A lesson from Aesop

Once upon a time, a wolf followed a flock of sheep, but he did them no harm. The shepherd kept a wary eye on him at first, knowing that he was a bloodthirsty beast. As the wolf continued to behave himself quite properly, however, the shepherd began to trust him and even left him to care for his flock when he was faced with the necessity of going into town. Needless to say – and as so many old adages teach us – not a single living sheep was to be seen when he returned. The moral of the story? Aesop is very clear: Anyone who leaves something to be guarded by someone who’s greedy is bound to lose it in the end. Hustlers by nature will always behave like hustlers. The fable may be very well known, but few seem to have learned anything from it. In modern terms, the hapless shepherd expected the wolf to control his instincts and show the proper «corporate social responsibility,» just as the government today expects it of industrialists and businessmen. But if such pleasant things don’t even happen in fairy tales, how could they possibly happen in real life? Sure, we have seen a handful of merchants rising to the occasion and slashing the price of, say, pasta, by four entire percentage points in a rare show of generosity. But before the government hails them as national benefactors, perhaps it should take into account the fact that the price of humble pasta had already been jacked by some 40 percent in a very short space of time. Development Minister Christos Folias – who has said that increased prices only exist on news bulletins – has his own way of looking at things. Thus, more important than the cost-cutting measures he has announced, his most urgent piece of advice is that we must stop watching the news at 8 p.m., lest we become swept up in the frenzy. Sure, that’s a solution too.