A fable about wealth, fairness and racism
With all the flap over the “two Americas” being generated in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I thought the following was appropriately timed. Similar renditions of the story are all over the Internet, but if anyone knows who the original author is, please e-mail it to me, and I’ll credit the author in a future column.
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, so he laughs, dances and plays the summer away.
When winter comes, the ant is warm and well fed because he worked hard and prepared for the long winter. The grasshopper—who has no food or shelter—ultimately dies out in the cold.
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, so he laughs, dances and plays the summer away.
When winter comes, the shivering grasshopper calls CNN for help—which in turn “breaks a story” about “two Americas.”
The rest of the mainstream media show up and broadcast pictures of a destitute, shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. Reporters demand to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed, while others are cold and starving.
What can be done to end the poverty and bridge the gap between the two Americas? The media pundits ask. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Meanwhile, Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and the audience breaks into tears when they sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
From the floor of the Senate, Hillary Clinton promises that she will do everything in her power to help the plight of the grasshopper, which obviously has been denied the prosperity he deserves by those who unfairly benefited from the Bush tax cuts.
Al Sharpton appears on Nightline and tells Ted Koppel he will not relent until there is a congressional investigation into the obvious institutionalized racism that deprived the grasshopper of his right to prosperity.
Jesse Jackson and Cindy Sheehan stage a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the media film the group singing, “We shall overcome.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean exclaims in an interview with Larry King that the fat-cat ant has become wealthy off the back of the grasshopper, and excoriates the Bush tax cuts that benefit only the wealthy. He calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission drafts the “Economic Equality and Pro-Grasshopper Act,” retroactive to the beginning of time. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and—having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes—the ant’s home is confiscated by the government and given to the grasshopper.
The story ends as the grasshopper eats the last of the ant’s food, while his government house crumbles around him, since he hasn’t maintained it.
On the television, which the grasshopper bought by selling most of the ant’s food, Bill and Hillary Clinton stand before a wildly applauding group of Democrats announcing that a new era of fairness has dawned in America.
Hilary announces her 2008 bid for the White House and promises more of the same.