Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A week or so ago, I published a post called For the Common Good. It didn't generate any comments here but at Weather Underground received over 200. One of those comments was the adage of give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he can eat every day. There's a lot of truth in that adage. It does ignore the components that need to be in place before one can teach another to fish. The person being taught needs to have a place to cook, in reasonable health, the tools necessary to catch a fish, a place to keep the fish, clean and unpolluted waterways were fish can thrive, and a way to get to the fishing spot.

In 2006 when budget hearings were being held, Congressman David Price made the following plea:

Mr. Speaker, colleagues will remember the biblical story of the prophet Nathan coming to the might King David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who had many sheep but who took the one little ewe of a poor man to feed a visiting friend. David flew into a rage at the rich man and proclaimed that anyone who would do such a thing deserved to be put to death for abusing his power and showing so little compassion. And Nathan said to David, "You are that man". This story should lead us to look into the mirror: Are we in danger of becoming "that man"? The Republican budget removes support four housing, education, Medicaid, community development, and small business lending. It raises taxes on the poor. And it does all this so the Republicans can afford new tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. If there was ever a moral issue before this Congress, it is that one.

When my son was younger, I taught him to fish. He learned well and was soon catching more and bigger fish than I.

The thing is, I, and many like me, who come from backgrounds were opportunities were limited have benefited from programs that have taught us to fish. Funding for public education, programs such as Section 8, food stamps, public transportation and other similar programs have given many the option of learning to fish. Once basic needs were taken care of, programs such as Pell Grants enabled us to learn to fish. Many, like me, now pay taxes so that others can learn to fish.

To be able to learn to fish in order to support oneself is the basic premise of so-called entitlement programs. They are an investment in our country's future. These programs make it possible for many to pass on newly learned skills and thereby lend a helping hand to others.

It takes more than a pole to teach a person to fish. It takes roads, clean water, shelter, transportation, teachers, clothing, etc.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I don't even know how to fish and I never had the opportunity to do so.
I always wondered what it would be like to fish.
Maybe one day I'll get a chance.

I agree that certain programs are necessary but most times the government just doesn't see the point and then it's canceled.

I don't know of any programs here in Ontario,Canada where they would teach you to fish. Most recreation programs here you have to pay money to use.