Sunday, September 18, 2011

Borrow and spend...

Is how metaphors become memes. Take one that's glided with swanlike grace into the stream of our economic discourse this summer:

With both parties competing for the mantle of austerity, they’re acting a bit like two crazed medeival (sic) doctors leeching a patient who’s already suffering from catastrophic blood loss.
That's Adam Serwer on July 28 of this year, regarding the pending debt ceiling deal. Three days later, when the deal was announced, behold Paul Krugman:

So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.
In tomorrow's column, Krugman is so taken with his adoptive rhetorical offspring that he's elevated it to an epic simile:

Doctors used to believe that by draining a patient’s blood they could purge the evil “humors” that were thought to cause disease. In reality, of course, all their bloodletting did was make the patient weaker, and more likely to succumb.

Fortunately, physicians no longer believe that bleeding the sick will make them healthy. Unfortunately, many of the makers of economic policy still do. And economic bloodletting isn’t just inflicting vast pain; it’s starting to undermine our long-run growth prospects.
 Serwer needs to up the ante.  Are we perhaps destroying the village to save it?

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