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September 17, 2012 / 74

It’s A Frog’s World (first posted on June 2, 2010)

Lest you think that this is another cute little fiction piece, I must say right off that it’s not. It’s an economics piece – and it’s deadly serious.

I live in a very rural area. Here there are people we refer to as “big fish in a little pond (BFILP).” Bigger cities and metro areas eat this size of fish for breakfast because with the larger body of economic water, the fish there can grow MUCH larger, and those BFILPs don’t look so big, and just can’t keep up with the monster fish.

In nature, there are many environments – and these can change over time, or in a blink of an eye. The mouse that is doing extremely well in his little grass nest under the barn is suddenly in great danger when the rains come and flood the barn. The fish, large or small, aren’t overly bothered by the flood. But when the flood dries out, when the waters recede, the fish can be stranded in a puddle far from the stream or pond, and now the mouse is doing well, but the fish is dying – and the larger the fish, the faster they die.

The keys to understanding this little piece are that different kinds of creatures thrive in different environments, and that environments change.

Now consider the frog. In the big pond or lake, frogs are food for the big fish from the time they’re hatched to be tadpoles, to the time they grow old (if they do). And in the little pond frogs are also food! But when the fish come after them, the frog can do what the fish cannot – it can hop up onto dry land. So a frog is more flexible than a fish. In some environments, frogs are kings, places where there is enough water for the frogs to hatch eggs, yet not enough for there to be fish. In other places frogs are struggling to survive because there are too many hungry fish.

Leaving aside the reality that, when frogs go to the land from the water, they may escape the fish only to run into a large bird or fox, thus changing one predator for another, we can see that frogs have better chances of survival than fish because they are more flexible in the environments they can survive in.

As economic creatures, I’d suggest that most people are fish. You have your Mega-corp fish, and your small ag town grain elevator owner fish, and you have your waitress fish, and so on. Various sizes of fish – but fish just the same. When conditions change, they try and try to maintain their positions in the fishy hierarchy of life. But no matter what they do, they are still fish and the environment no longer favors fish.

And you have your frogs too. The science teacher at the local school who does electrical work for people in the town in his spare time, and operates a little farm too would be a frog. If the farming doesn’t pay, and he gets laid off from the school, he can still do electrical work.

By now I think you can see where I’m going with this. It has taken me a while to get here – but we’ve arrived.

As the economic environment changes around us, it is time for us to become frogs. I don’t care if you were a fish last week – get over it. You NEED to become a frog now. As the economy becomes more deadly and more challenging, adaptability, diversity, and tenacity will be required for you to survive the coming floods and dry spells. In times of rapid economic change, as the title says, it’s a frog’s world.

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