The Incredible Bread Machine

By R.W. Grant

This is the story of a man whose name
Was a household word: a man whose fame
Burst on the world like an atom bomb;
Smith was his last name; first name Tom.

Now, Smith, an inventor, had specialized
In toys, so people were surprized,
When they found that he instead
Of making toys, was BAKING BREAD!

The way to make bread he'd conceived
Cost less than people could believe!
And not just make it! This device,
Could in addition, wrap and slice!
The price per loaf, one loaf or many,
The miniscule sum of under a penny!

Can you imagine what this meant?
Can you comprehend the consequent?
The first time yet the world well fed,
And all because of Tom Smith's bread.

A citation from the President,
For Smith's amazing bread,
This and other honours too,
Were heaped upon his head!

But isn't it a wonderous thing,
How quickly fame is flown?
Smith, the hero of today,
Tommorow, scarcely known!

Yes, the fickle years passed by,
Smith was a millionaire,
But Smith himself was now forgot,
Though bread was everywhere...
People, asked from where it came,
Would very seldom know.
They would simple eat and ask,
"Was not it always so?"

However, Smith cared not a bit,
For millions ate his bread...
And everything is fine, thought he,
I am rich, and they are fed!

Everything was fine, he though,
He reckoned not with fate.
Note the sequence of events,
Starting on the date,
On which the business tax went up.
Then, to a slight extent,
The price on every loaf rose too:
Up to one full cent!

"What's going on!" the public cried,
"He's guilty of pure plunder!
He has no right to get so rich
on other peoples hunger!"

(A Prize cartoon depicted Smith,
With fat and drooping jowls,
Snatching bread from hungry babes,
indiferrent to their howls!)

Well, since the public does come first,
It could not be denied
That in matters such as this,
The Public must decide!

So Anti-Trust now took a hand,
Of course, it was appalled
At what it found was going on.
The "Bread Trust" it was called.

Now this was getting serious,
So Smith felt that he must
Have a friendly interview
With the men in Anti-Trust.

So hat in hand, he went to them.
They'd surely been misled;
No Rule of Law had he defied.

But then their lawyer said:
"The Rule of Law, in complex times,
Has proved itself deficient.
We much prefer the Rule of Men,
It's vastly more efficient!

Now let me state the present rules,"
The lawyer then went on,
"These very simple guidelines,
You can rely upon:
You're gouging on your prices if
You charge more than the rest.
But it's unfair competition if
You think you can charge less!
"A second point that we would make
To help avoid confusion...
Don't try to charge the same amount,
That would be Collusion!
You must compete. But not too much,
For if you do you see,
Then the market would be yours -
And that's Monopoly!

Price too high?
Or Price too low?
Now, which charge did they make?

Well, they weren't loath to charging both,
With Public Good at stake!

In fact, they went one better!
They charged "Monopoly!"
No muss, no fuss, oh, woe is us!
Egad, they charged ALL THREE!

"Five Years in jail," The Judge then said
"You're lucky it's not worse!
Robber Barrons must be taught,
Society comes first!"

Now bread is baked by government.
And as might be expected,
Everything is well controlled.
The Public well protected.

True, loaves cost a dollar each,
But our leaders do their best!
The selling price is half a cent..
Taxes pay the rest.


Update (1999/02/07):
I heard from the author of this poem, and at their request I've reinstated the original verion of the first stanza. The copy I got began

This is a legend of Success and Plunder,
And a man, Tom Smith,
Who squelched world hunger.

This was apparently a version by a group named World Research, modified for whatever reason. I don't have much of an ear for poetry, but the original stanza does seem to fit the pattern better.