A Policeman a Politician a Banker a Pile of Money and a Farmer all escaped from a dictatorial state and were making their getaway in a balloon. Unfortunately the balloon had been designed for four people not four and a pile of money and was thus slowly sinking towards a lava field which lay between them and freedom in the new land. They quickly realised that if they were to make it across the lava field they needed to throw one person overboard and so they decided to be democratic and discuss in a orderly fashion - the merits of each individual and then vote on who they should throw out of the gondola.
The Policeman went first declaring “I am an important functionary, I must be allowed to live because a society without someone there to enforce the law will collapse into anarchy”. The others thought about this and decided that he was probably right and besides he had a truncheon so throwing him out of the gondola might prove problematical at best.
The Politician went next and declared “I make the laws and order society in such a way as that it is fair to all in that society, I am the paramount functionary and without me the policeman is just another bully enforcing his will upon the populace”. The others thought about this and decided that having somebody to organise the laws of the land was a good idea and would give rise to a reasonable and fair society.
The pile of money went next but all it did was sit there looking like a lot of money.
The farmer who had been waiting his turn and was confident that he was safe smiled; he was the only one who knew anything about feeding the other three in the new lands ahead and certain of his importance to the others went next. “I feed you three, I till the fields and tend the cattle and grow all the things you need in order for you to eat; without me you will die of starvation”. The others thought about this and agreed they needed him and so all eyes turned to the Banker.
The Banker returned their stares with a cold eye and said “I own the Balloon, I paid for your careers, I have all the money, and lastly and more significantly - I am in possession of a pistol; if you think you can live without me I will shoot holes in the balloon and kill us all so murder the farmer” he ordered.
So the others thought about this and after a while they decided to throw the Farmer overboard. The Farmer terrified declared “But without me you will all die”! The other three replied “Yes, but your only a stupid Farmer whereas we are important functionaries”. “But what about the money” begged the farmer? “The others laughed heartlessly and said “Society cannot do without us and we love money” and with that they threw him overboard to his death and the balloon made it to the new lands.
Two weeks later as the men lay dying of hunger the banker shot the policeman and ate him. He also allowed the politician to eat his fill so that when food ran scarce again the banker would have something else to eat. But the politician knew this and understanding that he was going to be eaten next he tried to run away. Unfortunately as the new land was an island he had nowhere to go and the inevitable happened. Thus it was within weeks of slaughtering the Farmer the other three men were also dead and only the money remained.
The moral of the tale is this; if you’re going to ask a banker a politician or a policeman to sacrifice himself and their money for the good of others then you better make darn sure that they who control all the money do not also control all the guns.