Ghosts, goblins, skeletons, skulls and cobwebs. Blood, gore, vampires, bats and cauldrons. Spooky creeking, squeaking, howling, hoots and cries. These are some of the scariest parts of Halloween, but there’s one thing even worse: When your mother makes you share your candy with your siblings.
Picture the following Halloween-night scenario: You’re 10 years old and in the prime of your trick-or-treating years. You have two older siblings who are too lazy to be bothered with trick-or-treating despite the sweet rewards promised to all who put in the effort.
You live in a densely populated neighborhood, perfect for efficient Halloween candy collecting. You’ve spent weeks making your ghost costume. You’ve even thought about what kind of candy receptacle you’ll employ, a white pillow case that’ll meld nicely with your outfit. You’re all set for the big night: All Hallow’s Eve.
It’s 4:30 p.m. and it’s getting dark. You’ve planned your route. You’ll go street by street, up one side and down the other, in a serpentine path designed to yield as much candy as possible in the few hours allotted. A snag pops up. It starts raining at your estimated time of departure. Not a hard rain, but certainly not conducive to someone wearing a cotton sheet. Undeterred, you don a rain jacket and boots under your flowing costume.
Despite the weather, you’re excited and the friendly face at the first house you visit (Mrs. Smith, your next-door neighbor, who always has great candy offerings) tells you how impressively scary you look as she drops a Reese’s into your pillow case. You head to the next porch-lit house. It’s another score there – a full-size Hershey bar.
The euphoria coursing through your 10-year-old veins is palpable. You’ve put in the effort to make a great costume and you’ve designed your assault street by street and now your dream of scoring a bagful of candy is coming true piece by piece, house by house. Candy, of course, is how you measure wealth, as any kid would. And tonight, as President Trump or Charlie Sheen would say, you’re winning.
About three hours later, you finish your trek, albeit soaked and cold, with your arm muscles strained from carrying what has become a water- and candy-laden pouch filled with treats you’ll enjoy for the next few weeks. You get home, pull off your ghostly coverings, remove the wet jacket and take your hard-earned sugary booty into the living room where you show it off to your parents and siblings as they sit watching TV. You’re proud of your candy, but you’re more proud of the work it took to amass.
Your mother then says the scariest words you’ve heard thus far in your young life: “Aww, wouldn’t you like to share some of your candy with your poor brother and sister? Go on, now.”
You think to yourself, “No, Mom, I actually wouldn’t like to share. This is MY candy. I asked them to come along with me but they said they had better things to do. They said they were tired. So, no, this is my candy. I’ve earned it and I’m gonna eat it.”
Of course, your 10-year-old brain doesn’t think fast enough to turn these thoughts into words before your mom has her redistributing hands in your candy stash. She takes out two big handfuls and gives one to your brother and one to your sister. Of course, your siblings feel like winners now, too. They scored delicious candy without lifting a finger or trudging around in the dark and rain as you did. They didn’t even have to take it from you themselves; a higher power (good ol’ Mom) did that for them.
After losing about half of your stash, you sulk up to bed feeling defeated, deflated and disgusted. You feel robbed. You consider forgoing the Halloween candy hunt next year, but instead go to sleep vowing to figure out how to protect your candied wealth next Halloween.
This Halloween-inspired allegory, of course, is fictional. But it happens daily in American life in a similar, but no-less-scary way: It’s called excessive taxation and redistribution of wealth.
Government confiscates our hard-earned “candy” and uses it to prop up inefficient and ineffective social-welfare programs. We lose half of our stash to corrupt politicians who dole out pork to their local constituencies. We lose it to big-business tax incentives and tax breaks. We lose it to wasteful infrastructure projects and bank bailouts. On and on it goes.
Bloated government is like the mother who doesn’t realize she’s shattering one child’s work ethic to please two others who are too lazy and unprepared to go out and get their own “candy.”
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.