The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Crowdsourcing for Analogies

October 4, 2011

 Earlier today, I tweeted and blogged and even (dare I say it) facebooked to get some help.  The challenge: to come up with a good analogy to capture the incredibly strange idea that cutting foreign aid might be a way to address the US fiscal crisis.

My starting point: Cutting foreign aid to address the budget crisis is like an alcoholic cutting back on apertifs.

The responses thus far: 

  • Cutting foreign aid to address the budget crisis is like an alcoholic cutting back on chocolate liquor candies. Nominated by The Duck’s own Dan Nexon. A big improvement on mine.
  • Cutting foreign aid to address the budget crisis is like eliminating peanuts on all flights to address the price of jet fuel.  Nominated by Brandon Valeriano. Very 21st century economy.
  • Cutting foreign aid to address the budget crisis is like getting your hair cut in an effort to lose weight. From Mike Tierney. Perhaps the most perfect simile since both a hair cut and foreign aid do involve a slight but entirely meaningless change and are done for other reasons.
  • Cutting foreign aid to solve the budget crisis is like executing Troy Davis to reduce prison overcrowding. Via Chad Rector.  Yow!
  • Cutting foreign aid to address budget crisis is like an alcoholic cutting back on roses for your mistress, but keeping her.  Via Anonymous.  All I can say is: huh?
  • Cutting foreign aid to address budget crisis is like an obese dieter forgoing after-dinner mints. By Bill “I am not a terrorist” Ayres.  My co-author once again shares a similar mindset as I was thinking along such lines at first.

Of course,  the politicians who propose cutting foreign aid do not necessarily care that we IR scholars know that it is a very small part of the budget. They are playing on the well known perceptions of voters that foreign aid is a much bigger part of the budget.  And it is far easier to cut these dollars than where the money is really at: social security, medicare, defense and tax cuts.  So, anyway, I am still taking suggestions in the on-going contest to come up with a good analogy to cutting foreign aid to solve the fiscal crisis.

website | + posts

Steve Saideman is Professor and the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He has written The Ties That Divide: Ethnic Politics, Foreign Policy and International Conflict; For Kin or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism and War (with R. William Ayres); and NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone (with David Auerswald), and elsewhere on nationalism, ethnic conflict, civil war, and civil-military relations.