The Farm Parable

Nightmare on Main Street
JT Hilltop

Somewhere in Kansas there was five farms of equal size, with equal crop output. Farmer’s ABCD and E. They were all family owned and operated farms an all enjoyed a happy and fruitful life. They worked hard all day and always had food on the table, clothes on their backs, small luxuries for entertainments, and found extra money for some of the modern appliances for a growing culture. They each sold all their crops at fair prices because the competition kept them honest. For three generations all five families thrived. But on the fourth generation, farmer A had a son that didn’t want to work so hard in fields and he forged a plan. He went to Farmer B with a proposition. He told farmer B that if they could put the two farms together, and call it Farm AB, they could tend to the fields with less farmhands and save them both money. Eventually we could have others working the fields and we would have more crops and more money. Of course this appealed to farmer B so no need to give it any thought. A partnership was born.
Over the next year, the two farms combined land and were able to increase the crop output. Not only that, they were able to let go of two farmhands each as the chores got shared. But farmer A’s son was still not satisfied. He had another plan in mind. He went back to farmer B and said to him, “You know, if we could sell our crops a little cheaper we could sell to farmer C’s buyer and not have to take the extra crops so far. Once we have him as a buyer we can raise the prices back up again.” This time farmer B wasn’t as enthusiastic but farmer A’s son was very convincing and he finally relented. They lowered their prices and as he predicted they sold their crops to farmer C’s buyer. Of course as a result, farmer C ha to travel much further to sell his crops and it became much too costly. Farmer C was struggling something awful, and he had to let 2 farmhands go and double up on his own work. After two seasons, farmer C was feeling weak and tired and the family was struggling to get by.
Now farmer A’s son sensed another opportunity so he went to farmer C an offered to pay off all his debts, and relieve him of all his problems by purchasing his farm. Farmer C was becoming frail and his family was not eating as well as they once had, but the farm was all he had and it had been in the family as long as he could remember. Farmer A’s son had already prepared for this problem and he had a solution. “Look farmer C, you can keep your house, and we will hire you in our much bigger farm. You will have a sure income for your family, a place to live, and you will never have to work as hard a you do now ever again.” Farmer C relented, and soon there were only three farms, farm AB, farm D and farm E
Now farmers D and E could see what was going on. They got together an agreed that neither would ever sell the farm, and if they both stayed strong they would always have their own farms and not become part of farm AB. No matter how farmer A’s son tried, he could not break either farm. He gave them both substantial offers to buy them out, he sold his crops at lower prices, he offered their workers jobs which many took, causing hardships on both farms. He’d offer them higher pay, an after a few months laid them off, leaving the farmhands out of work and farms D and E overworked and tired. But as agreed, both farmers held strong and waited out the bad times. Farmer A’s son was producing more crops than ever, and was doing it with less farmhands because the three farms combined could be run more efficiently and less farmhands were needed. The town was now becoming filled with out of work farmhands who were becoming more and more desperate as time went by. Crime rate in town began to grow out of control as morale of the townspeople plummeted. As a result taxes went up as the need for a larger police force became immanent.
Farmer B was beginning to regret his decision as he saw his one time friends having a harder and harder time of it. He saw how they were struggling and he saw farmer C become nothing more than a farmhand himself. A dejected and frail farmer doing his best to keep his family together, as hi children moved out one by one to find a better life. He now began to see farmer A’s son for what he was. A greedy and underhanded viper that could care less about anyone else. Had he made a pact with the devil? Farmer B was sure farmer A’s son would run him out of town at first chance.
The prophecy didn’t take long. With Farmers D an E holding firm and keeping up the pressure, Farmer A’s son began to recruit some of the foreman on the farm. Offering the promise of a raise they agreed to help force farmer B out of the picture by making his efforts seem unworthy. They sabotaged his part of the farm and let everything look bad for farmer B. Having hired a good lawyer who set up a nefarious contract agreement Farmer B soon lost all his rights in the companies decisions. Now farm AB was essentially run by farmer A’s son and farmer B had become just like farmer C, nothing more than a farmhand on his own farm.
