I recently heard someone refer to a person on welfare as a parasite. While I knew the commentator had no awareness of the real situation, I was disturbed. Not just because it was rude and classless, but because the person clearly does not understand society, or economics, or even what a parasite is.
Many people are on welfare because circumstances have conspired against them. Their stay may be temporary. It may even make them better citizens. There are few who prefer the life.
On the other hand, a successful parasite is an organism that the host does not notice. It makes the host work for its benefit without appearing to be a burden. People on welfare fail to meet those criteria, so they can hardly qualify as parasites.
I suspect that some, possibly many, politicians, institutions, union leaders, corporate executives, pundits, opinion makers, entertainers, activists, and religious leaders qualify as parasites. Some like Al Gore, the UN and David Suzuki are even respected.
Perhaps we should have the wit to notice and deprive the parasites of their success.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.