I am really sick of clueless morons spouting on and on endlessly about “carrots and sticks” and thinking they are channeling deeply resonant folk wisdom with their misuse of the idiom.
The way they are using it is totally wrong. They seem to be saying “we’ll give you this carrot, and if you don’t take it, we are going to hit you with this stick.”
These people are, quite simply, stupid. Not to mention the fact that they are living evidence that a world-class education can indeed be wasted on an alarming number of people (and often is, apparently).
The “Carrot and Stick” approach is a parable of American folklore. According to the legend, a farmer had a lazy mule who would not pull the plow. Whipping the mule didn’t help, so the farmer devised a clever strategy – he got a stick, and tied a carrot to the end and dangled it in front of the mule. The mule wanted the carrot, so he walked toward it, pulling the plow behind him.
But – the farmer never gave the mule the carrot; and eventually the mule caught on and stopped pulling the plow.
The moral of the story is, if you offer a reward, you have to follow through. It is most certainly not that the other party is going to get a thumpin’ if you don’t accept the carrot that is offered.