Swallow the hook, line and sinker

Perhaps you’ve heard a phrase along the lines of “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

It’s instructive to consider this from the standpoint of its economic impact, as well as its ramifications for political relationships.

Teach people to fish, and a governing authority can sell those people licenses. Store owners can sell bait and tackle, maybe boats.

This is how a free-market economy works.

But give people fish, and those individuals will be back later for more. At that point, ironically, it’s the people who are on the hook. Of course, more fish are needed – perhaps supplied by a minority of folks in a regulated and licensed fishing industry. All would owe their lives or their livelihood to those with authority over the allocation of fish.

One approach empowers individuals. The drawback is it requires work: fish or cut bait or build boats. The other method gives an authority power over people.

It’s not a matter of which system you prefer. It’s a matter of which is preferred by those with whom we have entrusted authority.