Tax Proposals Counter Law of Nature — Fable Suggests

I was hanging up from one of the usual unhelpful customer service calls with a credit card company the other day and the representative wished me happy holidays. Indeed, ’tis the season. So in the spirit of the weeks to come, I offer this LaFontaine fable.

We need to help each other. It’s the law of Nature.

The donkey one day felt like ignoring the rule and had no idea how much he’d miss it. He is, after all, a simple creature.

He was in the countryside, accompanied by his dog mate, not thinking about anything, serious about the work at hand. Their master followed. This master took a nap. The donkey took to the pasture. He was in a field where the grass was quite to his taste, though there weren’t any thistles, which he especially enjoyed. But there’s no time like the present and he couldn’t be picky. Even without his favourite, a feast so good rarely comes around. So our donkey decided not to let the absent delicacy deter him this time.

The dog, dying of hunger, said: Dear companion, will you crouch down, please? I’ll have my dinner from the breadbasket on your back.

No answer. Not a word. Our Arcadian donkey didn’t want to lose a moment, not one little bite. He turned a deaf ear for quite some time.

Finally, he responded: Friend, I advise you to wait until our master is finished his nap. When he wakes up, he will give you, without fail, your usual portion. He won’t be much longer.

With these words, a wolf emerged from the woods and came toward them. Here was another starving beast. The donkey called for help from the dog. The dog didn’t move.

He said: Friend, I advise you to run like hell, while you wait for our master to wake up. He won’t be much longer. Quick, get out of Dodge and speed those feet. If the wolf catches you, break his jaw. You just got new shoes, and you’d have me believe that you could knock him flat.

During this lovely discourse, Sir Wolf strangled the donkey without further ado.

I conclude that we must help each other.

If helping each other is still the law of nature, I sometimes have a hard time seeing it in operation these days. These are days where helping ourselves to as much as we can fit in our own bags and bank accounts is the way of the world. One example: a proposal of tax cuts for individuals with an expiry date, but eternal cuts for corporations (which already don’t pay their fair share). Provision after provision of the new tax proposal seems calculated to keep money in the deepest pockets. Abolishing the estate tax is like a return to feudalism, which Jean de LaFontaine would have been quite familiar with.

On a more personal level, for many years I understood the logic of the subway ads that advised me against giving to the homeless; reasoning along the lines of giving only encourages people to stay on the streets and interferes with the effectiveness of social service operations, or giving on the street enables people to spend their windfall on alcohol or drugs. These lines of argument may be correct and the homeless just need to wait for their master (aka government programs) to wake up. But as I rush past them, not wanting to miss a mouthful of grass, I find myself reaching into my wallet more often than I used to. Is the person going to spend my dollar finding oblivion? — maybe. Life might need some prettying up.

Maybe I’m just trying to buy some wolf protection insurance. Because we can’t keep going on like this, turning our backs on each other, tit for tatting while the master slumbers and the rich donkeys nibble the green.

What are these Fableogs?


Originally published at on November 17, 2017.

Tagged in Tax Reform, Fable, Helping Others, Feudalism, Homelessness

By Mina Samuels on November 17, 2017.

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Exported from Medium on March 17, 2018.



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