The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

Barnyard Economics Teachers

Modified: Tuesday, 20 July 2021 21:53 by admin - Categorized as: Podcasts
The following is a collection of the materials used in creating the thirty-fourth episode of the Citizen Reagan podcast about the Reagan's Radio Commentaries.





Ronald Reagan once introduced one of his broadcasts as follows, "A modern day little Red Hen may not appear to be a quotable authority on economics but then some authorities on economics aren’t worth quoting." Let me follow up by asking why send a hen to do a duck's job?? I'll be right back.

This is the Citizen Reagan podcast and I need to get in the habit of doing a few things with every episode, like asking you to rate and review the podcast with whatever services you use. Like asking you to share us with your friends, family, complete strangers and your worst enemies, I don’t care really, just as long as you share it. Like telling you that you can find past episodes, transcripts, research and more on a wiki on my webspace. The address for the wiki is but if you just visit, I have a variety of other projects there. I sell digitally restored books, magazines and pamphlets. I have constructed an archive of old pulp short stories. I accept donations through Ko-fi, if you're willing help out. It’s all there on the website. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to Reagan.

Today's Reagan broadcast is going to be the story of the Modern Little Red Hen, but I would like to introduce you to a rather money-savvy duck who made his first appearance on film screens in March of 1967, though his origin start in comic books going back to the early 1950s. Scrooge McDuck is uncle to Disney's Donald Duck and great uncle to triplets Huey, Dewey and Louie. In 1967, the three lads approached their rich uncle about helping them grow their savings, a piggie bank containing $1.95. What comes of it, though, is a music-filled 20 minute cartoon educating us on the topics of the medium of exchange, home economics, budgeting, the dangers of inflation and the necessity of circulation of money.

Not exactly kiddie level subjects now, are they? Kids might get a little something out of it, but the cartoon and song make it easier to digest for everyone, and everyone could really use it.

I’ll play some parts of it, but I encourage you to go out and watch the whole thing. It is on Youtube, it is NOT on Disney Plus and before the end of this episode I’m going to discuss that a little further.

I was introduced to the cartoon "Scrooge McDuck and Money" through Disney's 1985 television special entitled "Ludwig’s Think Tank." Basically, Disney decided to package a bunch of their educational films and play them all together. My parent’s recorded it on BETA tape, you know, the superior tape format, for me when I was 5 years old and I almost wore that sucker out, but not before we could digitize it. I now have Ludwig’s Think Tank on a DVD-R.

I frequently think of the show when I hear someone talking about how incomprehensible the numbers are coming out of Washington D.C. Back in the sixties, the budget was measured in billions and spending on programs in the millions. But these numbers, and the trillion number we now throw around like it’s pocket change, are much more significant than one may think. Let’s listen to a clip from the cartoon...
Uncle Scrooge why don't they just print up a few billion or so?

A few billion! Oh dear no! My, that word billion, how it's abused.
If it weren't so frightening, I'd be amused.
Folks have no conception.

Now how much is in this hat?

Gee a billion? Or more than that?

See what I mean? They were nowhere near.
there's only a hundred thousand here.

A billion dollars stacked up right
without an accident,
is about 800 times the height
of the Washington Monument.

Reagan actually did a similar comparison and I researched his statement a number of years ago. In 1961, while speaking to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, he tried to provide a mental picture of the national debt:

If I had here in my hand a 4-inch stack of $1000 bills, I'd be a millionaire. But if we had in front of us the national debt, piled up in $1000 bills, the pile would be more than 18 miles high.

The federal debt in 1961 was $289 billion. At one point, I had worked out the calculations to show that Reagan’s rounding resulted in an under estimation, but I cannot find them anymore. Not like I don’t have the time, so let’s give it a shot: a dollar bill is 0.0043 inches thick. 1 thousand, 1 thousand dollar bills would then be 4.3 inches thick. That's your million. 1 billion would be 4300 inches thick...or tall. The national debt of $289 billion would be 1,242,700 inches or 103,588 feet, which is...rounding off 19.6 miles high.

The point is, these numbers are enormous and wrapping one's head around them grows increasingly difficult. Remember, too, when it comes to the debt, spending plans and budgets, those are YOUR tax dollars.

But let's get back to what else Scrooge has to teach us.

What is money? Why do we carry these metal disks, slips of paper, plastic implanted with magnetic strips and computer chips? Money is simply our mutually agreed upon medium of exchange. In the time of ancient Rome, salt, which they called salarium, was how soldiers were paid. We don’t need money for commerce, so why do we use it? Because to trade in other goods, i.e. barter, leads to greater difficulty.

A group of cavemen met one day,
to see if they could trade.
They brought their spears and tiger skins,
and tools that they have made.
But how many tools for a tiger skin,
and how many skins for a spear?
The aggregation,
in frustration,
hollered loud and clear.

We need money!
Some form of money!

How should we go about this
any how-ow-ow-ow!
We could use corn or salt or oats
dried fish perhaps, or nanny goats.

but we must set a standard of value now.

