The Ant, The Grasshopper and the Unintended Consequences of Entitlement

Ant GrasshopperOlder generations were raised with the legend of the Ant and the Grasshopper. Modern ones are raised with the legend of Entitlement. The divide in America is stark and cannot be crossed; it is a bottomless boundary between present and past generations.

It describes opposing views of reality that cannot be reconciled. The Ant worked and saved while the Grasshopper played and enjoyed. When Winter came, the Ant survived on his hard earned savings; the Grasshopper starved, froze and died. That was inculcated into every child in America, black, white or grey. It was used to teach the zeitgeist of the “Protestant Work Ethic” that then pervaded the country. We have spoken of it before.

We abandoned the “Protestant Work Ethic” in favor of “Entitlement.” Our view of the universe had been perception of the Biblical advice: “In the sweat of they face, shalt thou eat bread.” That allowed an economy based upon competition and a need for hard work just to stay alive. We have rejected that as too hard; we prefer an economy in which we are entitled to the results of others’ labors if our own are insufficient. An economy in which the Ant must support the Grasshopper from his hard earned accumulation through the winter, even though the Ant suffers thereby and the Grasshopper is suffering from his own rejection of work when the opportunity existed.

That’s unfair, we are told. Some Grasshoppers couldn’t work through no fault of their own. Some didn’t work because the Ants wouldn’t hire them. Some were infirm. True.

So does the universe care about such things? The universe in which we must live until we die, a universe we did not design but in which we must live? Are Ants responsible for Grasshoppers? Interesting existential questions, really, seems to us.

We note that Ants live underground and stock up on food because that’s how they are designed, not because they have considered it. Grasshoppers die at summers’s end because that’s how they are designed, their reproductive scheme covers it. Neither has a choice.

Homo Sapiens has a choice. We also have a percentage of stillborn children, a percentage of Down Syndrome kids, a percentage of lazy and of criminal kids too. We choose between lessening the survival of well qualified kids by depriving them in favor of supporting the ineffectual or allowing the ineffectual to fail in favor of supporting the well qualified.

Faced with that, we have generally opted for the well qualified while doing whatever we could, shamefaced, for the unfortunate. Our species has prospered thereby. Hard-hearted realists may say that our species has has shortchanged itself. Others will say that we are responsible for the failures of the unfortunate. That is, Ants are responsible for the well-being of Grasshoppers.

Americans and Europeans are living that dialogue today with both the floods of ‘refugees’ invading their lands as a result of their own inability to govern themselves at home, and of the new zeitgeist among world leaders that says that the “rich world” of advanced and wealthy countries must be taken down while the ‘developing’ (i.e. poor) world must be raised up, with the two meeting eventually in the middle. It is assumed that the wealth of the ‘rich world’ is the result of unjust exploitation of the poor.

In other words, the Ant leaders are handicapping the Ants and handing off much of their production to the Grasshoppers in order to equalize the two. The primary tool for this is government and the excuse is collectivism.

If, as we suppose, the universe is hard wired for competition and scarcity and the old Biblical advice was scientifically correct, the result will necessarily be a few Grasshoppers surviving the winter at the cost of a lot of Ants. As the two are designed to survive and to die off respectively, that will lead to many Grasshoppers and too few Ants, ending in an altered environment unsuitable for both. And the universe will not care. Perhaps the dinosaurs need company?

The moral of this tale seems to us: Don’t mess with reality just because it doesn’t please you. You are likely to like that result even less.

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
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