Friday, January 4

The Ant and the Grasshopper: A Parable About Equality?

I was saddened today to discover that none of the students in my classes knew the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. Here's a simplified version:
An ant worked hard all summer building a house and stocking up on supplies for the winter. A grasshopper danced and played the summer away. When the winter came, the ant had plenty of food to survive. The grasshopper had no food and died of starvation.
This simple story teaches truth. The ant, who works and saves, reaps the rewards of labor. The grasshopper, on the other hand, reaps the rewards of sloth.

My students don't remember this fable because it doesn't fit in with the modern liberal ideal of "fairness" taught in our schools. The story does illustrate a marked difference between conservatives and liberals. The two arguments go like this:

Conservative: The ant worked hard for his food and should be able to keep it and use it as he sees fit. It is patently not fair of the grasshopper to contribute nothing, then expect to be taken care of during the winter.

Liberal: It isn't fair that the grasshopper should starve during the winter, just because he didn't realize the problems he was facing. The ant should be ashamed that he didn't share his food, since he has so much of it.

And there, in a simple parable, lies the great divide in this country over the concept of "equality" or "fairness." The principle of fairness, as it relates to the redistribution of wealth, is socialist, and, historically proven time and again, has never succeeded in producing a fair system of distribution. It has produced totalitarianism. It has produced economic immiseration of the masses. It has produced the dictatorship of the bureaucracy. It has produced huge national debts and unstable economic systems. But it has never produced fairness.

Notice the recent "equality" stamp now issued by the U.S. Post Office.

The ideal of "equality" is not an American ideal, as understood in liberal doctrine. The Declaration of Independence does indicate that "all men are created equal." Being created equal, and being made economically equal by a redistributive and collective government, are two separate ideals. The equality of the new stamp is an appeal to the ideal created by French socialists. It is the ideal of liberté, égalité, fraternité. It is the ideal that produced the French Revolution (which failed miserably). It is the ideal that had not been realized during the later time of the story of Les Misérables (which failed miserably)

Yet liberal ideologues want us to believe that equality and fairness for all is just as American as freedom and liberty. And so, the point of the parable of the ant and the grasshopper is lost to a generation of young Americans.

No system that steals from the ant to support the grasshopper can ever be fair, nor can it produce equality. It can, however, produce economic misery and a totalitarian state.

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