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Sir Winston Churchill: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Their Just Deserts


By —— Bio and Archives--October 18, 2017

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French physicist Blaise Pascal once wrote, “This letter is long because I hadn’t the time to make it short.”

Even though Pascal’s comment seems contradictory, it isn’t, as demonstrated in great short stories that have withstood the test of time by delivering essential elements — time, place, setting, plot, and characters — in a minimum of words.

The Ant And The Grasshopper

Aesop’s fables, which often use animals as characters and convey morals, never fail to do this. Even though this Greek slave lived in the Sixth Century B.C., children still love to read his stories, and adults — especially curmudgeonly ultra-conservative cynics like me — enjoy them because, with stick-poked-in-the-eye effectiveness, they point out human follies.

Recently I read a modernized version of Aesop’s “The Ant And The Grasshopper.” In the original story, the lazy, libertine locust never learned that one must be prepared for lean years — something ants never forget. The good-timing, gamboling grasshopper died; the industrious, provident ant survived.

In the updated version, the grasshopper panicked when winter arrived, not only because he was penniless, cold, and hungry, but also because he was painfully aware that the ant, snug in a warm home with a full cupboard, was blithely indifferent to his life-threatening situation.

When sensationalism-seeking media sharks got wind of his pitiful plight, they smelled blood. In a feeding frenzy, they threw their full support behind the grasshopper, and excoriated the ant.

Along with newspaper headlines blaring, “Calloused, heartless, deplorable, mean-spirited,” videos compared a once green, healthy grasshopper — now sickly and skeletal — and an amber ant, aglow in fine fettle, at a food-filled table, feasting with his fellows.

Never questioning the media’s veracity, the gullible hoi polloi were furious. They demanded to know how such inequality could exist in a land of plenty, and were convinced that ants amassed their wealth from grasshoppers’ toil.

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Justice must be served — the ant must pay! Exorbitant tax hikes were imposed, and he was fined for not hiring proportionate numbers of equal-opportunity grasshoppers, who unlike ants, punched time clocks, drew paychecks, and did nothing.

Public outcry became so overwhelming that the government confiscated what the ant had stored away for hard times, and redistributed it to the grasshopper and his ilk.

Even that wasn’t enough! When retroactive taxes were imposed that the ant was unable to pay, grasshopper goons confiscated his property. Imprisoned, the ant was never seen again.

The grasshopper moved into the ant’s cozy home, but the government couldn’t continue subsidizing his living expenses because it could no longer extort funds from the ant. Soon enough, the grasshopper’s government checks stopped coming.

The electricity was shut off, the house fell into disrepair, and the grasshopper suffered the inevitable fate facing him from the start: He froze to death.

The grasshopper’s demise reaffirms what Sir Winston Churchill once said: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

For the globe’s grasshoppers, the world’s ants know what that misery is: their just deserts.



Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran, former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer, and retired college teacher. His collection of short stories is available via Squarebooks.com, telephone 662-236-2262.

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