04/18/2008 07:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Fable

Laconic, I'm not. Oh, I try, but get me started on politics, and how our proto-Fascistic overlords are trying to squeeze the last drops of worth from the working class as we blindly and passionately fight about God, gays, guns, and which millionaire we will elect to crush our dreams for the next four years, and a single sentence of mine can end up with more twists and turns than the Pacific Coast Highway on acid.

Anyway, right now I'm writing a play about politics in the plains states, kind of based on "What's the matter with Kansas," and I've been trying to find a succinct thesis of how I feel about the relationship between those hard working folks, and those who live off them. And when looking for concise stories it's always good to go to the experts. So I started reading Aesop - I know his agent, and have access to some of his unpublished work. Luckily, I found this lost fable:

The Farmer and the Worms.

Once upon a time there was a family of worms who toiled happily in an orchard. They tilled the earth, turned the soil, and all the trees grew strong and were heavy with fruit. And when the wind blew the worms nibbled on the fallen fruit and leaves that came to rest upon the ground. And each day the worms thanked the farmer who owned the orchard, who in turn thanked the Gods for the bounty. The farm had come to him from his father's father, and he did not know how to till and turn, or understand the work of the worms, but he did know how to make money. He'd grown fat eating the first fruits of the orchard, and had twelve golden buttons on his vest, bought with the money from twelve good harvests. One day, standing under a tree, he noticed the worms eating a piece of fruit on the ground. "If I could sell the fruit that falls," he thought "instead of leaving it for these worthless worms, I could afford another gold button for my vest." So he hung cloth from the branches and caught the fruit, sold it in town, and began dreaming of another bright button. The worms, however, without the fallen fruit soon grew hungry. " We have to leave the orchard," said the Chief of the Worms, " or we will starve." So the worms left their home and made their way to the woods. "Thank the Gods!" thought the Farmer.

A season later, after the worms had settled in, eating the the hard acorns and nuts of the woods, they heard heavy running steps. It was the Farmer, out of breath. "Some thing has gone wrong with the orchard! "he cried" The ground is hard, the roots are dry, and the fruit is withered! "Did you till the earth?" asked the worms. "I don't know how." said the Farmer. "Did you turn the soil?" asked the worms. "I don't know how." said the Farmer. "I see now that you were not worthless." he sobbed. "Will you return and make the orchard bountiful again?" "What of the fallen fruit?" asked the worms." You shall again have whatever is on the ground," answered the Farmer," and I shall take and sell the rest. It shall be as before." "No," said the worms. "Before you gathered the fruits of our labors to feed your luxury. We will not return for that." "What do you want?" asked the Farmer. The worms conferred. Finally they turned to him. "If we are the first to till the earth and first to turn the soil," answered the worms, "then it is only right that we should have first pick of the fruit." The farmer sagged. "But," he started. " Do not worry," said the worms, " We will leave enough for you, for selling the fruit is work, too. However your days of golden buttons are over."

Moral: Those who are most essential to creating something should benefit the most from it.

Now if it were up to me the worms would be bitterly clinging to guns and God, but I guess Aesop couldn't figure out how to squeeze that in. Slacker.