I would like to tell you a story…
“There was once a young man who was given a large estate from his father. It was a beautiful piece of land with rolling hills, rivers and streams cutting through it, enough livestock to feed his current family and provide his children and their children with all of life’s essentials for countless generations to come.
His father’s only request to his son, in accepting that land, is that he had to hand it down to his children in the same or better condition than when he received it. The Son’s reply was “Of Course Father, Only a fool would want to hand his child anything less!”
So when the young man received the land, he was excited and his enthusiasm gave him the motivation to work countless, tireless hours on the land. His efforts were rewarded with great harvests and he had no trouble living. His wealth grew.
As time went by he began to buy the latest products to make his life even better… even more rewarding. And as he acquired these different items, he was no longer giving the land the time he used to give it. His harvests began to shrink because he spent so much more time on his games, recreations and toys.
So he hired his neighbors to work the fields. And as his neighbors worked the fields, the Son’s harvests grew once again.
And as his neighbors worked the fields and got their share of the lands profits, they saw all of the toys and free time that the Son was now benefitting from… and they grew jealous. They decided they too wanted these things for themselves. So they demanded more wages from the Son.
The young man soon found himself in a situation where he could no longer afford to pay the workers, for the land could only produce so much and not more with the resources he currently had. Not wanting to go back to the daily physical toil of working the land with his own hands, he sought out the advice of a banker.
The Banker told him he could have it all and even more. He could continue to buy those things that he wanted, pay his workers more money and even take more time off. All the young man would need to do is to agree to give the banker a percentage of the future profits, make a small payment every month and pledge the land to the banker if the farmer ever defaulted.
So the young man entered an agreement with the banker. And life was good once again. The Son was spending less time working the land and spending more time on the recreational aspects of his life.
He thought he was brilliant and said to himself “How my father would have been proud of me… I have the farm yielding more harvest than it has ever yielded, I have provided my neighbors with opportunity to better their lives and I am accumulating so much other material wealth to give to my children… The Legacy I am creating will last forever.”
In the meantime, his neighbors had copied what the landowner’s son had done… and they too had now hired their own helpers so that they could spend less time working the land themselves and more time appreciating the finer things in life. This cycle went on for years.
But soon enough the son found himself in the very same situation he had found himself in earlier… Wages had escalated, profits were down and the land was becoming barren from overuse.
His workers wanted more, His workers – workers wanted more. Neighbors needed more and he needed more. The Son began to sell off his possessions in order to meet the demands for more pay but soon there were no more possessions. Soon the Son could no longer make the minimum payments to the banker. It all came tumbling down.
The Banker eventually seized the land and evicted the son, his entire family and every single neighbor from it. The Son had lost what his father had given him.
At anytime, the Son could have simply gone back and worked the land himself … but he didn’t. And even though he said he wanted to hand the land down to his children… every action he took had exactly the opposite effect.
He wanted it all. Thought he could have it all … and in the end he was simply wrong.
Only a child thinks they can have it all… and only a fool thinks they can have it all without consequences.
Originally Written in May 2009, Published in Telegram and Gazette under my “We The People” Blog Column