Letters: The grasshopper and the ant

Kai Ryssdal Oct 26, 2011
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Letters: The grasshopper and the ant

Kai Ryssdal Oct 26, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: Spent the day in Athens, Monday. Athens, Ga., that is, exploring the Greek debt crisis. And at one point, wondering whether the whole sad episode isn’t a little like a Greek tragedy.

Our resident classics professor Emily Allen Hornblower reminded me of the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. To recap, the grasshopper sings all summer, the ant stores food for the winter. The grasshopper comes begging for food and shelter when the weather turns colder; the ant says nuh uh. I made the case that maybe one could think of Germans as the hardworking ants, the Greeks the not-so-hardworking grasshoppers.

Maria Comninou is, as you’ll hear, a Greek native now living in Farmington Hills, Mich. She says I got it all wrong.

Maria Comninou: Those who least can afford it, on low salaries and on small pensions, pay for the folly of the top moneymakers. The only myth in this story is the myth of the “lazy Greek.” Even the crooks in Greece are not lazy.

Robert Power of Hummelstown, Penn., figures the story ought to go a little more like this.

Robert Power: The ant worked hard all summer, collecting fruit and vegetables and patching walls in the nest, while the grasshopper played guitar and sang all summer. Winter came, and the ant died from overwork. The grasshopper liquidated the ant’s estate and bought a beachfront condo in Miami, where he could play guitar and sing all year long.

Steve Prestemon of Los Angeles offers an alternative — with an extra character.

Steve Prestemon: A snake that whispered in the ear of the grasshopper, “go on, keep dancing, the ant will never let you starve, if you give me a cut, I’ll make sure he doesn’t. In fact, dance a little longer.” If the grasshopper is Greece and the ant Germany, then of course the snake would be Goldman Sachs and the other banks. And when it all came down, the snake just slithered away, hissing an evil laugh. Perhaps all us ants should let the snake starve this winter.

Snake, ant or grasshopper, you can send us your thoughts.

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