Bet many people have heard of this tale, some of us have probably lived it growing up. You have this friend, lets call her Betty and she has always wanted this big aquarium with lots of fish in it. Well one day she gets a windfall and decides to liven up her apartment with an aquarium.
So with much fanfare she installs in her living room a 20 gallon model, lays in gravel and a few rocks, some plastic plants, clean water, and of course various colorful goldfish of varying sizes. And of course a good supply of dried fish flake food. Over the weekend all is grand as she admires the cute fish swimming in the tank. And every time she feeds them, they swim to the surface.
Alas, things start to go wrong after a few days and Betty is not happy as the fish start to get sluggish. Being a novice fish fancier and recalling how active the fish became when she fed them, so she gives them more food than what the store recommended. And yes the fish respond with vigor, but a few days later Betty is horrified. Coming home she finds all of her precious goldfish floating atop the water with fish food covering the surface and the dead fish.
Betty calls up a friend who had an aquarium and tells them of what has happened. The friend listens and pauses before answering. Betty’s distraught face turns into a mask of horror as her friend asks if she had various things like a little heater, the air pump to aerate the water, or even a small algae eating catfish. She answers in an ashamed tone of voice that she had not done so. In a gentle voice her friend tells her the goldfish probably died of stagnant water and over-feeding. Betty has fresh tears rolling down her cheeks as she thanks her friend for the information and hangs up. She turns back to looking at the tank now populated with dead fish while turning over in her mind what she has just learned. Sometimes it takes tragedy to learn wisdom.
Now all of you are probably wondering why I am even writing this little story, well I guess this could be called a parable of our times. Imagine instead of Betty, it’s the US Government. The aquarium tank is the economy. The goldfish are various companies and municipalities in financial dire straights. And the fish food is printed money. Sometimes throwing money at a problem is the worse thing to do when a few simple things can resolve the problem before it becomes a tragedy.