Freeman

ARTICLE

The Apples of Finniss Creek

AUGUST 01, 1963 by STANLEY YANKUS

Mr. Yankus moved to Australia from Michigan in protest against such things as government subsidy and control of farming.

As a stanch believer in liberty, I’ve been puzzled by the mental processes that take place in a so­cialist’s mind. By what quirk does one justify taking what belongs to someone else?

At least part of the answer was supplied recently in an apple or­chard along Finniss Creek in South Australia. My family and I were visiting a farmer in that area. Toward evening, he invited us to inspect his neighbor’s or­chard.

As we approached the boundary fence, our host explained that he had obtained permission to inspect the orchard, but we were forbid­den to touch the apples. Inside the fence, we four adults and seven children found ourselves sur­rounded by acres and acres of ripe, juicy apples ready to be picked and eaten. Temptation beckoned us as it did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Before long, one of the children asked, "May I have this apple on the ground?" The farmer’s firm reply was, "No!" For he under­stood one of the first laws of liberty: Only the owner of the prop­erty can give a gift. The apples were not our host’s to give.

Everything that happens to us has some lesson to teach. And re­flection upon that incident in the apple orchard has afforded new in­sight to me. My desire to know how a socialist thinks seemed to be fulfilled as I visualized myself alone, unwatched, and hungry for a day in that orchard on Finniss Creek. How easy to think of so­cialistic excuses for taking just one apple:

This limb is so laden that it will break if I do not pick an apple from it.

My taking an apple would be an act of charity on the owner’s part.

This apple would spoil if I did not pick it now.

This apple is on the ground.

The owner would never miss one apple in 100,000; he’d never see this one.

I’ll offer to pay for an apple if I get caught picking it.

I’m hungry and have a right to eat.

He’s richer than I am.

With so many apples, he’d only have to pay more taxes.

This apple is unsalable.

This one has a worm in it.

The crows eat some apples; why shouldn’t I?

The owner doesn’t own the ap­ples because Nature grew them.

I pay taxes to subsidize farm­ers, so I’m only taking part of what belongs to me.

There is a surplus of apples, and I’d be helping reduce the surplus. Distribution is more important than production.

I’ll vote and pass a law to make it legal to take an apple.

The majority rules, and I’m ob­viously the majority here.

To get anywhere in this world you have to take what you want. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

I’ve seen other men take apples. I’ll just take an apple for the poor folks I know.

The almost endless list of ex­cuses for taking just one apple are simply variations of those that people use to justify their socialis­tic acts. And the sad part of it is that most of us fail to recognize our own personal excuses. It’s easy enough to see the socialism in others, and condemn them. Much more difficult is to recognize and rout the socialism from ourselves. Yet, how else can any one of us contribute toward making this a better world?

If you want to appreciate what makes a socialist tick, take a stroll through an apple orchard ready for harvest. And reflect on those excuses of "want" or "need" that you might have been tempted to use to take the property of others.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

August 1963

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

November 2014

It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION