In the land of Fairness there existed a factory that supplied all the needs of its inhabitants. It was built by generations of Kings of Fairness and manned and maintained by its sons.
One day the Queen of Fairness, bored in her leisure, was watching the factory. Men, their steps quick with purpose, entered and exited the factory. She heard the sounds of industry, and sometimes over that song and laughter as the men eased their toil through camaraderie.
Sitting in her silent room the Queen's jealousy and anger rose.
She set her maidservants scurrying to fulfil her many and contradicting desires. Every time they failed, she slapped them and fell into tears of frustration and there out the window was the factory with its purposeful sound and men entering and exiting with cheer.
When she ran out of maidservants — they were all cowering in whatever boltholes they could find — she could contain herself no longer. The Queen of Fairness burst in on the King's Audience.
The Audience chamber went silent in shock as she swept up to the throne.
„You say that you have granted me everything my heart desires, a beautiful home, trinkets, leisure time to pursue any intellectual endeavour that took my fancy... but you denied me this!” She swept her hand toward the factory. „What even the most humble man has!”
„You've cruelly denied me a place in the factor, recieving what I am owed as Queen of this land—”
Laughter interrupted the Queen's rant and she turned sharply her mouth closing with a snap. The rest of the court gasped and turned with her.
It was the court jester.
„You want a job at the factory, your Majesty?” The Jester asked, tilting his head, his many pointed hat jingling.
„You impertinent dog, how dare you —“
„That's my job, your Majesty. I dare.” He turned to the King, bowing deeply. „I would like to speak to this, your Majesty.”
The King, who had slumped into a defeated crouch like a beaten cur the moment the Queen swept into the throne room, lifted a hair and, with a furtive glance at his beloved, waved the Jester to continue.
The Jester nodded. His bells tinkled.
„If you grant the Queen her wish to have a job —”
„To control.” The Queen interjected.
„Even better, to control the factory. If you grant the Queen her wish to control the factory, I'm afraid I will have to hand in my resignation, your Majesty.”
The King's brow drew. „Why?”
The Queen huffed. „Cut out his tongue for his impertinence, he has nothing of worth to say.”
The King turned to her wearily. „If I am to lose him in granting your request. I would like to know why.” He gave her a weak smile. „We all know the inevitable, dear.”
„You're a tyrant. I shouldn't even have to make the request of you. It is mine. I seize it.” The Queen lifted her chin, glaring at the King.
„That's exactly the problem, your Majesty.” Said the Jester. At this point the rest of the court had discreetly fled the standoff.
„Cut my tongue out if you wish, your Majesty. I say it for the sake of the kingdom.” Said the Jester.
„The Kingdom?” Scoffed the Queen. „The King denies its riches to me because I'm a woman.”
„Its riches not being riches... but control of the factory?” The Jester replied.
The Jester continued. “What nonsense. Did you not notice fully a third of the workers are peasant women? Further there have been female formen —”
„ForWOMEN!” Shrieked the queen.
„The problem is you.” The Jester said, dropping all pretence.
„You go too far.” The King spoke.
„Cut my head off, then.” The Jester challenged. „All of our lives are forfeit if you grant her request. She does not think of building resources but of controlling their consumption. Make her master of that factory and your Kingdom will lie in ruins. Mark my words.”
The next morning the Jester was to be executed and the Queen granted control of the Kingdom's economic heart. Once suitably fashionable construction hats and smocks were made, the Queen entered the factory with her army of maidservants.
She observed the order and purpose
And thought 'yes, this is what I have been unfairly denied.'
The Forman approached her, bowing humbly. „How may I be of assistance, your Majesty?“
„Tell me, why do some workers give orders and other's obey?“
„Those who give orders have earned authority through merit.“
„Nonsense." Said the queen. "Merit deciding who gets a resource? That should be decided through need. Give that authority to my maidservants at once!“
„Your majesty, if the positions must go to women, why not those already here?“ The foreman pointed to the peasant women...
The Queen tapped her lip with a finger as she looked at the messy pickmes working the factory floor. Some seemed to avoid looking at her, but many were engrossed in their work with an air of quiet purpose. The Queen narrowed her eyes. How dare they!
Those Pickmes had acquired the very resource the Queen so wanted, without her approval, by appealing to the men of the factory through this... blasphemous merit! They didn't need more of it, they'd already stolen it from her!
She looked back at the foreman, he gulped.
„I think not. They already have more than they deserve. Give it to my maidservants at once!“
The Queen's orders were carried out. Within the day her maidservants were appointed in every position of note within the factory.
