Buridan’s Ass: Pick your poison

It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein an ass that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it will die of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other.

.. In Buridan’s parable the donkey is asked to choose between two desirable, even life-saving, options. For the analogy to get closer to the mark to today’s predicament, we would have to be the hay forced to choose between two competing hungry asses.

In other words we have managed to flip Buridan’s paradox on its head. We are being asked to pick our poison. We are being asked if we’d prefer to be mauled by a lion or a tiger.

..  What they don’t seem to understand is that protectionism only gives greater power to corporate lobbyists in Washington.

.. A few days before that, he wrote another stinging rebuke: “Protectionism via tariffs is a regressive tax and would almost certainly exacerbate income inequality. The people who benefit the most from low-cost imports from China and sold at Wal-Mart or Target are the working poor.”

.. Throw ten pacifists into a gladiatorial arena and tell them only one may leave the Coliseum alive, some will still refuse to pick up their swords. But some won’t. A passionate opponent of torture, when actually presented with the certain threat that a bomb will go off underneath his family may stick to his principles, or he may pick up that power drill.

I don’t particularly like these analogies, but I can’t think of better ones right now.