Once upon a time, there were five young men…

Who all grew up together in the same neighborhood: Al, Bob, Chuck, Dave and Ed. 

As they reached early adulthood, one spring they decided together to venture out and homestead a beautiful, uninhabited valley miles and miles away from home.  A small river ran through the new valley, so when they arrived, they staked out five equal parcels fronting the river and helped each other to build fences and dwellings.

As best friends, it was only natural that they would help protect each other’s lives, liberty, and property against any dangers that might crop up in the future.  As time passed, each man married and began raising a family, and they all helped each other expand their houses to meet their needs.

The five friends diligently worked their homesteads, carrying out their plans to live off the products and services they felt most capable of doing.  Al managed cattle and dairy cows, Bob raised sheep, Chuck grew wheat and corn, Dave freelanced carpentry and Ed tried a little of everything, as each friend worked their chosen specialties.  It was hard labor, but after a few years, they reaped the benefits of their efforts by trading goods and services with each other and the nearby settlements.

As time passed and the vicinity grew more populous, Al’s cattle and dairy production became very successful, and while the other four friends were getting along well enough, it was Al who vastly expanded his herd and even leased unused land from Bob and Ed as new range.

One early autumn day, as Dave was building a house miles away, he fell off the roof and injured his back.  The doctor said that if Dave remained bedridden and gave his body time to heal, he would probably be better by the next spring.  His four friends immediately rushed together and met the needs of Dave and his family, by giving them enough money and food to get them through the oncoming winter.

As spring arrived, Dave was still suffering back pain and unable to work.  His four friends realized that they would have to continue supporting Dave and family, but only Al was able to contribute very much.  A couple of weeks later, as Al was chasing a stray on Dave’s land, he spotted Dave playing outside with one of his children.  Al was incensed but said nothing to Dave at the time.

Soon thereafter, Bob and Chuck showed up at Al’s house to ask him to contribute more to Dave, since he still was badly injured.  Al refused and told them what he had seen, but Chuck replied that he had just been over to check on Dave and he was still bedridden.  Al told them that as long as Dave was able to work, he would not help him anymore.

Bob and Chuck got angry at Al, firmly stating that Dave would not deceive them, and insisted that Al continue to give Dave whatever he needed since he was the only one with enough excess that could.  When Al again refused, Bob screamed that Dave was their friend and his family would suffer if Al did not help him.  Al refused for the third time and Bob and Chuck left, threatening to “do something about it.”

That evening, Bob and Chuck returned with the county sheriff, who admonished Al for not wanting to help Dave.  Exasperated, Al told the three to get off his property, and the sheriff got irate and attempted to arrest Al, who fought back by hitting the sheriff.  The three men then restrained Al and locked him up, much to the shock of his family.

The next day, the news spread that Al, one of the richest men in the county, was a selfish jerk because he would not share his wealth with one of his best friends who was seriously injured in an accident and in financial need.  Most people were angry that Al would act that way, and there was talk of taking his herd and selling it off to help Dave and other poor people.

In fact, it was decided that the richest people in the county would have to help everyone else, otherwise be incarcerated.  A list of the richest people was printed in the newspaper, and those people were encouraged to report how much they had given to poor people, to make sure they were contributing their “fair share”.  Some of the rich protested, but they were in the minority, and their voices were overwhelmed by the majority.

Meanwhile, Al was finally released from jail months later, and returned to his home to find his herd lost and his family impoverished.  The only friend he had left was Ed, who had tried to defend him, but was roundly ignored.  Instead of helping to protect Al’s life, liberty and property, as originally agreed, Bob, Chuck and Dave had Al’s liberty taken and his property plundered, all by the will of the majority.

Bob and Chuck congratulated each other for being so caring for the poor, and not letting the rich people get away with anything.  After all, good people should help each other in times of need, right?