|Public Domain Artwork|
Recently I received one of those emails that got passed on - an allegory about Grasshoppers and Ants.
Whoever wrote the so-called "modern" version of the proverbial story portrayed the grasshoppers as lazy freeloaders and drug addicts and tried to portray the ants as the industrious "middle" class, but actually they came across more like the wealthy ruling class. Somehow this just didn't make any logical sense to me.
So I rewrote the story the way I think it should have been written.
If you pass it on, don't blame me.
The Ant and the Grasshopper – PROVERBIAL VERSION
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
MORAL OF THE OLD STORY: Hard work pays off, but eat, drink, be merry, tomorrow you die.
The Ant and the Grasshopper – A REVISED "MODERN" VERSION
The ants work hard for long hours in the withering heat and the rain all summer, fall, winter and spring, building their houses and laying up what meager supplies they have left from their labor because the grasshopper has learned how to steal almost everything the ants work for.
The grasshoppers think the ants are fools and laugh and dance and play the summer away - flying here and there for their own pleasure. They employ ants and think they should be praised for their generosity. But as soon as the ants start demanding a fair wage and basic health care, the grasshoppers fire the ants and employ ants from far away who are willing to work for mere subsistence and no health care.
Meanwhile, the grasshoppers are stealing more and more from the supplies the local ants work so hard to produce. The grasshoppers have the best health care money can buy and force the ants to pay out of their meager wages for the worst health care money can buy. The grasshoppers own the health insurance companies and so they make even more money off the ants’ insurance premiums. They also deny payments for legitimate health care when ants get sick – so they can keep more of the ants’ money and make the other grasshopper stockholders happy.
Come winter, the head grasshoppers demand to know why the shivering ants are complaining about the cost of heating their homes. Grasshoppers own the oil company and so while the demand for heating fuel is high, they raise the price for heating oil. They do the same with the other commodities they own like electricity and gas. This causes food prices to skyrocket and many ants must choose between staying warm and feeding the little ants. God forbid ants need medicine or an operation.
To maximize profits the grasshoppers foil all attempts to restrict the use of oil, coal and other forms of energy in spite of the effects the scientist-ants claim such fuels have on their health and environment. Grasshoppers poo-poo all science and insist that the grasshopper-god is on their side.
The grasshoppers are all well fed and warm. They all had braces on their teeth when growing up. They went to the best schools. They had ant-housekeepers and ant-gardeners and ant-nannies and ant-chauffeurs.
Now they have the money and leisure to manipulate the media to convince the ants that they need larger homes and flat screen TVs and fancy cars. The grasshoppers lend the ants money so the ants can feel as if they are as well off as the grasshoppers. But the grasshoppers are greedy and raise interest rates on credit so they can be sure to suck the ants dry at the opportune time. But not right away and not all at once. Grasshoppers want to keep the ants grasping for the carrot while keeping the carrot out of reach of most ants.
The TV networks show pictures of the shivering, hungry and homeless ants next to a video of the grasshoppers in their comfortable mansions, corporate jets at their disposal and villas around the world, eating only at the most expensive restaurants. Grasshoppers have 99% of everything the ants produce. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, these poor ants are allowed to suffer so?
Meanwhile the ants must eat poor quality food, prepared in factories and loaded with high fructose corn syrup, MSG and chemicals. Many of the ants are in poor health – some from working in mines or other dangerous work environments.
Some lucky ants are working two part time jobs to feed the kids, while others are losing their jobs to outsourcing, losing their homes, and going bankrupt. Grasshoppers have even reneged on promises to retired ants – taking away their pensions and health care. Many retired ants are forced to live on Social Security alone and have not received a cost of living increase in years. Grasshoppers are threatening to take away even this meager income, claiming it costs the government too much.
The ants know there is strength in numbers, so they hold a demonstration singing “we shall overcome” but many ants have been duped into thinking they could live like grasshoppers and are embarrassed to be seen with protesters.
These deluded ants have their cable TV, ESPN and a couple of six-packs for the weekend. They are still able to pay the minimum on their credit cards, so they can’t be bothered to see what’s going on around them. They idolize the grasshoppers and their life-style and want to be like them.
