Dan Popp
The birthday party (a parable)
By Dan Popp
January 10, 2019

"Cindy, come sit down; I want to talk to you." From her father's tone of voice, Cindy couldn't tell whether this would be a good talk or a bad talk. She sat. "You know, your birthday is coming up next month." (Oh, it was going to be a good talk!) "I'm going to be EIGHT," she proclaimed. "Yes, and your..." "That's halfway to SIXTEEN."

For a moment, Cindy and her dad had the same perception of time. She would be a grownup in the blink of an eye.

With some difficulty, Dad refocused. "Mom and I want to throw a party, and you and a few friends can all have gifts." "YAY! How many can I invite?" "Well, I think 8 has a nice ring to it."

"Oh, no, Dad. There are 25 kids in my class at school. And Ms. Birnbaum has taught us that everyone should be treated the same. So I have to invite them ALL."

"Hmm. OK, I think we can manage 25 – but we won't be able to give presents to everyone, then."

"What?!?" Cindy started a tear, just in case.

"Well, we don't have enough money to give everyone something. If you have 25 little guests, they'll all get some cake and punch, but that's about it.

"But..." The tear was welling nicely.

"Look, if you want to give everyone a gift, I understand; but my pockets are only so deep, you know? So here's a grownup kind of choice for you: You can either give things away at this party, or you can invite everyone. You can't do both."

Cindy's face lit up like a birthday candle. "OH, it's like illegal immigration and welfare!" she announced. "Yes, exac – uh – what?" "It's like what the Democrats are saying. They spent years and years building up a gigantic goodie-dispensing machine, right? And now they want to open the borders!" His expression showed that Dad had not quite made the connection.

"The borders, Dad, letting everyone in! That's like my class, times infinity. If everyone in my class could invite someone, and those people could invite someone, eventually the whole world would be on our doorstep, looking for the presents. There wouldn't be enough money to keep giving them things. You know, what Ms. Birnbaum calls 'social services': free houses, free food, free school, free health care and stuff."

Dad wasn't as pleased as he knew he should have been. He was mainly wondering if his little girl hadn't grown up already. "You're right, Cindy. There's no amount of money that could ever satisfy the needs of the whole world, because those needs would keep growing and the treasury would keep shrinking. The country can't even pay for the 'free stuff' we're giving away now – to people who belong here. Opening our wallet to anyone and everyone would create a death spiral for the economy."

"Because of the birthday party principle," Cindy triumphed. "You can either give things away, or you can invite everyone, but not both."

Dad laughed. He was roughly 81% sure he wasn't being mocked with that verbatim quotation. "Maybe you should run for office," he said.

Then, more thoughtfully, he added: "In a few years."


Dear Reader, I could have chosen 7 years or 6 years for the age of the girl. Maybe even a child of 5 could have a vague conception that people can't have everything they want. Resources are limited; desires, often presented as "needs," are unlimited. This prompts us to ask, does Nancy Pelosi really think that you, a grown person, can't figure out that a bottomless welfare state cannot exist? Why is Bernie Sanders unfamiliar with one of the most blatant facts of the human condition? Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez really operating on the mental level of a preschooler?

If you like your Marxist redistribution, you can keep your Marxist redistribution – until the parasite kills the productive host, which may take a while longer. If you want the end of the nation-state (that is, no borders), the welfare state comes down with it, and within short order.

You can give things away, or you can invite everyone to the party.

Not both.

© Dan Popp


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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