Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Grasshopper and the Ant, Redux and Redux

A conservative acquaintance forwarded me the following story:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why we should allow the ant to be warm and well-fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, "It's Not Easy Being Green." Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.

Tom Daschle & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Peter Jennings that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his "fair share."

Finally, the EEOC drafts the "Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act," retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, the government confiscates his home.

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and they try the case before a panel of federal judges that Bill appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients. The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.


Cute and almost funny in a leaden, xenophobic sort of way. But not a very good analogy for the world, despite what my acquaintance may think. Here's the better parable:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper – who happens to be a single parent raising five little grasshoppers – does what she can to provide for her little ones.

Despite working long days trying to bring home food for her children, she never manages to get ahead, as she has to pay the ladybug to watch her children while she's out scavenging.

Winter comes and the ant is comfortable in his anthill. Because he was bigger and could get away with it – and because he didn't believe in no stinkin' communism, he chased all the other ants away, leaving plenty of food for himself. But the grasshopper has no such provisions, she had no community of ants from which she could take provisions and so, as winter settled in, she had no food for her little ones.

Not willing to let her children starve, the grasshopper organized all the ants who were chased away by the Big Ant. They agreed that it wasn't proper that the Big Ant should have so much while they starved, especially since the provisions belonged to all the ants, not just the Big Ant.

And so it happened that they agreed to ask the Big Ant to share the great bounty that was stored within the anthill. The Big Ant, annoyed that they would try to take what he had already taken, said no.

And the grasshopper and ants then said that they weren't asking, that they had come for the provisions and the Big Ant could share or leave. The Big Ant left and the grasshopper and ants had a great feast to celebrate.

But the Big Ant gathered his Big Ant cousins and uncles and brothers and, because they were bigger and stronger, they kicked out all the ants and the grasshopper and her children into the snow, where they perished.

And the next year, when the Big Ant had no community of ants to do the work for him, the Big Ant discovered he could not survive on his own. And so he died.

The Moral?

Might may win the day, but it does NOT make Right.

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