Guest Column: We were all once grasshoppers

July 1, 1993

When I left college after two years, my mother gave me some very good advice. She said I could continue to live at my parents’ house if I would save a portion of each paycheck for future uses. After less than three years, I had saved up enough money to make a decent downpayment on a house. More importantly, I had acquired a good habit. I was saving money.

Many of us are familiar with comparisons between ants and grasshoppers. From Aesop to Walt Disney, the ant has been lauded for solid work ethic, long-range planning, and specialization of labor. The grasshopper, on the other hand, has been considered frivolous, susceptible to misfortune, and primarily effective at stealing from the ant.

We all began as grasshoppers. As babies, we focused on eating, sleeping, crying, and filling our diapers. As we grew older, we developed habits along the way. In most cases, we chose these habits. Some choices are more conducive to success than others. In the words of Neal Peart of Rush in their song “Free Will,” “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Based on our decisions, or lack thereof, some become ants and others remain grasshoppers. Ants and Grasshoppers will examine these decisions and their ramifications.

According to Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, 60 percent of Americans own shares of stock, either through individual ownership, mutual funds, or pension plans. This is up from 20 percent in the Reagan years. While a Google search couldn’t verify Norquist’s claim (and you’re certainly welcome to run his or my numbers through your …umm…rubbish sensor), I’ll use his numbers for argument’s sake. I think America would be better off if that number hits 80 and 85 percent, even if we have to cut back on our reliance on lottery tickets for retirement savings.

Special awards:

Ants of the week: People who sent in their $10 to the airport to try to secure local flights. Hopefully, some of us will fly Rockford when we have the chance.

Hoppers of the week: Anyone involved in turning the jail situation into a snafu. Mis-leadership isn’t a good quality.

ANThology: On June 26, 1819, W.K. Clarkson Jr. patented the bicycle. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in what is now Sarajevo, beginning WWI.

Top of the ant hill: Mel Brooks on June 28, 1926, U.S. actor, comedian, and movie director.

Hopper of hoppers: John Dillinger on June 28, 1902, noted U.S. gangster.

Coming soon: good advice my Dad gave me.

Tim Huwe is a Libertarian activist and freelance writer.

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