Ronald Reagan and the ‘Little Red Hen’

The following is the text from a radio message that Ronald Reagan gave in 1976. Reagan reworked the story of “The Little Red Hen” by putting it into a modern economic context. You can listen to it here.

It’s s relevant today as it was in 1976. In fact, it’s always relevant:

A modern day little red hen may not sound like or appear to be a quotable authority on economics but then some authorities aren't worth quoting. I'll be right back.

About a year ago I imposed a little poetry on you. It was called "The Incredible Bread Machine" and made a lot of sense with reference to matters economic. You didn't object too much so having gotten away with it once I'm going to try again. This is a little treatise on basic economics called "The Modern little Red Hen."

Once upon a time there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. She called her neighbors and said 'If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?'

"Not I, "said the cow.

"Not I," said the duck.

"Not I," said the pig.

"Not I," said the goose.

"Then I will," said the little red hen. And she did. The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. "Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.

"Not I," said the duck.

"Out of my classification," said the pig.

"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.

"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.

"Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.

At last the time came to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake bread?" asked the little red hen.

"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.

"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.

"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.

"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.

"Then I will," said the little red hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for the neighbors to see.

They all wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I can eat the five loaves myself."

"Excess profits," cried the cow.

"Capitalist leech," screamed the duck.

"I demand equal rights," yelled the goose.

And the pig just grunted.

And they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched round and around the little red hen shouting obscenities.

When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be greedy."

"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.

"Exactly," said the agent. "That's the wonderful free enterprise system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations productive workers must divide their products with the idle."

And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, I am grateful." But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread.



  • Screeminmeeme

    Excellent depiction of our system today.

    ''The Little Red Hen''  is a simple yet very good story that teaches kids a biblical principle that will carry them well throughout life if they heed it. :

    He who will not work....will not eat.  (2 Th 3:10)

    • John811c

       It is so unfortunate that so few ever read the bible for the wisdom it contains and the truth is always there never does it's teachings come back false, the ones who scoff at it from their socialist liberal backgrounds and education do so because the only way they can create their human utopia is to deny God and to get rid of the bible they try to create a utopia but man can not do this he does not know how. The very plan to do this is contained in the bible something they refuse to acknowledge or read.

      • Agilegrrrl

        God helps those who help themselves...Gov't helps those who REFUSE to help themselves...

        • dannyb278

          Funny, when i read the bible jesus said if you have two coats then to give one away. To take care of people who dont have what you have. You christians are such hipocrites.

    • fort9erdon

      For dems, there is no God, and no bible. Man will they be surprised when He returns. Then, all they can say is, ....OopS! Sorry, Oops, won't cut it with God. You democrats, who deny God,..... have you ever given any thought how long eternity is? Just think in a hundred trillion years, you ain't even got started yet!!!!

    • dannyb278

      If you have two coats than give one away. Do the same with your food. Thats from Luke you christian hypocrite

  • BobM001

    Obama to the "Little Red Hen", "YOU DIDN'T BAKE THAT BREAD!"

    • Kenmarx

      Greatest post!  Spot on!

  • Mark Ward

    Democrats AREN'T the Little Red Hen, THEY are Chicken Little - the SKY is ALWAYS FALLING for them!

    Republicans are Ractists!
    Republicans are Homophobes!
    Republicans are Sexists!
    Republicans are Religious Nuts!
    Republicans are Greedy!
    Republicans want Dirty Water and Dirty Air!
    Republicans have a "War on Women"
    Republicans want blacks "back in chains"!
    Republicans BELIEVE in the Constitution (INCLUDING the 1st and 2nd amendments)!
    Republicans want Senior Citizens to starve!

    Democrats have NOTHING positive to say about ANYTHING they stand for!

    • TM

       Distribute workers money to welfare trash and illegals
      Evil as the day is long
      Misguided a holes
      obama arse kissers
      Crazy as obama himself
      Rotten to the core
      Tax loving idiots
      Satan's workers

    • hibp

      It's really funny how many of my coworkers like me and how fair and honestly I manage...................they are mostly liberals.  I've frequently had people say, but you are so nice and fair!   Like I'm a conservative so I can't be nice and fair!   Actually I am MORE generous, and MORE fair than all of them to be honest.

      • beagal

         'Like I'm a conservative so I can't be nice and fair! Actually I am MORE generous, . . ."

         Statistically, conservatives are more generous in their donations. Just sayin'

  • Greta F. Rich

    No, Dems would have taken the loaves to Washington and then after eating all the best parts would have scraped the crumbs into a wee tiny baggy and dumped in the street for us to enjoy.  Elitist all.

  • OldvetUSN

    Well the  Elephants have had their convention, Next week it's time for the Jackasses to hold theirs.  One team has  nominated a Business man, The otghe will most likely rehire their "Chicago Community Organizer"  with his (currently unusable) Law degree. Isn't it time for a Businessman  to run the place if the "Business of Government is business...? Attoreneys just double talk everybody and send larger andf larger bills.  ENOUGH! 

    • el_loco_jp

      "Community Organizer"?  Is that anything like a "welfare pimp"?

  • PepperdotNet

    Ronald Reagan was a great man. A conservative outsider in 1976, if the Republican Party rules adopted this past week had ben in effect then, he would never have been nominated in 1980. Can you imagine an America where Reagan had not been President?

    • beagal

      "Ronald Reagan was a great man".
      Without a doubt! It must also be remembered that he switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party. That should say alot!!

  • deeme

    If Obama gets four more years, I think I know alot of red hens who are going to try to find somewhere else to bake...

  • The_American_Way

    Ronald Reagan was absolutely brilliant.  He had a way about him that I'm not sure that anyone will ever be able to match.

    With Obama constantly blaming successful people for not doing enough and with the Occupy Free Lunch Bunch picketing everywhere, the Little Red Hen story is most appropriate.

    Unfortunately, when I showed it to my liberal friend, they did not understand what Reagan was getting at.  Liberalism is definitely a brain disorder.

  • el_loco_jp

    Two Cubans were talking and one asked the other "What is Communism"?  The second Cuban replied, "If you had 2 houses and I had none, you'd give me one wouldn't you?"  The first replied, "I guess so".  The second then asked if you had 2 cars and I had none, you'd give me one wouldn't you?"  "I guess so".  And if you had 2 shirts and .....  "Hold on", cried the second Cuban.  "I actually have two shirts"!

  • dean