Dividing The Spoils
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A RICH Man, a Poor Man, a Beggar Man, and a Thief decided to do business as a partnership, instead of competing as before. They were to share the profits, and none of them being very good at arithmetic they agreed to divide on economic lines.
The Beggar Man said: "I will have the interest for my share. I can get a banking act passed, so that we shall have the money to trade with; and I will do the lending." The Rich Man said: "I will have the rent for my share. I can get a grant of land, so we shall have the place to work on; and I will do the collecting." "And I will have the wages for my share," said the Poor Man. "I can get nothing else, so we will have the product; and I will do the working." "And what shall I take?" asked the Thief. "You can take notice," said the Beggar Man." Or you can take a back seat," said the Rich Man. "Or you can take yourself off," said the Poor Man.
"No, I can arrange it better than that," said the Thief "If the firm can't steal, it will fail in business. I will take all that is made out of Monopolies for my share. I can scheme to get subsidies, and I will do the thinking." The Poor Man whispered, "We haven't any monopoly." So the Beggar Man said, "That's all right." And the Rich Man added, "He can build a lunatic asylum with his share." They all agreed accordingly, and opened a commission house.
"I will take a rest," said the Landlord Man. "I'll get my rent in just as well."
"I will take a vacation," said the Capitalist Man." I'll get my interest all the same."
"I will take my time," said the Thief. "I'll get there just as well."
"And I will take a tonic," said the Labouring Man. "I'll get small pay on pay-days all the same."
When they came to wind up, they quarrelled so about the division that they called in an economic accountant to be the Judge.
The Rich Man said: "My rent is the same that the adjoining land brings in. It's easy to determine that." "Yes," said the Judge Economist, "the rent is easily fixed, but two-thirds of it is monopoly rent: that goes to your partner, the Thief." "The interest is 6 per cent. for me," observed the Beggar Man; "that's easily figured." "Interest is nearly all due to monopoly;" interposed the Judge; "but we might concede you 1 per cent." "My wages," said the Poor Man, "should be calculated on the trades-union scale." "You've had a living," said the Judge; "and that's what wages tend to, that's easily understood. Anyhow, that's all there's left." "I'm left myself," the Labourer said. "The Labourer is right for once," the Rich Man said. "I have been there myself," the Beggar Man remarked.
"I accept my award," returned the Thief, "though it ought to have been more."