Let Them Have Cake

Megan McArdle (who uniformly offers interesting insights into economics, often with incisive implications for politics, i.e., she often agrees with me, or I with her), has some very worthy thoughts on the politics of tax cuts/delays/increases etc., and their political implications, that won’t offer much solace to Democratic dreams of restoration, and I urge all to read them.

But I really want to kvetch, Andy-Rooney like, about one thing that she said (and this is a long-standing complaint).

She uses the well-worn cliche “have their cake and eat it too.”

Am I the only person in the world to whom this phrase makes no sense, or at least, no obvious point? If I have a cake, of course I can eat it too. If I am the owner of a cake (and I assume that having implies ownership, what with the other old saw about possession conferring 0.9 legality), then I can do anything I durn well please with it, including eating it, feeding it to the dog, throwing it against the wall for art, or encasing it in resin and dropping it on Al Qaeda along with fruitcakes.

A much more meaningful thing to say would be, “eat my cake and have it too.” You see, it’s almost the same thing, but to paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference between the right word order and the almost-right word order is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

My way, it immediately conveys the intended meaning–that someone wants to consume the cake, but still have it afterward, which is, of course, not possible.

I therefore declare my (likely lonely) crusade to get people to start using this hoary old expression correctly, if they continue to insist on using it at all. Expect me to shortly set up a web site for this purpose at eatitandhaveit.org…