The grasshoppers feed this fantasy. They pay to influence the government to force the ants to spend money they don’t have on things that their taxes used to pay for.
Many ants die in floods, fires, tornados and other catastrophes. This makes the grasshoppers even more wealthy because they sell all the products needed to rebuild washed out anthills and homes. Their insurance companies find ways to deny coverage for the ants’ losses. Grasshoppers, who pay little or no taxes, unapologetically take the government’s money to rebuild at great profit.
Meanwhile Rev. Robinson blames the catastrophes on groups of gay ants and ants who do not believe in his religion.
Many ants who wanna-be grasshoppers run for government office, convinced by their grasshopper colleagues that the government should not spend any money to help poor, unemployed or sick ants, while they themselves gain plenty from the government – tax breaks, congressional health plans and life-time retirement plans – all paid for by working ants. They seem unconcerned that the roads and bridges are crumbling, that bus and train transportation is inefficient (grasshoppers have their own wings) and that ants are not being educated as well as ants in other parts of the world. In fact, grasshoppers want the government to stop providing all services that benefit ants in any way.
Many grasshoppers and some ants who imitate them have grown rich on wars the grasshoppers have waged across the seas. They sell trucks, tanks, guns and missiles to the government at high prices and convince other grasshoppers and ants alike that war is necessary. They also sell everything needed to “rebuild” the countries destroyed by their wars – all at great profit – but refuse to allow the government to spend money to rebuild American infrastructure or the ant communities destroyed by hurricanes and floods and factory closings. They won’t even help the ants who fought in their wars, so many vet-ants turn to drugs or alcohol and are homeless.
The grasshoppers are only concerned with how much money and goods they can amass. They are way beyond having enough food for the winter - grasshoppers can NEVER have enough to be satisfied.
President Obama comes up with ways to help the ants and make the country stronger. He tries to get the grasshoppers and the ants to work together but the grasshoppers will not give up a single grain of wheat to the ants.
The grasshoppers block all of Obama’s ideas from becoming law of the land OR they change Obama’s ideas so much that they will not possibly have the intended effect. Then they blame Obama for the ideas that did not work. This is called sabotage. In order to get their way, they hold the country hostage, threatening to catapult the government into default. This is called extortion.
Grasshoppers refuse to entertain the concept that much of the ants woes are due to the policies of President Bush 43, President Bush 41, President Reagan, the Koch Brothers, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, the oil companies, banks and Wall Street. The grasshoppers consciously decide to make sure that everything stays as is so they can remain privileged.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the grasshoppers have gotten rich off the back of the ants, and call for an immediate RETURN to FORMER TAX RATES on the grasshoppers to make them pay their fair share. Grasshoppers balk.
The grasshoppers have so much wealth and influence that they make sure that things actually get worse for the ants and for the government. This is their plan to get rid of Obama and anyone who wants to help ants. They use everything at their disposal – including fear tactics and religion – to influence how ants will vote. They scare middle class ants into thinking that helping other ants will mean less for them. The grasshoppers are very cunning and their methods insidious.
The story can have very different or slightly different endings depending on how the ants and grasshoppers vote in 2012.
1. Grasshoppers prevail – nothing gets done, things get worse.
2. Ants revolt, blood is shed, things get worse.
3. Grasshoppers and ants work together, ants work hard and have their needs met, grasshoppers sacrifice a few bucks to ensure that all ants have jobs and decent benefits, grasshoppers still maintain the highest standard of living in the world and earn the respect of ants and grasshoppers alike.
MORAL OF THE STORY: No matter how hard you work, the freekin’ grasshoppers will steal you blind and you’ll be the one starving this winter; Grasshoppers are likely to make the story all about them and make all hardworking ants look like losers and drug addicts.
I've sent this to you because I believe that you are an ant not a grasshopper!
Make sure that you pass this on to other ants. Don't bother sending it on to any grasshoppers because they wouldn't understand it, anyway.
A Government that takes care of all of its citizens, including its most vulnerable, will deserve the support and allegiance of all.