The Squirrel and the Grasshopper

The text below was forwarded to me a few years ago and I rediscovered it today. I’ve edited it to take out Australian specific references. The Squirrel and the Grasshopper story really resonated with me when I first heard it as a kid. I thought the squirrel was prudent. I’m sure other kids felt sad for the Grasshopper. I propose everyone can be divided into two groups – those who side with the squirrel and those who side with the grasshopper.
ORIGINAL VERSION

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
MODERN VERSION
The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed.
A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving.
The media shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food and informs people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty.
Do gooders demonstrate in front of the squirrel’s house. A Lefty Politician rants in an interview that the squirrel got rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his ‘fair share’.
In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer, and creates The Grasshopper Housing Department. The squirrel’s taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders, for the work he was doing on his home, and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work.
The grasshopper is provided with a Grasshopper Housing Department house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrel’s food is seized and re-distributed to the more needy members of society – in this case the grasshopper.
Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize his home.
A 60 Minutes special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel’s food, though spring is still months away, while the Grasshopper Housing Department house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn’t bothered to maintain it. He is shown to be taking drugs.
Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshopper’s drug ‘Illness’.
The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him.
Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery.
A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost $10 million and state the obvious, is set up.
Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers.
The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose.
The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison.
The squirrel’s taxes are increased to pay for law and order, and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.

1 comment to The Squirrel and the Grasshopper

  • Ron, this is a little bit different version of the parable than I have previously heard, but is an uncomfortably accurate depiction of the modern political process. We need to turn the tide to get people to recognize the benefits of industriousness and foresight in our lives. Thanks for posting this. People need to see it and heed its warning.

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