A survey of the polls revealed that goats
got all the votes.
Then some smart joker priced a knife
at three and one half goats.

So back to the salt and the tiger skins,
dried fish and pepper and tea,
corn and beads,
shells and seeds.

As men cried bitterly,
We need money!
Some stable money!

Why should this be so
awkward to ara-a-a-ange.
We ought to try some metal things,
like swords or hooks or pots or rings,
and thus improve our medium of exchange.

Well articles of silver, copper, bronze and gold were tried
and most successful was a disc with pictures on each side.

After the song comes the discussion that we had earlier about what a billion dollars looks like, which eventually leads to Scrooge going off on inflation briefly before shifting to economics and budgeting.

We all have expenses: food, clothing, utility bills, and if you know where that money is going, you can figure out how best to spend or not spend it, and this is a good lesson, not just for households, but for larger entities, like governments.

Let's say your income is like a pie.
There is a piece for everything you buy.
Cut portions wisely,
don't be unnerved,
or it will all be gone,
before everyone is served.

Uh oh lads. We've been somewhat lax
we forgot the piece for the income tax.
Income tax??
Aye, though taxes are a pain in the what-you-ma-call-it,
this right here, the wallet,
taxes are the funds
governments must get to run
their households and keep out of debt.
They must have a budget too.
Aye, that they do, that they do.

In another of their quartet-performed songs, they suggest that, through a budget, households and government should be able to show a profit.
Always remember to save a slice for yourself!

Well, I don't see that ever happening in my lifetime, unless I clone myself about 600 times and get all of them elected to Congress and the presidency.

After a final song, taking place in Scrooge's corporate boardroom, the boys sign on the dotted line and put their money, minus a 3 cent consulting fee, in their uncle's hands for growth.

When I was in school, more years ago than I care to count, I took a couple home economics classes. They were about cooking and sewing, not money. I didn't get fiscal economics until college, and then it was still not about these kinds of skills. I don’t believe any child is given this kind of fiscal education anymore, much to their loss.

But let's get to the Modern Little Red Hen. As I'm thinking about it, Reagan calls this a little treatise on basic economics. I'm not sure I agree. I think it’s a treatise on common sense.
A modern day little Red Hen may not appear to be a quotable authority on economics but then some authorities on economics aren’t worth quoting. I'll be right back.

About a year ago I imposed a little poetry on you. It was called "The Incredible Bread Machine" and made a lot of sense with reference to matters economic. You didn't object too much so having gotten away with it once I’m going to try again. This is a little treatise on basic economics called "The Modern Little Red Hen."


Once upon a time there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. She called her neighbors and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?"

"Not I," said the cow.

"Not I," said the duck.

"Not I," Said the pig.

"Not I," said the goose.

"Then I will,” said the little red hen. And she did. The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. "Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.

"Not I," said the duck.

"Out of my classification," said the pig.

"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.

"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.

"Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake bread?" asked the little red hen.

"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.

"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.

"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.

"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.

"Then I will," said the little red hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for her neighbors to see.

They all wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I can eat the five loaves myself."

"Excess profits," cried the cow.

“Capitalist leech," screamed the duck.

"I demand equal rights," yelled the goose.

And the pig just grunted.

And they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched round and round the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be greedy."

"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.

"Exactly," said the agent. "That is the wonderful free enterprise system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide their product with the idle."

And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, I am grateful."

But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread.

I guess a lot of us have been wondering something like that. Incidentally, if you’d like to have a copy of The Modern Little Red Hen, don’t write me, but write the station to which you are listening and they’ll send you a copy.

This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

I honestly don't know what to add, except to ask why no one has actually made this into a real children's picture book. I worked in a public library and I never saw one. We need to start putting out more things like this to counter those 'Anti-racist Baby' and 'A is for Antifa' board books I have seen.

Also, obviously, this duck, screaming "capitalist leech" could not have been not related to Scrooge.

Before I close, I said I would talk about Disney Plus. Setting aside the Disney Corporation's politics, the service is excellent. The original shows in the Star Wars and Marvel brands, like the Mandalorian, have been great and Disney's catalog of media is extremely deep. That said, one thing I wish they would do is pull more of their educational media out of storage.

Some of it is out. Schoolhouse Rock, which was part of the ABC library when Disney bought them, is available, as are the Disney True Life Adventures. The show we now know as The Wonderful World of Disney, which has had numerous names during its run, had a handful of educational episodes, such as "Man in Space" and "Mars and Beyond", or "The Story of the Animated Drawing." Some of those are there too. The relatively new DisneyNature brand, as well as a number of films produced through National Geographic are also available.

So, what is missing? Well, I mentioned Ludwig’s Think Tank earlier, none of those are included:

There’s also a number of films about fitness, there's Donald and the Wheel, The Litterbug, It's Tough to be a Bird, The Truth about Mother Goose and more. It should be noted, many of these cartoons were nominated for and won Oscars.

We need, and Disney has the ability to provide, good content for kids (and adults) that is fun and educational and free from other agendas.

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