Thursday, April 16

Ants and Crickets

So here’s the basic story.

  Once upon a time... one hot summer, a cricket sang cheerfully on the branch
of a tree, while down below, a long line of ants struggled damely under the
weight of their load of grains; and between one song and the next, the cricket spoke to the ants. "Why are you working so hard? Come into the shade, away from the sun, and sing a song with me." But the tireless ants went on with the work... "We can't do that," they said, "We must store away food for the winter.
When the weather`s cold and the ground white with snow, there's nothing to eat, and we'll survive the winter only if the pantry is full."
"There's plenty of summer to come," replied the cricket, "and lots of time to fill the pantry before winter. I'd rather sing! How can anione work in this heat and sun?"
And so all summer, the cricket sang while the ants laboured. But the days
turned into weeks and the weeks into months. Autumn came, the leaves began to
fall and the cricket left the bare tree. The grass too was turning thun and
yellow. One morning, the cricket woke shivering with cold. An early frost
tinged the fields with white and turned the last of the green leaves brown:
winter had come at last. The cricket wandered, feeding on the few dry stalks
left on the hard frozen ground. Then the snow fell and she could find nothing
at all to eat. Trembling and famished, she thought sadly of the warmth and her
summer songs. One evening, she saw a speck of light in the distance, and
trampling through the thick snow, made her way towards it.
"Open the door! Please open the door! I'm starving. Give me some food!" An
ant leant out of the window.
"Who's there? Who is it?"
"It's me - the cricket. I'm cold and hungry, with no roof over my head."
"The cricket? Ah, yes! I remember you. And what were you doing all summer
while we were getting ready for winter?"
"Me? I was singing and filling the whole earth and sky with my song!"
"Singing, eh?" said the ant. "Well, try dancing now!"
Well, so now you know the basic story, its obviously a metaphor and life lesson so that people should work hard and save. I used to be a cricket but with kids and the wife, its a bit ant(sy) now. Sometimes one uses the grasshopper instead of the cricket. Check out the link, its fascinating, I never understood so many angles to this story. I loved this indian take

An Old Story – The ant and the grasshopper story

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.

Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.


Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.

Mayawati states this as `injustice’ done on Minorities.

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper

Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Inquiry.

CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ‘ Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act’ [POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the winter.

Arjun Singh makes ‘Special Reservation ‘ for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions & in Government Services.
The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it’s home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV.

Arundhati Roy calls it ‘ A Triumph of Justice’.

Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice ‘.

CPM calls it the ‘ Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden ‘

Koffi Annan invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later…

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar
company in Silicon Valley, 100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India,


As a result of losing a lot of hard working Ants and feeding the lazy grasshoppers,

India is still a developing country…!!!

And the american version.

With what looks like imminent passage of the Mother of All Bailouts (following on the heels of a year’s worth of government-funded rescues of private homeowners, lenders, insurers, and the automakers), Washington has turned Aesop’s famous fable about prudence and hard work on its head. The time is ripe for a revised 2008 edition of “The Ant and the Grasshopper:”

In a meadow on a hot summer’s day, a Grasshopper was chirping and carousing his time away. He watched scornfully as an Ant nearby struggled to store up large kernels of food and build a secure nest. The Ant pulled overtime shifts to pay off his loans and accumulate retirement funds for the future.

“Give it a rest,” the Grasshopper said. “Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? Let’s party!” The Ant demurred: “I am planning ahead for winter and you should do the same.” The Grasshopper blew off the Ant, squandered his supplies the rest of the season, and abandoned his home while on vacation (paid for by tapping every last cent of his home equity gain) instead of holding down a job.

When winter came, the Grasshopper’s pantry was empty and his shelter ruined from neglect. The Ant, weary from planting, harvesting, and stocking up for months, was dining comfortably in his nest.

Cold, hungry, jobless, facing foreclosure, and up to his two pairs of eyeballs in debt, the Grasshopper limped to the Association of Community Winged Insects for Rescue Now and demanded recourse. The office was swamped with thousands just like him. ACWIRN immediately put the Grasshopper to work registering dead ants as new voters.

Funded with tax dollars from the rest of the meadow’s residents, ACWIRN organized mass protests at the Bank of Antamerica, ambushed its top officials at their private homes, harassed their children, and demanded that the meadow’s politicians halt all foreclosures (“We must keep Grasshoppers in their houses!”) and outlaw discriminatory lending practices against starving, homeless Grasshoppers (“Well-stocked shelters are basic insect rights!”)

The banking industry capitulated; the Orthoptera Lobby secured hundreds of millions of dollars in housing earmarks and grants and counseling subsidies to support the Grasshoppers with the shadiest credit and employment histories. Antie Mae, the meadow’s government-backed home lending giant, fueled the push for increased insect homeownership in the name of biodiversity. Its executives cooked the books and headed for the hills. Katie Cricket and the Mainstream Meadow Media joined the grievance-for-profit circus, profiling Grasshopper sob stories and drumming up ratings as bewildered Ants wondered who was looking out for them.

The banks drowned in toxic debt. More Grasshoppers fell behind on their mortgage payments. Bailout mania and panic gripped the meadow.

Our little Ant, minding his own business, heard a knock on his door one late winter night a year later. It was his old, sneering Grasshopper neighbor. With ACWIRN’s presidential candidate, Barack Cicada, now in office, the Grasshopper had been hired by the meadow as a tax collector.

“I’m here to take your provisions,” the Grasshopper cackled.

But it was the Ant who had the last laugh. “I’ve learned my lesson,” he told his shiftless friend. “Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? I’ve spent all my savings. I’m walking away from my mortgage. Thrift is for suckers,” the Ant said as he headed out the door, leaving the Grasshopper empty-handed.

But there’s this rather interesting economics paper on how we still keep on seeing grasshoppers and ants.

Savings behaviour seems to exhibit heterogeneity across nations, and within nations, too. Large changes in saving rates have been observed in the last decades that can be viewed as signs of the arbitrariness of saving. There is a long tradition in the savings literature that separates people into two groups: those who behave soberly (ants), and those who act in an extremely short-sighted fashion (crickets). A puzzle remains: why does an apparently inferior behavioural pattern persist? Our aim is to provide a model that exhibits the arbitrariness of savings by exploring the two-types idea, and also makes intelligible why both types can coexist in the long run. Our approach consists in setting up an agent-based model starting from a traditional production and factor market framework. The model features an evolutionary mechanism that promotes the behaviour conducive to the highest satisfaction of the consumption goal. Our main findings include the prevalence of non-ergodicity, and the genericity of non-stationarity. The model becomes stationary when the selection pressure is very high, and crickets are eliminated. Though in general ants have somewhat higher per capita consumption than crickets, and are less indebted, we have found cases where the total average consumption is higher with many crickets than without them.

So if you want people to save, crank up the selection pressure…funny, eh?

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