Robin Hood sat beneath a tree reading a book on a crisp fall day in Sherwood Forest. Robin had always loved this time of year but he was particularly upbeat today. His reading material had clearly had an effect. At this moment, he was easily the merriest of his band of merry men.
Little John approached as Robin looked up from his book.
“Robin, dear friend. What are you reading, mate?” asked Little John.
“I’m glad you asked, mate. It’s a book titled Atlas Shrugged by a writer named Ayn Rand. Ever read it?” replied Robin.
“No, I have not, but what does it have to say?”
“Much. It has so much to say. Indeed, it has set your friend Robin’s mind to thinking. I implore you, Little John, cease what you are doing at this instant and commence reading it.”
“It must be a smashing read then.”
“Smashing, indeed, mate. It basically presents an ideal way to organize our society. Specifically, the protagonist John Gault, a fascinating fellow and philosopher and inventor, believes in the power and glory of the human mind and the right of the individual to use his or her mind solely for one’s own benefit.”
“Well, okay, I, uh, actually just came here to see if I could borrow some arrows, mate,” replied John, now confused. He had never heard Robin express himself this way.
“John, what we’ve been doing–stealing from the rich to give to the poor–let’s face it, it hasn’t been working, mate. The poor are as poor as they ever were.”
“That sounds true when said that way, but, if you consider how bad it would be for the poor without the benefit of taking from the rich, then they’re still better off with our assistance.”
“Are they? Because the way followers of Ayn Rand would see it, we’re enabling the poor by stealing for them and giving them…,” as Robin made air quotes, “handouts.”
“Handouts? Enabling? I beg to differ, Robin. Like I said, the poor would be worse off if we didn’t come to their assistance.”
“John, I don’t deny the veracity of your assertion as a pure assertion, mate. “
“However, you are missing the big picture. This book is showing me that the poor would be better off if they were forced to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”
“Um, well, can I have a few arrows or not?”
“I’m tempted not to give you the arrows. And, do you know why? It sure isn’t what John Galt would do. He wouldn’t sympathize with you. I found the sticks and sharpened the stone into the arrowheads. Therefore, shouldn’t the arrows be for mine own use and mine alone?”
“I guess I thought we were going to raid The Sheriff of Nottingham’s coach. It’s passing near the forest and we talked about it a few days ago–”
“Pursuing that raid now gives me great pause.”
“But, Robin, it’s easy pickings, mate.”
“Yes, however, if The Sheriff is smart enough to get all that gold, then shouldn’t he be allowed to enjoy it for himself? Isn’t that a more just society?”
“Robin Hood… taking the side of The Sheriff of Nottingham? I never thought I’d see the day. My ears must be lying. I thought we agreed that he’s a tyrant.”
“Ah, you know, he has tried to imprison and kill me too many times to count, but he’s not so bad… not when you understand how he got to be who he is. Because, maybe through our own hard work, we can all aspire to live as The Sheriff of Nottingham does.”
“Tell me you’re joshing, mate, because, that sounds like a ruse rich people would say so they don’t have to admit that they get too large a piece of a finite pie through collusion and corruption.”
“Ruse? Hardly, John. I fear I must say that you sound like someone who doesn’t want to work.”
“What? Don’t want to work? I’ve been by your side for fortnight after fortnight. I thought I was your most trusted confidant in helping the poor… and, surely, Robin, you’ll recall that The Sheriff gets the bulk of his money from incredibly high, unjust taxes.”
“Now, that’s where we agree, mate, which is why I’d like to sit down with The Sheriff and talk to him about abolishing the income tax and going to a sales tax.”
“A sales tax? That’s a regressive tax that disproportionately affects the poor since it’s not graduated for income–meaning, a rich fellow pays the same sales tax for a game hen that a peasant does.”
“Ah, yes, but that rich fellow worked harder for his money than the peasant.”
“And how are you coming to this conclusion?”
“The market speaks and we must listen. The rich fellow is rich due to his own labor.”
“Not if the rich fellow is the son of a nobleman!” replied John, heatedly.
“John, you’re missing the point. I’m talking about hard work being rewarded here.”
“You know what, Robin, I don’t want your arrows. Just don’t bother. I’ll raid the coach myself. And, to think, what would Friar Tuck say about all this?”
“Who do you think gave me the book?”
Robin grabbed a few arrows lying next to him and raised them to John.
“Here, take these, ” said Robin.
“I thought you ‘worked’ for them, ” replied Little john, giving sarcastic air quotes as he mockingly said the word “worked.”
“I did. But, this is where private charity steps in. We don’t need society as a whole to give the arrowless arrows. An individual can help if he wants to or not, and, in this case, I do.”
“That’s poppycock. You’re the biggest user of arrows in the whole forest. You are the recipient of most of the arrows we all make. But, when the little fellow wants an arrow the high and mighty Robin Hood deigns himself to give a ‘handout,'” said John, now going a bit overboard with the sarcastic air quotes.
“You’ve changed Robin Hood,” continued Little John as he brushed away Robin’s arrows and walked off.
Robin yelled at Little John as he walked off, “Indeed, I have changed, Little John. For the better!”
A moment later Friar Tuck approached Robin.
“Robin, I’m thinking of starting a think thank dedicated to advancing ideas that form a more ideal society, one that protects individual liberty and rewards hard work.”
“That’s a fine idea, Friar. The finest I’ve heard in some time. You know who’d be good to fund this think tank of yours?”
Then, at the same time, both Robin and Friar Tuck said, “The Sheriff of Nottingham.”
They shared a hearty laugh at their mutual trains of thought and then headed off to a part of Sherwood Forest that they had surrounded with a gate so that only a few had access to it. It was the first gated community in history.
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