I first heard this metaphor from Stephen Covey. He pointed out, quite aptly, that in farming there were a series of steps that much be followed if a good harvest was to result.
The field must be plowed and well prepared for the seed to be planted. The seed must be sown properly. Then the weather must cooperate by providing rain and sunshine. The farmer must also take care of any weeds, disease or pests that imperil the emerging crop. Sometimes fertilizer is needed if the soil is not fertile enough, and for others, it can even be harmful, burning the crop.
The bottom line of his story was that after the right steps are taken the crop grows and matures and a bountiful harvest results. Covey used the metaphor of students cramming for an exam because they had not kept up their studies along the way. There is no such thing as cramming for the harvest.
In businesses, the failure to lay the proper groundwork can harm even the best new product or market launches, causing them to fail. In government, there is no way to rush the creation of jobs when the field has not been prepared in the right way and the crop not tended properly.
And yet, that is what the government is trying to do. By throwing money at the job problem, government is trying to rush the harvest by adding too much fertilizer, which can be detrimental to the crop, causing it to fail and having no harvest as a result.
There is the description of the U.S. jobs problem in a simple, yet graphic metaphor. Jobs are an outgrowth of other things done properly. They can neither be coerced into existence nor accelerated beyond their potential rate of growth when the environment for growth has not been properly prepared. You can’t rush the harvest. But you can destroy the crop in the process.
Simply throwing money at job creation is like the biblical parable of seed thrown on infertile ground or on pathways, where it has no chance to grow. Except that in America, the government flies over in big planes and broadcasts the seed all over the place—often indiscriminately. No wonder the jobs don’t grow.
Stimulus in the form of “pork barrel” projects, patronage and narrow special interests not only do not result in more jobs. It results in the waste of valuable money and time. Remember, all harvests take time for the crop to grow and mature.
Nature is rich with lessons if we will just observe and think about what the lessons teach us. In this case, to grow jobs, first the field must be well prepared, the seeds (money) well sown, and the crop (industries) well tended. You cannot rush the harvest. You can only do the right things in the right sequence, and then reap the harvest.