Recently I saw an old Disney cartoon from 1934 (the midst of the Great Depression) featuring a rendition of Aesop’s famous tale “The Grasshopper and the Ants.”
The cartoon opens with the carefree Grasshopper fiddling his way through a beautiful meadow, eating and drinking from the free and abundant resources.
When he comes across a busy nest full of industrious Ants working hard to stash away food for the winter, he has a good hearty belly laugh at their expense.
He manages to lure one young Ant away from his work by saying, “The Good Book says, the Lord provides. There’s food on every tree. I see no reason to worry and work No sir, not me.” Then he begins fiddling and singing, “Oh, the world owes us a living …” The little Ant dances until he’s caught by the regal and severe Ant Queen, who sends the young Ant back to work. The Queen scolds the Grasshopper for his folly in not realizing the abundance won’t last forever. Needless to say the Grasshopper laughs at her, too.
… Until winter, of course, when – freezing and starving – he collapses on the Ants’ doorstep and begs shelter. Because this is Disney, the Ants welcome him inside – but the Queen tells him he must work for his living by providing fiddle music to cheer the Ants through the winter. By the end of the cartoon, the Grasshopper quite literally changes his tune by singing, “Oh I owe the world a living …” instead of the other way around.
Aesop’s most famous fable has come down through the ages as a harsh lesson in industrious behavior and personal responsibility. The original story, of course, isn’t politically correct. The Grasshopper was NOT taken in by the Ants, but perished due to his folly in refusing to take responsibility for himself.
America used to be an ant’s nest of busy, bustling, industrious citizens who would never dream of relying on the government for their living. If someone fell on hard times, they turned to their family, their church, their community, or other charitable groups or organizations that offered immediate help. Of necessity, these groups couldn’t support able-bodied people forever, but just long enough to help them back on their feet. After that, people were expected to become productive Ants again.
America didn’t always succeed at this resourcefulness, but we tried. Self-reliance and personal responsibility was the preferred and, more importantly, the expected state. To deliberately avoid work was both shameful and unpardonable, a mark on one’s character.
And our country was better for it.
How things have changed. Since the release of this Disney cartoon, there has been a gradual shift in societal expectations. Where once the industriousness of Ants was praised, now it is condemned. People empathize with the Grasshopper and think the Ants severe and cruel. This attitude is reinforced and strengthened by the government through forcible wealth distribution and misguided progressive education in public schools. Today we see such revolting Grasshoppers as the “Occupy Whatever” crowd who proclaim – quite literally – that the world owes them a living.
As a result of this attitude shift, America is breeding more and more Grasshoppers. We’re at the point where Grasshoppers are outnumbering Ants. In fact, in 11 states they already have – the number of people who are dependent on government money outnumbers the number of people who are employed in the private sector. A writer at Forbes Magazine terms these the “death spiral” states and advises investors to stay away. In California, for example, a company that employs 100 Ants also supports 139 Grasshoppers, a clearly unsustainable situation. Many of the productive Ants move away. The remaining Ants totter under a heavier and heavier tax burden. Meanwhile the Grasshoppers merrily fiddle on, multiplying and making more demands on the government until the state topples under their weight.
One thing must be made crystal clear: In Aesop’s fable, what distinguishes the Ant from the Grasshopper is a work ethic. Nothing more, nothing less. The Grasshopper is not down on his luck while the Ant is busy storing food. He is not ill, or handicapped, or in debt, or unable to find a job, or any other hardship an insect might face which would keep him from working toward a secure future. The resources are freely available to both insects. Nothing – nothing whatever – is preventing the Grasshopper from working except an attitude problem.
No decent society – and that includes America – objects to helping those who are truly in need (the operative word is truly). No one will deny assistance to the disabled, the elderly, the orphaned. But what happens when millions upon millions of able-bodied Grasshoppers refuse to help themselves and demand government (Ant) support? Remember, what distinguishes a Grasshopper is a lack of work ethic. They CAN provide for themselves, they just choose not to. They believe the world owes them a living.
Deep down, Grasshoppers know they’re doing the wrong thing. As a result, they’re plagued with rage, hostility, apathy and a desperate need to stay dependent rather than work. They’re also plagued with envy. They want all the good things Ants have achieved through hard work and thrift, but without the corresponding effort. Their solution is to demand socialism, in which all (evil) things are possible and all wealth is redistributed. Thus, with government support, Grasshoppers wreak havoc on America … and the Ants get looted or squashed.
A growing majority of “Americans” (I use the term loosely) want no limits on government spending and prefer to be subjects, not citizens. Soon there won’t be enough Ants. Anywhere.
This week in the Middle East we’ve seen what happens when millions of grasshoppers swarm into locusts. They devour everything in their path and leave behind desolation. Something similar can happen in America when the two-legged grasshoppers swarm into a plague of locusts, demanding that the world owes them a living and to hell with the consequences.
If that happens, America will topple under the weight of its Grasshoppers, leaving behind desolation. From the post-collapse chaos and hardship, hopefully there will be enough Ants left to pick up the broken pieces of this once-great nation and build country of which we can be proud.
Or, we can do it now by ending the Grasshoppers’ dependency on government. The world does NOT owe them a living.