In the Aesop Fable "The Grasshopper and the Ant," there are moral, economic and political lessons for our time, or any other.
As the story goes, the lazy grasshopper wiles away his summer days singing and hopping and having an all-around good time while industrious ants work and march and struggle to carry kernels of corn to their anthills, storing up for the winter to come.
As you would imagine, the inevitable happens. Come winter, the ants have plenty of food to see them through the cold, fallow months. The fun-loving grasshopper has nothing. The grasshopper begs the hardworking ants to share their bounty, but they refuse.
Let's begin with the political lesson. Government, the grasshopper in this little morality tale, is constantly trying to get its citizens, the ants, to cough up more and more of what they've earned by the sweat of their brows so that it might pay for its own needs.
The latest of many recent examples occurred last week in Maryland where the majority Democratic legislature passed another tax increase on "the rich."
Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley and the legislators have lowered the definition of "rich" from the arbitrary $250,000 established by President Obama, to $100,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples filing jointly. Maryland residents will now be slapped with a new tax on top of already high state and local taxes, tying the state's new state-local tax bracket, according to the Washington Post, with that of "...the District's for fourth-highest in the nation." Especially in the expensive Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., incomes of $100,000 and $150,000 are barely middle class.
The tax hike caused the Democratic comptroller, Peter Franchot, to protest. Franchot told Washington radio station WMAL his fellow Maryland Democrats "try to be loyal and want to be supportive of their party, but they're becoming very frustrated with this long list of almost indiscriminate tax increases that we're faced with on an annual basis."
Only if the tax-and-spend "grasshoppers" start feeling the heat from the taxpaying "ants" are they likely to reverse course. Some of that heat may soon be coming from people who are fed up enough to act. There are reports of wealthy individuals and some businesses from states with high taxes, including Maryland and certainly California, moving to states with a lower state tax, or no state tax at all.