Once upon a time there was a street fair. Then the government created a Ministry of Street Fairs funded by taxing the produce sold at the street fair. At first the Ministry brought some some order to the street fair. But to justify its expansion, it would periodically launch new "street fair initiatives" paid for by higher taxes on the produce. The higher taxes are passed on to customers as higher produce prices and people stop shopping at the street fair.
The Ministry of Street Fairs realizes that people are shopping for their produce at supermarkets instead. And it demands that supermarkets also be classified as street fairs, and put under the jurisdiction and tax authority of the Ministry. A Bill is introduced, "The Supermarkets are now Street Fairs" bill, to put supermarkets under the Ministry's authority, and tax them at twice the rate of street fairs. Supporters of the bill denounce the evil "Supermarket Lobby" for profiteering at the expense of the starving children who need fresh fruit and the poor street fair sellers, who wish the Ministry would just go away. The bill passes. The Ministry is congratulated for its commitment to fighting for the right of everyone to buy fruit at vastly inflated prices.
Very few people shop for produce anymore because it has become far too expensive. Falling sales mean that merchants have to raise their prices even more to compensate for decreased sales volume. Many supermarkets and sellers go out of business, creating more unemployment and even fewer people who can afford fruit. Fruit growers and importers in turn go out of business or turn to other products. Fresh fruit becomes a luxury that only the very rich can afford.
The Ministry of Street Fairs responds by creating a "Fruit Dole" which entitles every child to one apple and pear a week. This dole comes once again at the expense of the fruit sellers, which raises the general price of fruit once again. Charismatic young politicians speak out demanding "Fruit for the People" and denouncing those who prevent the people from having access to fruit. The blames falls on the fruit sellers. A radical "Fruit People's Party" is created with a call to equal fruit for everyone.
The Ministry decides to regulate the price of fruit, setting an exact price at which fruit may be sold. The taxes on fruit sellers however remain just as high. Most of the fruit sellers go out of business. The few who remain in business, sell bad fruit at the mandated price to the public, while selling good fresh fruit under the table at much higher prices. Now everyone can afford fruit, but the only fruit they can buy is rotten and moldy.
Naturally the young politicians and the "Fruit People's Party" are unsatisfied. They demand to know why the only fruit available to the people is bad fruit. An investigation is launched and several of the sellers are arrested for covertly selling good fruit at much higher prices. The sellers are sentenced to jail, and a new Fruit Inspection Squad is launched to patrol the street fair and insure that no one sells fruit at higher prices. The Fruit Inspection Squad's salary is paid for by higher taxes on the fruit sellers. This forces the fruit sellers to begin covertly selling fruit that they would have once considered bad under the table. The remaining fruit that they sell to the public at the mandated low price is so rotten that it is completely inedible.
Within a few days, the Fruit Inspection Squad members have made arrangements with the fruit sellers to pocket fresh fruit for themselves and their families in exchange for looking the other way at their covert fruit sales. The same situation continues. Once again an outcry is launched, and more fruit sellers are arrested, along with members of the Fruit Inspection Squad. Lengthy jail sentences are handed out to everyone. A new Fruit Inspection Squad is appointed, with twice as many members. And additionally, a Fruit Secret Police is created composed of undercover agents who are tasked with rooting out corruption in the Fruit Inspection Squad.
All this new manpower comes with new taxes on the fruit sellers. The fruit sellers are no longer able to meet the demands of the taxes, and the bribes expected by both the Fruit Inspection Squad and the Fruit Secret Police to allow them to stay in business. Instead they go over their heads and suborn a few key members of the Ministry of Street Fairs with fresh fruit. The fruit sold at the street fair and in the supermarkets is now more rotten than ever and draws flies from miles around.
Politicians rise to denounce corruption in the Ministry of Street Fairs, and its Fruit Inspection Squad and Secret Fruit Police. A third round of investigations leads to the imprisonment of members of the Ministry. New Ministry members pledge their absolute devotion to the highest standards of ethics. Instead they collude with members of the Secret Fruit Police to create a secret fruit cartel which sells fresh fruit to the very rich at high prices. The Fruit Cartel extends its way up into the highest levels of the government.
The fruit at the street fair grows more rotten than ever. But the Fruit Dole is doubled to two apples and two pears a week. Which are worse than ever, as employees at the Ministry resell the fruit intended for the fruit dole. The cartel creates a thriving underground fruit market. Young boys throughout the city earn a few coins by whispering to passerby, "Hey Mister, would you like to buy some fruit."
The fruit cartel quickly transforms into organized crime. Rival fruit sellers engage in knife fights. A number of children are killed selling fruit. The public demands that the government do something. The government increases jail terms for illegal fruit sales and doubles the size of the Ministry's budget by doubling taxes on the fruit sellers. The fruit quality sold at the fair grows worse. No one shops there at all anymore. The fruit trade has moved into the back alleys.
The Ministry nationalizes the remaining fruit sellers and supermarkets, promising absolute control over all fruit sales. The government encourages people to grow fruit in their own backyards and cellars, for their own use-- which can be sold only after an expensive licensing and approvals process. This only increases the illegal fruit market, as many citizens begin growing fruit and reselling it on the black fruit market. The Fruit Cartel, enforced by the Secret Fruit Police attempts to control this market. Daily radio broadcasts denounce "Fruit Hoarders" and declare a "War on Backyard Fruit." Home fruit growing is banned, but nevertheless thrives.
