As the guards dragged the jester away, the king sat scowling.
“That’s the second jester this week, my lord.”
“Stupid [expletive deleted]! Who thinks that kind of thing is [expletive deleted] funny?”
“Your advisors have seen and trembled at your majesty’s frowns these last weeks. Would your highness honor us by unburdening his mind?”
“Drop the formality. It’s not like we’re being recorded.”
“Well then, what’s the problem? This can’t be about a couple of lame jokes.”
“The poor are hungry.”
“Yes, you know, the poor – the people with less money. The opposite of the rich.”
“Well, pardon me, but that seems like a tautology. To be poor is to be hungry.”
“Well, I don’t like it. There’s plenty of food. We export food. Why is anyone here hungry? Let those commie bastards overseas go hungry.”
“The commies buy our food. Your poor subjects don’t have any money.”
“It doesn’t make any sense. The farmers grow so much food we have to buy it up to keep them from going bankrupt. Sometimes we even pay them not to grow food. We export tons of food. And yet poor people, not two miles from here, are hungry now.”
“‘The poor you have with you always.’ There’s always a bottom one percent.”
“You aren’t listening. I understand they have no money. But we have food left over after everybody with money buys all he can eat. We’re the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Our poor people shouldn’t have to be hungry.”
“We can’t just give them bread. That’d be communist.”
“It’s always been this way.”
“Well I’m [expletive deleted] tired of it. Summon the wizards and wise men!”
And so the king heard many ingenious proposals, and executed several ingenious economists. In due course a young wizard from the hinterland was brought before the king.
“The key, your majesty, is corn. With a nudge here and a tweak there, corn production will skyrocket. Furthermore, these changes will establish new constituencies, making it virtually impossible for anyone to undo your majesty’s reforms.”
“Feed everybody corn? That’s your big idea?”
“Actual human consumption of corn is far less significant than corn by-products, your majesty. Feeding the poor is like raising cattle. We simply adjust the feed mix to maximize weight gain. Corn is the ideal industrial feedstock to fatten humans. We’ll put it in everything. In one generation hunger will be less common among the poor than obesity. We’ll have the fattest poor people on the planet. This will permanently change the appearance of your kingdom.”
“Yes! That’s the idea! In my kingdom, even the poor will be fat!
“Especially the poor, your majesty.”
“That’ll be great! Make it so!”
And so it was.