Long ago in the Kingdom of Beanlandia lived the good King Cyrus. Cyrus had ruled his kingdom for many years and was loved by all his people. Beanlandia was known far and wide for its fertile fields and the best beans grown anywhere. The farmers in Beanlandia could grow any kind of bean and the whole economy of the country was based on beans. As King, Cyrus owned everything but he always allowed his people to keep 10% of the beans to feed their families. The rest of the crops were kept in the beanery managed by the Ministry of Beans. The government employed literally hundreds of people to count the beans each day and keep an exact tally of who grew them, what kind, where they were stored and who they were exported to. These people were highly regarded and well paid and given the title of Benevolent Bean Counter.
This system worked fairly well for everyone except the farmers and their families, who did most of the hard work. Many times they asked for permission to sell some of their beans and keep the profits for themselves. The Bean Counters rejected this idea as absurd because they would not be able to count the beans they could not get their hands on. And if they couldn’t count the beans, how would they ever be able to produce the annual report that the King required at the end of the year? King Cyrus loved his annual bean report and made it available to all of his closest friends. His friends were wealthy individuals who made vast sums of money from trading his beans in the international bean market. Even in years when the harvest suffered from bad weather or insects the King and his friends made money by speculating on what the price of beans would be at some point in the future. This was referred to as, “Counting your beans before they are planted.” Unfortunately, in the bad years the farmers couldn’t grow enough to feed their families, after the King took his share.
Eventually King Cyrus suffered a stroke and was unable to perform his duties as King. He sent for his son, Jack, to return home and take over his responsibilities. Jack had been away from Beanlandia for years trying to make a name for himself, other than his inherited one. He came home to a land he barely recognized. The people were working as hard as ever but many of them couldn’t survive the cold winters. On the other hand, the Benevolent Bean Counters and the King’s friends seemed to be doing better than ever. Jack couldn’t help but wonder how his homeland had lost its way and he was determined to get to the root of the problem.
He went out among the people and asked for their help. They were reluctant to talk to him for fear their words would be used against them by the Ministry of Beans but some of them spoke very clearly. They had no incentive to work hard for something that would just be taken away from them by others who had done nothing. After hearing from the people, Jack went to the Ministry of Beans and called a meeting of all the Benevolent Bean Counters. He spent the rest of the day asking each one of them the same question, “What is your purpose?” One after another they gave the same answer, “To count the beans.” Upon hearing this response he said, “That is a function, not a purpose.” Then he fired each one of them until he got to the very last man, who had just been hired the day before. Yet again Jack asked, “What is your purpose?” The newest bean counter said, “To provide for others, like my family.” Hearing this, Jack stood up, shook the man’s hand and said, “Congratulations, you are now in charge of the Ministry of Beans.”
That same night King Cyrus died in his sleep and Jack became the new King. After all the ceremonies were held to honor his father’s passing, Jack began the difficult task of saving the kingdom. He called all of his father’s friends together to explain his new plan and gain their support. Jack stood before the aristocracy and declared, “Henceforth, the kingdom will only take 10% of the bean crop and the farmers shall keep the rest for their benefit.” The crowd groaned loudly and began to shout, “But we’ve always gotten 90% before, this won’t work!” Jack asked a simple question to the audience, “How much is 90% of nothing?” One man in the front eagerly exclaimed, “That’s nothing at all.” Jack calmly explained, “And that’s all you will get if we keep treating the people this way.” He continued, “I would rather have 10% of something than 90% of nothing so that’s how it has to be. Thank you all for coming.”
From that day forward the farmers worked harder than ever and the kingdom was wealthier than before. Eventually, the rich friends of the King asked for another audience with Jack. Their spokesman asked politely, “Sire, now that the harvests are so plentiful shouldn’t we go back to the old way of doing business?” Jack approached the group and smiled, “We are never going back to the old way but if any of you would like to plant your own beans and harvest them, you have my permission. Just don’t forget to pay me my 10%.” As he closed the door to the castle behind them he thought to himself, “What a bunch of weenies!”
The moral of this story, “Wherever there are beans, you will always find weenies.”
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.