Eggconomy 101

An Easter egg hunt my kids went to the other day turned into a lesson in capitalism vs. communism.

My daughter arrived at the appointed hour (my son waited for me, so we were a couple minutes after nine), and the hunters had already scoured the field clean. Baskets overflowing. My daughter found 2 eggs. My son: zero.

Okay, you might say it’s survival of the fittest, this game, this race–more skill than chance. Snoozers are losers. But this elbows-out aggression over cheap plastic eggs filled with even cheaper chocolate has always seemed to me a strange way to mark the resurrection of Christ or the spring equinox, depending on your religious point of view.

And the trouble here is: The rules of this children’s game, in our neighborhood at least, is just 12 eggs per child–an attempt to ensure a fair distribution of goods among the members of ourĀ community. After all, we were supposed to contribute 12 such eggs per child to ensure the supply was sufficient.

But, alas, the Achilles heel of communist idealism: if there’s no dictator to enforce the rules, people don’t exactly “commune” on their own.

“Come on, kids,” I said. “Let’s go. This is a bust.”

As we walked away, a few older kids came up and redistributed their wealth, handing a few eggs to our children, a gesture urged by parents nearby who heard my griping or saw our 7-year-old’s pinched face.

The Haves reaching out to the Have Nots: More an issue of guilt over their own avarice than altruism, maybe, but a kindness nonetheless.