Time to Update an Aesop Fable

February 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm 5 comments

Aesop’s Fables have been classic tales for hundred’s of years. How many of us remember sitting and watching Disney’s cartoon version created in 1934. The Harvard

Got to maintain my lifestyle!

Classics, printed from 1909-1914, put Aesop’s fable this way:

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by; bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: “IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”

This simple little story carries with it a lot of wisdom. The idea of thrift being the foundation of a community is a good one. We have lost that attribute over the years and have replaced it with the negative attribute of consumerism that the grasshopper practiced acting like there would be no tomorrow.

Aesop wrote simple stories for simpler times. I think the fable needs to be updated to fit with where our society is now. I offer the following:

The Ant works very hard all summer long putting up his stores. He has gotten TIF money and government subsidies to build a very lucrative and large corporation. His Board of Directors has given him a very high salary and stock benefits package and while he paid his workers (the grasshoppers) the least he could get away with. His fellow businessmen and Board members grew fat on the profits the Ant’s company generated.

Winter comes and the Grasshoppers are now paying high heating costs, higher taxes due to cuts that benefited the rich, and higher mortgage payments because some slick banker looking for a bonus talked them into an ARM. The Grasshoppers take it in stride and hope for spring and warmer weather. Instead the Ant, in order to maximize his profits, laid off half of the Grasshoppers to maintain his large salary and perks. So the Grasshoppers started their own businesses with what little nest eggs they were able to put together and started competing with the Ant and his business friends.

In a short time the Grasshoppers started taking the Ant’s business away. They were leaner and meaner and able to respond to their customers needs faster. They provided outstanding customer service and a higher quality product because they cared about the customer and their product or service, not just the bottom line. They also networked with one another and traded work among themselves. They built a business community on service, quality, and efficiency. They paid themselves well but not too much and invested the rest of their profits in expanding their businesses and putting others to work that the Ant had laid off.

Eventually the Ant saw his empire crumble, his house was foreclosed on and his yacht repossessed. Around him sprang up a new community of hardworking, self-reliant interdependent, networking, neighbor helping progressive Grasshoppers who neither voted straight right or left but for who was the best for the job. As they prospered all boats rose in the harbor. They bought from their fellow Grasshoppers and patronized local businesses. They made their products here instead of overseas.

The Grasshoppers even offered the Ant a job so he didn’t have to go hungry. Every one ate, sang, and was happy.

I like the new fable. It has hope and I feel very strongly is the way we will create a strong and lasting economy.

I want to see all the Grasshoppers in the world prosper. If you’re a grasshopper give me a call and I’ll help you build your business. My contact info is:

Michael Irvin
Creative Project Manager
913.677.7060 cell: 913.530.7030
mirvin1129@yahoo.com

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dave Robinett  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Daniel Pink has written a book about the New Grasshoppers:

    Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself

    Reply
    • 2. mirvin1129  |  February 18, 2010 at 2:16 pm

      Dave,
      Thanks for the info. I’ll have to find the book. Sounds like a very interesting read.

      Reply
  • 3. Steve  |  February 18, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Ha, you forgot the bailout the guvmint gave to the ants! Free grasshopper money for the “too big to fail leaders” running the economy into the ground! Whoo-hoo!

    Reply
  • 4. Liz Craig  |  February 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Hey, how’d the hard-working ants become the bad guys? Everybody knows grasshoppers can’t run a business because they’re too busy playing beer pong!

    Reply
    • 5. mirvin1129  |  February 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Liz,
      Your thinking of the Locust. You know, they gather in those Frat House places.

      Reply

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