Farmers D an E continued working hard and remained resolute in their promise to each other not to cave in to farmer A’s sons antics. He used his under pricing games forcing them to travel twice as far to sell their crops, he lured away the best and hardest workers from the farms with better pay, and he hired local out of work thugs to destroy portions of their crops. He did everything else in his power to make the remaining farms struggle as much as possible. Farmers D and E remained strong until one fateful day. While out in his field, farmer E experienced a heart attack. Not having any emergency services nearby he died before he ever got to the hospital. Farmer D of course did all he could to help his friends wife and family. Most of the town viewed this as a horrible tragedy. Framer A’s son however viewed it as an opportunity. He put pressure on farmer E’s wife and two very young sons to sell their farm. Unable to maintain the farm the recent widow collapsed under her grief and sold off the family farm. Now Farmer A’s son had Farm AB, which include the land and all the crops of farms A, B, C, and E. Farmer D worked his field hard and struggled but no matter how bad it got farmer A’s son never gave him a second glance. No offer to buy out, no tricks to force him out of business, farmer A’s son merely concentrated on maximizing his own profits and minimizing his costs by laying off more workers and purchasing in bulk. He knew it would only be a matter of time and he could get the farm for a song.
His big chance came the next season. An unusually hot and dry season created tremendous hardship for the farms. Nearing a major drought farmer A’s son shipped in truckloads of water to irrigate his crops but farmer D could not afford to have water shipped. Reluctantly, with his entire crop in danger, he went to farmer A’s son to ask him if he could purchase some of the water an pay him for shipping after his crops are harvested and he had the cash. Farmer A’s son seized his opportunity. “I will not sell you any water, but here’s what I will do. I will give you an offer to purchase your farm from you.” Farmer D had no intention of selling and the offer was actually insulting. Half what the farm was worth and barely enough money for him to move his family away. He refused the offer an headed back to his farm.
Unable to grow anything, the farmhands began getting nervous and started looking for work elsewhere. Many left the state and headed west to look for work. Farmer D could only watch as his family farm as it literally deteriorated into the ground. The banks were unwilling to lend him anymore money and expressed concerns of the loan he already had. At the end of the season, the farm did not yield a single crop, and the bank came to foreclose his farm. Broke, tired, and dejected farmer D felt he had two choices. Either he could take his own life, or he could join the farmhands that had left town and go in search of work. He chose to live because of his family, so they packed up and headed west. But there was one person who did decide to end his own life. Farmer B was so distraught watching what happened to his one time friends and neighbors families and despised himself for his role in their demise so vehemently that he hung himself in one of the many barns.
Now farmer A’s son owned farms ABC and E outright and was able to purchase farm D from the bank for even less than his original offer. Farms ABCD and E, were now Amalgamated Farms of Kansas. Farmer A’s son had achieved the modern American dream, to become the riches person in town. He had trampled over many people to get there, but they are insignificant pawns that needed to be played to in order to achieve the goal. The victory tasted very good to farmer A’ son. So good in fact that he felt it would be possible to either find farms with different crops an do the same thing there, or maybe find something other than farming he could manipulate and take over ownership of. He wanted it all, more and more and more. He could not get enough possessions to satisfy his unyielding greed. Maybe farm tool stores. He could build large farm tool stores and sell tools cheaper than the smaller ones. Maybe sell lumber an other farm needs as well, putting other small companies out of business. The possibilities seemed endless.
Farmer A’s son was very astute and he soon realized if he could own influential people in town he could more easily manipulate the markets in his favor. He backed the right politicians and showered them with monetary support, and created relationships forged in greed with the biggest bankers. It wasn’t long before farmer A’s son owned and ran over half of the businesses in the area. You may say he has achieved the American Dream, but to me it seems as though he has created the American Nightmare. Sleep well!

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