The public outrage against crime, the high prices of illegal fruit and the low quality of legal fruit, combined with the Ministry's blatant corruption, motivate the people to support the Fruit People's Party's revolution. The entire government is shot. The Ministry of Street Fairs becomes the People's Ministry of Street Fairs, and promises an end to all corruption and "Fruit for Everyone".
As its first act, the People's Ministry turns to the fruit growers and importers and demands that they provide "Fruit for Everyone." The few fruit growers and importers who have not gone out of business, have gotten used to selling their fruit illegally and do not comply. The People's Ministry has them tried and executed. Their orchards and businesses are nationalized "In the Name of the People." The government sends out of work people who know nothing about growing fruit to work the orchards. A new "Golden Age of Fruit for Everyone" is declared.
The fruit orchards go mostly untended. The new workers know nothing about growing fruit. Their salaries are minimal. Their motivation is entirely absent. At the beginning of each growing season, the "People's Ministry of Street Fairs" proclaims a target number for the crop that they expect them to grow. The workers fail to meet that quota. The People's Secret Fruit Police accuses them of economic sabotage and has them executed. A new collection of workers takes their place.
After a few seasons of this, there is still no fruit. In fact there is less fruit than there ever was. The People's Ministry compensates for this by importing fruit from abroad which it distributes through the "Fruit Dole". What fresh fruit is grown, goes to the Ministry and the members of the Fruit People's Party, as well as the numerous members of the Fruit Inspection Bureaucracy that evaluates and weighs the produce for weight equality.
At the end of every harvest, the People's Fruit Propaganda Corps declares that under the wise leadership of the Fruit People's Party, with the insightful guidance of the members of the People's Ministry of Street Fairs, with the tireless efforts of the Fruit Inspection Bureaucracy, and through the hard dedicated labor of the Fruit Growers (those who hadn't been shot yet), the target for the fruit harvest has been both met and exceeded. Posters, television broadcasts and the radio constantly talk about the great number of ripe shining fruit that has been grown. Children are interviewed about how pleased they are to be living in the greatest country in the world where fruit is available to everyone on the Fruit Dole, whether or not they can pay for it.
As families go out for a night at the movies, the only film playing is the impassioned epic FRUIT HARVESTERS OF THE NORTHERN SLOPES, which depicts the struggle of brave fruit growers who battle the elements and greedy corrupt Fruit Gangsters. It took 2 years to film, and it is the first new movie to be released in six months. And the people are happy to have it. They don't remember that before the Ministry of Film-making was formed, several movies used to be released each week.
After the Newsreels which show the brave People's Army preparing to invade local fruit producing nations, whose "fruit hoarding aggression" threatens them, and members of the Fruit Inspection Squad rounding up seedy looking Fruit Gangsters, usually belonging to a minority ethnic group-- the main feature begins.
Even as the film tells the story of Peter, the brave fruit grower, who romances the beautiful daughter of Lovak, the fruit hoarder, who insists on growing and selling his own fruit, rather than working for the benefit of the people-- the audience pays little attention, focusing mainly on the shot after shot of gorgeous fruit orchards, their mouths salivating furiously at the sight.
At the end of movie, an official from the People's Fruit Party rises to proclaim that this year's fruit harvest has been the biggest and most tremendous harvest ever. Unfortunately, he says, the first priority of the People's Fruit Party must be to provide fruit to the starving children who go without fruit all the time. Which is why 90 percent of the harvest will go to a special Children's Fruit Dole, to be distributed to starving children, somewhere else. Somewhere they've never heard of.
The remaining fruit must be sold to the filthy Fruit Hoarders abroad in order to buy the weapons with which to equip the Fruit People's Army to protect the fruit orchards of Fruitania from those who seek to steal their fruit. He congratulates them for their dedication to the principles of Fruitism, and promises that with their continued hard work and effort, a day will come when everyone in the nation and around the world will have as much fruit as they want, when the World Fruitian Revolution comes.
The audience joins him in signing the revolutionary hymn, "Fruit of My Homeland", their voices rising with impassioned fervor on the verse, "The fruit of my homeland is the sweetest fruit of all. I will die for your orchards and perish for your pears. The fruit of my homeland is dearest to me." This is followed by a chorus of "Soldiers of Fruitania", "Workers of the Fruit Orchards" and "Death to the Fruit Hoarders".
They go home. The People's Party member to what he considers a lavish repast of a fresh pear. If he moves up in the party, he can expect to dine on many pieces of fruit a day. A few lucky audience members return to suppers of moldy fruit baked into pies that are mostly crust. Others have rice clumped into the shapes of pears, apples and grapes, covered in food coloring and glazed with sugar-- as a delicacy that they claim is almost as good as the real thing. Not that any of them have ever tasted a piece of fresh fruit in their lives. And never expect to.
The radio comes on automatically with a stirring broadcast from the Chairman of the People's Fruit Party who announces that the world revolution is now closer than ever. "The decadent Fruit Hoarders abroad are part of a decaying social and economic system that cannot last much longer. Their fruit hoarding has made them weak," he declares, "and ripe for takeover. They cannot conceive of sacrificing their fruits for others as we can. All they care about is their own personal profits. Soon their fruit orchards will be ours. And then they too will live just as we do."
The broadcast heard by millions of people who have never tasted a fresh piece of fruit closes with the revolutionary anthem, "Fruit for Everyone".
(Fortunately this is only a fairy tale that could never ever happen in real life. Still it might be worth remembering that when you kill the golden apple of the free market, all that's left is moldy pears. And that "Fruit for Everyone" usually means "Fruit for No One")