Winter is coming. The phrase was made popular with the success of the Game of Thrones series, but its resonance is elemental. Even in the height of summer, when a couple inches of snow sound like a refreshing break from the heat, contemplating the approach of winter triggers the impulse to prepare; to stock up. As any Midwesterner can attest, the thought of being caught, unprepared and lacking, in the dead of winter is enough to turn just about anyone into a prepper.
Just like the ants in the popular fable, it’s understood that work done in the spring, summer, and fall is to provide for the time when winter impedes the acquisition of resources necessary for life. As is often the case, this lesson, beautifully portrayed in a tale told to children, contains a truth which is vital to their development and functional participation in society. The ants work while the weather is nice; the grasshopper enjoys the nice weather while mocking the ants. The ants warn the grasshopper that he needs to prepare for bleaker times ahead; the grasshopper laughs and continues the party. Winter comes; grasshopper dies. Sorry Walt Disney, in the original version, the ants didn’t extend a grasshopper entitlement program to the shiftless-ne’er-do-well. They kept the door locked and turned up the Jimmy Buffet, content to bask in the fruits of their hard work and self-discipline.
The connection between the characters in the fable and the general character of our nation is unmistakable. As the Left’s punitive war on achievement continues apace, the number of ants in America continues to shrink. Much like the producers in Atlas Shrugged, the achievers in America have grown weary serving in their dual-role of culprit and scapegoat. We are told that the successful among us are to blame for the problems we have, and at the same time, they are coerced to involuntarily serve as the salvation from these problems through their sacrifice. So, like John Galt, they are disappearing; but instead of retreating to form an objectivist paradise, as Rand’s characters did, many of our ants are joining the ranks of the grasshoppers.
Business after business is realizing that the most important number in the CEO’s rolodex is their corporate lobbyist in Washington. Our bureaucratic regulators have engendered such a culture of corporate cronyism that businesses are forced to fall into line if they want a good spot at the taxpayer trough. So it follows that many of our newest grasshoppers are not lazy bums, but productive bums who are willing to play ball with Uncle Sam in order to avoid onerous regulation and financial deprivation. If Aesop were writing his tales today, no doubt he would include the unionization of the grasshoppers, leading to a very productive “protection racket” offered to the ants by the Grasshopper Fiddlers Local #1.
The ants’ warning about the arrival of winter does not carry the same weight that it once did, when our civilization was more dependent on the agrarian economy. Thanks to globalization, we can still get fresh produce and grain throughout the dead of winter. But the deeper meaning behind the ants’ warning is timeless. Winter is coming for Western Civilization and the work we do (or don’t do) today will be our provision in the days and years ahead. Our Grasshopper Government has done their best to make sure that we will be economically damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The fiscal realities facing most states and counties, to say nothing of the federal debt tsunami which hangs over us all, virtually guarantee that mere belt-tightening is not going to be enough. At some point over the next decade or so, our debt bubble will collapse and winter will truly arrive.
But taking one step further, we have a more significant reckoning ahead, if we refuse to make the most of these days we have left in the autumn of Western civilization. Yes, the fiscal realities are frightening and far-reaching, but the spiritual and moral reckoning is more dire still. The character of our country is quickly changing from a nation of individuals who would wordlessly shoulder the task long-thought impossible, to a nation of demographic tribes which vie to see who can lodge the most grievous complaint with their bureaucratic administrator in the hopes of financial mollification.
Winter is coming. The time to prepare for physical, economic, and spiritual deprivation is now. Our government seems to be too-big-to-fail, but we know it is not. There is no nation under God immune from failure. Now is the time to help each other become as self-sufficient and well-provisioned as possible. The answer is not joining the grasshoppers, as so many ants have done over the past few years, but to raise up stronger and smarter ants, and to remain prepared to slam shut the door to the ant-hill when our feckless leaders come knocking at the onset of winter’s chill embrace.
Image: Courtesy Disney, 1934