Futures and Options

Just another town along the road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Grasshopper and the Ant

The re-telling is old, but still appropriate, modifications based on recent events.

ORIGINAL 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 STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

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MODERN 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 shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, 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?

Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King 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.

Obama goes on national television to explain that the grasshopper is homeless because of predatory lending practices by ant-run banking institutions that led to the grasshopper being given a loan for a house he could not afford.  Obama calls for a moratorium on foreclosures, effectively mandating that banks subsidize housing for over-extended grasshoppers.  Obama also calls for allowing grasshoppers to withdraw 15% from their retirement accounts without the early withdrawl penalty, a policy that serves only to further jeopardize the grasshopper’s future by depleting savings that would otherwise grow and earn interest.  Obama continues by calling for an increase in unemployment benefits to insure that the even grasshoppers who do not work are able to afford basic housing and food.  An increase in social security benefits is also necessary as the depletion of retirement funds will reduce or eliminate the possibility of retirement for grasshoppers without governmental support.

To pay for all of this, Obama advocates levying substantial tax increases on the ant, whose income from his own industriousness must somehow be the cause of the grasshopper’s plight.  The ant is forced to work harder to maintain his current standard of living while the grasshopper is not required to work at all and is effectively rewarded for doing nothing.

Other insects begin clamboring for their own “fair share” of what Obama has promised to the grasshopper.  In response, Obama expands his proposed programs to include all insects except the ants and the bees, whose industriousness has made them the upper 5% of the income bracket.  Ants and bees would be required by Obama to pay over half their income in taxes to support the remainder of the insect population who are now living at least partially on handouts are effectively exploiting the labor of the bees and ants.

Despite rampant unpopularity among bees and ants, Obama enjoys almost fanatical support among the rest of the insect world for his “progressive” policies that help the average bug and is elected in a landslide, implementing his proposals to much fanfare.

Realizing that their labor is now going mainly to bugs other than themselves, large portions of the bee and ant populations begin to reduce their workload and rely on increasing amounts of government subsidies and handouts as their incomes drop.  This stretches an already strained governmental budget and Obama responds by further increasing the tax burden on “the wealthy few”, who now see almost all of their earnings diverted into government coffers.  As this cycle continues, the standard of living for the “wealthy” is driven downwards towards the same subsistence level survival as that of those on governmental support, and with this closing of the gap in lifestyle, the incentive to work harder and be more productive is eroded to the point at which the government can no longer meet its support obligations due to increasing numbers of bees and ants giving up on their hard work and choosing to simply live as the grasshoppers do – on governmental support.

With the government no longer able to pay for its social spending, programs are abruptly canceled.  Because bugs have been relying upon governmental handouts in order to make ends meet, none of them have any substantial savings and there is sudden, widespread poverty among those who had formerly been propped up by the government.  Unrest and resentment towards the government grows and there is a period of great civil strife as the government achieves near colapse and emerges from the crisis vastly reduced in scope and scale.

Ants and bees return to their productive ways and begin to slowly eke out a living for themselves and their families.  As time goes on, the bees and ants continue to re-invest in their own labors and their standard of living begins to climb again, while grasshoppers complain about how unfair it is that the government can no longer support their indolence and there are fresh murmurings of resentment towards the bees and ants whose own labor is allowing them to begin to become comparatively wealthy once again.

The ants and bees continue their labor and increase their wealth as the grasshoppers again dance the summer away and everyone slowly forgets about the experience in the past.

Then winter comes and the cycle starts over once again…

MORAL OF THE STORY:  There isn’t one.  The cycle just continues.

posted by Zenmervolt at 08:35  

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