metaphor fight: handouts, safety nets

Place your bets and adjust your mouth-guards, everybody — it’s time for another metaphor fight! Today, the handouts face the safety net in what is sure to be an ugly, bloody, emotionally fraught, politically motivated battle for your brain.

These two terms describe exactly the same thing: Government money (or food vouchers) for people without jobs. Unemployment checks and food stamps, basically.

You may be thinking, “I get the idea, Wordmonster, but how should I FEEL about this? Is it good or bad for governments to give money/food to people who don’t have jobs?” Don’t ask me.* Ask the people who came up with today’s metaphors!

The safety-net people think of the American worker as a tightrope walker or maybe a trapeze artist — a highly skilled person doing something impressive. They hope nobody’s ever going to slip off the wire, but they put a safety net under it so that if the worker falls, she can get up again.

The handout people have a less favorable impression of the unemployed American. She’s a beggar, a worthless layabout who will — given the chance — immediately spend the government’s money on bottom-shelf vodka and salty snacks. She’ll be sitting in front of the same drugstore until the end of time, mumbling and snatching dollar bills out of your pockets.

Many people will pick one of these metaphors and run with it. You don’t have to do that. The world is not a simple place.

*Seriously please never ask me how you should feel.