There once was a kingdom ruled by a king who wanted, above everything else, to be loved by his people. So he borrowed and borrowed loads of gold and distributed it throughout the kingdom. Everybody got some, and all were happy and shouted “Don’t we have a wonderful king!” Some used the gold to start blacksmiths and bakeries, selling bread and pots and horseshoes of the highest quality to all, and made much more gold as they sold their goods, and built fine houses for themselves.
Suddenly, the king discovered that he could not borrow any more gold, and that, in fact, they would have to pay it back.
There was outrage in the land, and people pointed fingers at the king. Many claimed that they had not received any gold at all, and that others had gotten more gold because the king favoured them.
“We must rise up!” Shouted a young nobleman, Richard of the Red Flag, or Red Richard as he was known. Great crowds gathered around Richard, so big that the king fled the kingdom and Red Richard was pronounced The People’s King.
“We need gold!” The people cried.
Richard approached the other kingdoms that had lent the old king the gold.
“Lend us Gold!” He demanded.
“We did. And you have not paid us back.” They replied.
“But that was the old king. That’s nothing to do with us.” Said Richard, but they weren’t having any of it.
He returned to the kingdom empty-handed.
“We need gold!” The people cried, a bit louder this time.
Richard looked around the kingdom for gold. Who had it? The bakers and the blacksmiths!
“You must give us your gold! It is not fair that you have more gold than anyone else.” He demanded.
“But we bake bread and make pots to sell to people.” They said.
“That’s neither here nor there. I’m confiscating your gold, so that it can be shared amongst all equally!”
The people cheered. The bakers and blacksmiths booed.
With that, they packed up their belongings and left the kingdom.
The king distributed the gold.
“But who shall bake the bread?” The people asked.
“The people shall! It shall be the people’s bakery!” The king announced, and there were cheers.
The following morning, the king posted a list of who shall work in the bakery. Everybody would share the task, and so it began. But some citizens did not bake bread very well. And others got up later than they should, and others still did not like bread and wanted to work on their farms. The bakery did not make enough bread for all, and people had to buy bread from traders from other kingdoms at much higher prices, so Richard decided that he would pay people to be the people’s bakers. But as he had no gold, he had to raise the price of bread to pay for bakers.
This worked for a while, and the bakers made enough bread, until the bakers approached the king and said “This is hard work. We have to rise earlier than anyone else to mill the flour and bake the bread, so we should get an Unsociable Hours Allowance. The king agreed, and raised the price of bread to pay for it.
A week later, the bakers spoke to the king again.
“It’s not fair.” They said. “We work harder than anyone else. We should be able to retire earlier.”
Richard thought about this, and agreed. It was only fair. So he raised the price of bread again to pay for their pensions.
Then a farmer, noting the rising cost of bread, announced that he could make bread cheaper, and began selling cheaper bread.
Richard was horrified to discover that the people’s bakery was losing money, and so banned the farmer from baking bread. So the farmer decided to open a bakery across the border, in another kingdom, outside of Richard’s reign.
The bakers protested to Richard.
“We cannot be expected to take less money for the bread, just because he can make it cheaper.”
Richard agreed, and hired a group of militiamen to form a Bread Patrol, to prevent people bringing in bread from outside the kingdom. Of course, once again he had to raise the price of bread to pay for The Bread Patrol. This made bread so expensive that now, all over the kingdom, farmers were secretly baking and selling bread cheaper than the people’s bakery, and making plenty of gold doing it.
Richard hired more and more militiamen to form bread patrols to close down the illegal bakeries, but there were too many, and as he had to raise the price of bread to pay for the extra militiamen, even the bread patrol could not afford to buy enough people’s bakery bread. So instead, when they raided bakeries, the bakers would pay them off. In bread.
Suddenly, there was so many bakeries making bread that Richard could not afford to pay the people’s bakers, who went on strike. But nobody noticed, as everyone was buying their bread from the secret bakeries.
Soon, the secret bakers were getting very wealthy, and the people were once again demanding more gold.
Richard, looking at the rich bakers, had an idea. He would confiscate their gold!