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"Thank you very much," said the grocer to the lady as she paid him 18¢ for a can of beans.

"and thank you," responded the lady. "I want the beans more than these pennies, so I am as obliged to you as you are to me."

"Aren’t these voluntary transactions what’s meant by the free market?" queried the man with the apron.

"Surely. I like to think of it as the Golden Rule prac­ticed in the market place. Would that all of my income were as willingly exchanged as this."

"That goes for me, too. Hm! I never thought of it this way before; but when the government takes my income to give to others, I don’t say thank you, and the ones to whom it is handed never say thank you to me. That’s the thankless way of life, isn’t it?"

"How right you are. The thankless way of life is rapidly replacing the thank you way. And why? I suspect it’s because folks like you and me don’t know how to explain the thank you way. I see I’ve got some homework to do. Good afternoon."

Leonard E. Read
Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) was the founder of FEE, and the author of 29 works, including the classic parable “I, Pencil.”