“Item 2 on the agenda”, said Squealer to the meeting of the farm animals. “Rations for retired animals. “
“Comrade Napolean has worked out that it is unfair to take into account how long an animal lives in deciding the level of support the farm will give him in retirement. That’s why he has decided that on retirement, all animals would be given an equal amount of food to last them for their remainder of their life.”
Immediately the animals started to mutter, but Squealer pranced from side to side on the platform and whisked his tail to emphasise his words.
“Don’t you see the genius of Comrade Napolean? His every thought is for the good of all animals. Surely you can see the fairness of his plan, comrades?”
Boxer scraped his foot on the floor of the barn and tried to think. It sounded fair, but didn’t horses live far longer in retirement than hens. Perhaps he was mistaken, but wasn’t that why the original plan was for all animals to get an equal amount per day. He put that to Squealer.
“But how would that be fair, Boxer” interrupted Squeeler. “Horses live longer than other animals. You would end up taking far more food from the farm than the smaller animals. Are you really saying you deserve more than them? That you contributed more than they did?”
Of course Boxer wasn’t saying that. He had been a tireless supporter of treating all animals equally from the very start. But it still didn’t seem quite right that once he had used up his entitlement, he would be left to fend for himself. He wasn’t expecting much in retirement but now it looked like he’d be getting even less.
“This is the glory of animalism”, went on Squealer. “Each animal’s contribution is equally valued so the retirement rations are based on the idea of equal contributions from all. No more exploitation by man. We pigs will make sure that each and every animal is treated fairly”
“But what about you pigs and comrade Napolean himself?”, asked Benjamin. “The rations won’t be enough for your retirement either.”
“Ah, that’s different”, said Squealer. “We pigs must have a different system as we do the brain work. So we don’t contribute to the farm but our thinking benefits you all. “
That’s why we have a “defined benefit” ration system, which will give us a ration based on a proportion of our current rations for the rest of our life. After all, if we pigs had to worry about our retirement, we would not be able to concentrate on making sure that all animals on the farm were getting equal treatment. Surely that’s fair?”
The animals murmured consent. It didn’t sound right but they couldn’t think of an argument why it wasn’t fair. Equal rations for all animals; of course they couldn’t attack it. They settled back down resignedly to wait for the rest of the meeting.
Squealer looked at the next item on the agenda - increases in retirement ages for each class of animal – and his shoulders slumped. “I wouldn’t waste too much time worrying about it , if I were you Boxer”, he muttered quietly.
(With apologies to George Orwell, and in admiration of his presience)