Politics & Fairy Tale Metaphors

It is the morning after the current President of the United States has released his tax plan. And the way people are talking about it in today's paper—well, it struck me.

Per Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group, as quoted on the front page of the New York Times: "It seems the administration is using economic growth like magic beans: the cheap solution to all our problems. But there is no golden goose at the top of the tax-cut beanstalk, just mountains of debt."

Then we have my own beloved Gail Collins (yeah, I know she's not actually mine, but a girl can dream): "The idea that huge tax cuts will gin up the economy so much that everything will balance out is a beloved fairy tale. It can be found in the same book as 'The Beauty Starves the Beast,' which tells the saga of a handsome prince who cut down a thicket of taxes and was saved from a witch's curse with Congress arrived with matching cuts in spending."

Funnier—sure. But still…here's the thing: People love fairy tales. Truly we do. They are part of our whole belief system, wired in early on. The magic beans? They worked! That's the whole point of magic beans. And I do see, I promise, what people are going for here. But we live in a culture—we form a culture—where calling something a fairy-tale wedding is a compliment. So maybe hold off on the invoking of our ancient and honored magical roots as something laughable, as the perfect metaphor for a crappy tax plan. Do not mess with the magic, it's powerful stuff. Either use its power for your own side, or call something crappy and misleading as what it is, not magic beans (which are, let's face it, awesome) but self-serving con artist bullshit.

3 thoughts on “Politics & Fairy Tale Metaphors

  1. I loved this about fairy tales and bad metaphors. News writers desperately search for the next cute turn of phrase…


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