Monday, May 12, 2008

The Ant and the Grasshopper

I've received numerous email forwards of the ant and the grasshopper forward. Political commentator Eric Burton even wrote about it on his blog. As I do with most politically-related topics, I've thought about this parable for a week and decided my take on it is different than those who forwarded it.

In the parable, the ant works hard all year long to ensure his survival. The grasshopper plays, hops about from here to there, enjoys the moment, and puts off any meaningful labor for some future time. Eventually winter comes and the grasshopper has no food or shelter while the ant is cozily cosseted in his home with a ready food supply. The grasshopper whines that it isn't fair that the ant is so safe and well fed while he must suffer with nothing. Outside agencies rush in to defend the poor grasshopper and force the ant to share his largesse.

I guess the grasshopper is supposed to represent lazy people who don't work and protect their own survival during tough times through hard work and planning. I have a different thought on the subject.

To me the ant represents taxpaying citizens who work hard, live frugally, and do their best with what they have -- a strong work ethic and realistic outlook on budgeting for survival. The grasshopper represents our politicians, who spend our money as if it were theirs and don't hold themselves to the same yardstick as they do taxpayers. WE have to save for our retirement and make do, struggling under the dark threat that social security and Medicare will run out in the near future. They have their retirement income locked in forever ad infinitum at no cost to themselves. WE have to purchase our own health care if we can afford it. They have their own special health care plan paid for by tax payers at no cost to themselves. WE have to live amidst a crumbling infrastructure that plays second fiddle to funding wars and support to other countries overseas, while they party in the rarefied air of the DC beltway. Shall I go on, or are you catching my drift?

Perhaps a politician started that parable circulating around the internet. The media says taxpayers are spoiled and can't pull together like we did in other wars. Commentators say we'd rather spend time at the mall than concentrate on solving our country's problems. I say the problems will never be solved as long as our politicians act like grasshoppers sitting on the throne awaiting their entitlements. I say they all give us short shrift and keep us focused on ourselves in hopes we won't notice our politicians' inability to manage a budget and plan for our future as a country.

I say, just who's the ant and who's the grasshopper here?

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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