Some maidservants simply sat in their office, looking official and interfering as little as possible; others took pains to ask how to do their job and commiserate with their now-underlings at the absurdity. But many, too many, took the Queen's declaration to heart.
Those overbearing maidservants took to their roles as boss, making demands and micromanaging tasks and their departments soon suffered for it. And the factory itself started to falter as the effects of their mismanagement spread throughout the factory.
Meanwhile the Queen sat in the Foreman's office, looking out at the factory floor. After she had decorated the office to her liking, installed obsequious courtiers as her eyes and ears in the factory and worn a succession of very fashionable work smocks and helmets...
Somehow she had ended up back at the tedium of her original routine, peticures, manicures, dress fittings and endless gossip. Just in a different location. The boredom and ennui was back, the sense of purpose of the factory workers remained elusive to her.
Now as she watched them she noticed fewer showed that sense of purpose. Instead it had been replaced by a listlessness, an unvoiced dissatisfaction. The Queen smiled. This result pleased her, if she couldn't possess their purpose, at least many of THEM no longer had it.
As she stood, smiling her cruel smile and watching the factory floor, the Foreman entered.
„My Queen, the factory is in crisis. Output has reduced 50%, workers simply stand at their posts and do not work.“ He cried.
„Nonsense. The factory system is more fair than ever!“
The Foreman lifted a report, showing the Queen the factory's current statistics. „Even so, productivity declines! The workers are dissatisfied, they say 'what's the point of working when merit is not rewarded?'“
„Fire everyone who has breathed a word of discontent!“
The Queen continued. „This is backlash against my policies. That's all. Kill all Union members. Hire only people who believe as I do that gender fairness is most important!“
„As you wish.“ Said the Foreman, and he left, his shoulders slumped in defeat.
The Queen found herself pleased at that. He was just another man questioning her rule. Being a man he knew nothing she did not.
At that moment one of her maidservants burst in. „My Queen! The maidservants and I are not happy!“
„Oh what is it?“ The Queen snapped.
„We are separated from our children all day long. We can't attend to our medical appointments and coffee breaks and brunches and church socials and welcome wagons and bridge games and —“
The Queen's jaw clenched „Spit it out!“
„Our families suffer without our emotional labor. We don't want to work here anymore! We're going to quit!“
„Foreman!" The Queen called the Foreman back in. "Give the maidservants all of their demands. Flex time, child care, health care, every possible benefit!“
„But!" The Queen's eyes narrowed, knowing how the Foreman would exploit this. "You must pay them the same and they must remain one half of the employees of this factory!“
„So they get more benefits, work part time and they have the same wage?!“ The Foreman said.
„You will do it, or you will lose your head.“ The Queen replied coldly.
It was done.
A month later, the population of Fairness was rioting in the streets. Inflation had taken hold of their economy as the United States of Fairness dollar flooded back from...
International investors who had lost their faith in the system of Fairness. Productivity had plummeted to lows never before seen.
The King, realizing he was going to lose control over his kingdom, went to the Queen in the Factory.
„My dear, “ He began.
„The peasants are revolting. Our economy is in shambles. Huns gather at the boarder and we do not have the money to mount a defense. I must ask you to give up the factory for the sake of all.“
„Oh ho ho. You think me such a fool? This is all backlash against me!“
„Let our investors pull out! Let the peasants revolt! At least this will end and I will have been in the right! I stood for justice! Social equality! I stood for Fairness! Let the huns come!“ Cried the Queen.
And so the Huns did.
The Huns killed the men of Fairness. They killed the children of Fairness likewise. And after they had mourned their families for a few days the maidservants of the Queen found places as the second or third wives of the Hun's many brothers and generals.
As for the Queen of Fairness, she found a place as the Great Khan's second wife. And although the Khan never raised a hand to her, it's said his first wife would beat her soundly every time she uttered the word „Fairness.“
Only one citizen of Fairness remained.
The Jester had not been executed. The King, in his kindness, banished him under cover of dark. Their final conversation went like so...
„I am sorry for this, Jester, truth be told you have been my only friend these long years.“ The Doomed king said.
„Old man. I can play the fool but I won't play the fool to a bigger fool.“ The Jester said.
„I am a fool. But what can I do, she asks and I must deliver, that is the nature of man. And woman. Run from this and be well.“ Said the king.
Some say the Jester settled far from courtly life. Or perhaps he decided to advise a wiser king and a wiser queen. But he was the last citizen of Fairness.
So folks? What did the kingdom of Fairness do wrong?
Original Story by Alison Tieman from Honey Badger Radio. Reproduced on SteemIt with the authors permission. If the post generates a significant payout it will be forwarded to the author via Feed The Badger.