 

So, Tom went to the conference room

Up on the seventh floor.

He raised his hand, about to knock,

He raised it—but no more?

For what he overheard within

Kept him outside the door!

A sentence here, a sentence there?/span>

Every other word?

He couldn't make it out (he hoped),

For this is what he heard:

 

"Mumble, mumble, let's not fumble!

Mumble, mumble, what's the charge?

Grumble, grumble, he's not humble?

Private greed? Or good of all?

 

"Public Interest, Rah! Rah! Rah!

Business, Business, Bah! Bah! Bah!

 

"Say, now this now we confess

That now this now is a mess!

Well now, what now do we guess?

Discharge? Which charge would be best?

 

"How 'bout 'Greed and Selfishness'?

Oh, wouldn't that be fun?

It's vague enough to trip him up

No matter what he's done!

 

'We don't produce or build a thing!

But before we're through,

We allow that now we'll show Smith how

We handle those who do!

 

'We serve the public interest;

We make up our own laws;

Oh, golly gee, how selflessly

We serve the public cause!

 

"For we're the ones who make the rules

At 'Trust and SEC,

So bye and bye we'll get that guy;

Now, what charge will it be?

 

"Price too high? Or price too low?

Now, which charge will we make?

Well, we're not loath to charging both

When public good's at stake!

 

"But can we go one better?

How 'bout monopoly?

No muss, no fuss, oh clever us!

Right-O! Let's charge all three!

 

"But why stop here? We have one more!

Insider Trading! Number four!

We've not troubled to define

This crime in any way so,

This allows the courts to find

Him guilty 'cause we say so!"

 

So, that was the indictment.

Smith's trial soon began.

It was a cause célèbre

Which was followed' cross the land.

In his defense Tom only said,

"I'm rich, but all of you are fed!

Is that bargain so unjust

That I should now be punished thus?"

 

Tom fought it hard all the way.

But it didn't help him win.

The jury took but half an hour

To bring this verdict in:

 

"Guilty! Guilty! We agree!

He's guilty of this plunder!

He had no right to get so rich

On other people's hunger!"

 

"Five years in jail!" the judge then said.

"You're lucky it's not worse!

Robber Barons must be taught

Society Comes First!

As flies to wanton boys," he leered,

"Are we to men like these!

They exploit us for their sport!

Exploit us as they please!"

 

The sentence seemed a bit severe,

But mercy was extended.

In deference to his mother's pleas,

One year was suspended.

 

And what about the Bread Machine?

Tom Smith's little friend?

Broken up and sold for scrap.

Some win. Some lose. The end.

 

EPILOGUE

 

Now, bread is baked by government.

And as might be expected,

Everything is well controlled?

The public well protected.

 

True, loaves cost ten dollars each.

But our leaders do their best.

The selling price is half a cent.

Taxes pay the rest!

 

end of part I

 

 

In Part II, not included here, the narrator debates the issues of capitalism with his excitable friend, Jack. As Jack sees it, the status quo is pretty much OK:

 

"If one needs what others earn,

No longer need one steal it!

Government now does the job,

And people hardly feel it!"

 

But in the end, Jack is mugged by reality.

 

Parts I & II from R. W. Grant's Tom Smith and His Incredible Bread Machine (Manhattan Beach, Calif.: Quandary House, 1978).

 

I strongly recommend The Incredible Bread Machine A Study of Capitalism, Freedom, and the State Second Edition by R.W. Grant Revised and Expanded, published by Fox & Wilkes.

Amazon.com

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