Fishers of money

With the Nevada Legislature’s failure to pass a tax package at deadline Monday, a few legislators proved a point. No matter how sacred a duty a person is elected to perform—in this case, recreating the structure for a government by, for and of the people—there are those who will shirk their duty. What we’ve seen this session is the triumph of a government by, for and of business.

The rhetoric the duty shirkers have used to hide their agenda has not changed since the Legislature opened on Feb. 3. “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

This argument is supposed to illustrate the confused thinking of tax-and-spend government officials, but frankly, it’s baloney; it’s a cliché. Democracy and society are supposed to be about us Americans taking care of the weaker among us—the young, the elderly, the poor.

For lack of an indictment any worse than the one those legislators have already labeled themselves, “failures,” we thought we’d offer a final dismissal of the cliché—just so those who have to hear it a few more times will have a few quick rebuttals when another unthinking oligarch spews it at them.

So the next time, someone says to you, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime,” you can say, “That’s true, but everybody knows that even expert fishermen get skunked all the time. That fisherman should not starve when the man next to him has a stringerful.”

People with children in public schools can offer a more apropos comeback. “That’s right, moron, but if you don’t pay the teachers of fishermen, there will be no one to teach anyone to fish. If we pay teachers of fishermen less here than our neighboring states do, then our students of fishing will receive inadequate instruction because the good teachers of fishermen will go elsewhere. And when our students find themselves without fish or even the wherewithal to buy a fishing pole, they’ll steal your fish—and then you can pay for maintainers of aquariums.”

Christians can say, “That’s true, but when Jesus Christ had the opportunity to offer a sermon about the benefits of live bait, he chose to pass out bread and fish, so people could worry about something more important than where their next meal was coming from.”

Families with older or sick members can say, “That’s true, but sometimes even the hardiest fishermen get sick, lose their tackle to high waves; sometimes, they even drown. Sometimes they just don’t come around with the catch. Should their innocent children starve because you want mom to take a correspondence course in treble hooks?”

The bottom line is that society requires that its members are given both the skills necessary to feed themselves on a daily basis and a ready hand when the weather turns temporarily ugly. Politicians who spout platitudes in order to assuage their own consciences should be forced to fish for their dinners, but they won’t because they’ve spent the last 147 days doing favors for the people who will stock their freezers.

If you haven’t, please, register to vote. There will be a lot of important stuff to decide next election.