There are a lot of analogies out there about how the American economy is a train headed for a cliff and Congress is arguing about how to stop it from going off the cliff. I think I’ve got a better one.
Once upon a time there was a train. It had two conductors, Ronny and Donny, and every now and then the passengers would change their minds about which one of them should be guiding the train. Now the train was climbing a mountain, because it seemed that this led to (ahem) a higher standard of living then if it remained on the ground. (The farther up they went, the more wood from trees it took to keep the train going, but they just kept going farther up the mountain to get more trees.) Soon the train was very, very far up the mountain. The air was foggy, and they couldn’t tell how much higher the mountain went, but they knew that eventually they would get to the top and that the train tracks ended there, and there the train would crash. So the passengers built a catapult on top of the engine, and had Ronny and Donny launch a big boulder that landed somewhere ahead on the tracks, figuring that they would stop the train when they got to the boulder.
Sooner or later the train approached the big boulder. The passengers told Ronny and Donny that they wanted to keep going up the mountain for now, so they chose one of them to pick up the boulder and launch it farther along the tracks. This continued on for several years, and sometimes the passengers would change their minds about who should be in charge of kicking the boulder along the tracks, too.
One day while Donny was conducting the train and Ronny was in charge of the boulder, the train got close to the boulder again.
“Go move the boulder, Ronny,” Donny said.