By Andy Betz

Once upon a time

In a land far, far away

Lived a King, a Princess, and a Wizard.

The King had much to say

“The Treasury is nearly empty.”

“The bills are yet to be paid.”

“My daughter spends like a drunken sailor.”

“All limits she managed to evade.”

The Wizard was a man of wisdom.

Listening was his forte.

He also was a problem solver.

It said so on his resume.

“Sire, you have but few choices.”

“Each has a sense of urgency.”

“Each has fiscal agony.”

“Each has political uncertainty.”

“You could marry off the Princess.”


“Find another with pockets of gold.”

“Allow him to risk bankruptcy,

To ensure your financial household.”

The Princess feigned interest so far.

She knew what was to come.

She knew where the blame would certainly fall.

She knew she wasn’t the only one.

“But Daddy, you are also to blame

For choices of even today.”

“You borrowed and borrowed and borrowed again.”

“Have you ever thought to repay?”

“The banker’s patience wears thin.”

“They no longer accept your word.”

“They want their payment in full.”

“Your delay they view as absurd.”

The Wizard now knew the problem.

The Wizard now knew the solution.

The Wizard knew the subject’s response.

It all spelled revolution.


Unless, and that was a big word.

Unless he could provide much-spin.

If the subjects only heard.

Then the subjects wouldn’t listen.

“The answer to the problem

Is simple to concede.”

“Simply take each subject’s income

As much as you will need.”

“Take from the richest first.”

“Inform the poor and mislead.”

“All must pay their fair share.”

“To do otherwise is greed.”

“Then take from the middle class

A sum less than the first.”

“Then increase this sum slowly.”

“Tell them it could be worse.”

“To keep all in obedience,

To keep them all in line,


Give the poor a share from others;

Tell them life is now fine.”

“Above all, let no one abscond

From their patriotic duty to pay;

Every year, every month,

And each and every day.”

The King and Princess grew smiles,

That went from ear to ear.

They understood gold when they saw it.

Their debts would soon disappear.

But one issue remained hanging.

One issue stumped these three.

What would they call the program?

Was it a tax? Was it a fee?

After hours of lively debate,

Ending much past three.

They settled on the nomenclature.

They would call it, “FREE”.


By voluntarily contributing,

Which really means by force.

All have access to FREE.

All must steer this course.

FREE roads, FREE bridges,

FREE school, FREE care.

FREE doctors, FREE lawyers,

FREE everything! I swear!

FREE must succeed.

FREE would forever last.

FREE is now the future.

FREE frees all from the past.

FREE makes other pay.

FREE makes you swoon.

FREE could be here today.

FREE could be here soon.

So in this distant place,

In this land far, far away.


Once the people tasted FREE,

FREE would always stay.

But the day soon came,

When people did not shout.

When they learned the true cost of FREE,

They knew what FREE was all about.

So, remember the King,

The royal debts,

The reason to be a hero.

Then, remember the math,

When taxing income,

That 100% of zero is zero.


With degrees in Physics and Chemistry, Andy Betz has tutored and taught in excess of 30 years. His novel (The Lady in Red Quilt), short stories (The Copy, Kelly, My Color, November, My Bucket List, Mrs. Zeeman), and poems (The First Verse of the Worst Nurse Curse, Soon, I Watched the Ocean, When I Was Ten, The Coin Spins, Once Was a Day Without Sunshine, Wrap Around Wrap, Polysyllabic Enunciation) are works still defining his style. He lives in 1974, has been married for 26 years, and collects occupations (the current tally is 95). He currently teaches physics and physical science.

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