Everybody should be familiar with the ant and the grasshopper fable. If not, let me briefly summarize it: There’s an ant and a grasshopper. The ant works hard preparing for winter. The grasshopper does not. When winter comes, the grasshopper is cold and starving. What the ant decides after that depends on the version of the story.

What the ant does or should do is highly pertinent for someone pursuing financial independence. It won’t take more than a few years of savings to likely be wealthier than anyone you know personally.

This makes you an ant.

Now, it’s great being an ant, and I’m sure in some ways that I don’t understand, it is also great being a grasshopper.

J.D. Roth of GRS asked today when it is okay to judge. In my opinion, it is never okay to judge as long as, say, the ants stick to ant business and the grasshoppers stick to grasshopper business. After all, this is a value judgment and it is entirely subjective.

The problem comes at winter, when the grasshopper shows up asking for help. Then, it is in my opinion now a question of price rather than value and unlike value, which is subjective, price is an entirely objective matter. At this point, it is just to point out the lack of prudent behavior. The request grants that license.

Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.

… or something.

When it comes to humans, there is usually a history and a trend. It may be clear what the history is and what the trend is. Suppose the ant observes the grasshopper during summer and suppose the ant warns the grasshopper of the consequences and suppose the grasshopper ignores the warnings. Come winter, does this warning change the dynamics? What if it happens again and again?

But what about solidarity?

People vary when it comes to asking for help. Some will ask sooner than later. Others will ask later, much later. Some will never ask. Asking is typically too rare to develop the proper tit-for-tat strategy. One therefore has to pick up clues from other situation. Did the person help others in the past? Did the person spend his money on fun when he could have helped? Being an ant, I will be inclined to help a generous grasshopper, but I will never help one, who chose not to help others. This is a moral statement as well is a pure risk proposition. I’d likely build social capital with the former which could be turned into help later. With the latter, any social capital would likely not be convertible.

What do you guys say? Have you been asked to bail out spendy friends and family because you were the prudent one with the money? Did you do it? Would you do it again?

Daily Yakezie Short Carnival: The High Cost of Being A Moron @ Sustainable Life Blog, The Best Budget to Keep You From Living Paycheck to Paycheck @ Financially Poor, & The Emergency Credit Card @ The Wealth Artisan

Originally posted 2010-06-02 11:36:01.