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On my phone, I keep a list of stories I think are essential for my kids to hear.

The list is composed of Aesop’s Fables, scriptures and all kinds of moral stories. My kids don’t let me miss a night, so the list has grown quite large over the years.

This past week, I told my two daughters the story of the Red Hen and an interesting discussion ensued.

For those of you who don’t remember, the story of the Red Hen is about a hen who wants to eat some bread. The hen plants wheat, harvests the wheat, grinds it into flour and ultimately bakes bread.

As the hen begins each new task, she invites the other farm animals to help. The other animals deny each invitation. When the hen has baked the bread, the animals all come asking for a piece.

After telling the story, I asked my daughters what we can learn from this story.

My oldest daughter quickly answered “If you want to eat bread, don’t be lazy.”

I asked what that meant.

She replied, “If you want something, you need to work for it.”

Precisely the point I wanted to get across.

Then my youngest daughter said that the hen still should have shared the bread. When I asked why, she said because it was the nice thing to do. This idea launched us into a great discussion.

I started throwing curve balls at them.

What if the other animals wanted to help but couldn’t because they were sick or hurt? What if the animals knew the farmer would force the hen to share the bread, so they decided not to help at all?

I used the discussion to teach them a lesson about income taxes, which didn’t last long. Thirty seconds into my discourse on taxation and they were fast asleep. Ultimately, I still felt like I accomplished what I was hoping. Stories are immensely powerful.

Taxation has been on my mind a lot lately.

California just raised our gas taxes. The California gas tax was already one of the highest and yet our roads rank as some of the worst. I don’t think the problem will be solved with more money.

A new income tax plan has been presented in Washington. There are some good things and bad things.

For many Napa residents, this new code will hurt. Losing the ability to deduct state income tax and reducing the mortgage interest tax deduction is going to lead to a significant tax increase for many already struggling.

Just as my daughters lost interest when the story left the allegorical, too many grown-ups do the same. We need to be informed and then act to make changes we desire. We need to reject many of the false dichotomies our two-party system lays at our feet.

I think the biggest threat to the American Republic is indifference and apathy.

Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155, Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.