June 2016

A woeful fable

By Galen Larson

The Republicans remind me of a tale of woe told in an old fable.

A farmer had a small tract of land and it was hard to make ends meet. But he had a very good team of horses that worked together at any task he put before them. He also owned a pen of hogs he was raising for sale. After the crops were in and the horses had finished all the other chores he could put them to, he let them out to pasture for a time and they survived on the grass they had worked at keeping plush.

But the hogs had to be fed a steady diet to increase their weight and thus their worth in bacon.

It so happened that feed was getting short and expensive, so someone told him to bring in the team and put the hogs in the plush pasture to fend for themselves. Then, as the team was no longer working so hard and moving around so much, he could keep them on short rations.

Well, the hogs rooted up the pasture till there was no more feed for them there. He had to go back to buying feed to fatten them up. At the time he was in a quandary until someone said, “Take some of the grain from the horses to feed the hogs. Since they’re resting, they don’t need so much.” The advisor told him to reduce the team’s rations gradually so they wouldn’t notice.

Well, he took this advice and cut back a little each day and it seemed to be working. The hogs got fatter and the team seemed to lose a little luster but he thought he could make it up to them once he sold the hogs. After a time the horses began lying down quite a bit and the farmer thought, “Good, now they’re need even less feed.”

One day as some of the farmers gathered to hash out thoughts for the coming planting season, they noticed that the man with the hogs seemed lost in thought. “How are you doing?” one asked him.

“Not too well,” he replied. “My team of horses just up and died.”

“That’s awful! But you were able to sell your hogs, weren’t you?”

“Not for as much as I thought. They were too fat for bacon so they were only good for lard, which doesn’t fetch a decent price. I wound up keeping them but now I have no team to do my plowing and no money to buy another.”

The moral of the story? Bad advice is always free and there are no short cuts to success. You have to nourish a good team to keep them going. We can see this as the Republicans want to cut back constantly on the very things we need to nourish our “team” – such as education and infrastructure.

Oh, and one more thing. Be careful what kind of swine you vote for; they may just become fat hogs.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.