June 25, 2014

Horse 1702 - Comparing Apples and Oranges

As a client pointed out yesterday, comparing apples and oranges isn't as idiomatically incomparable as is made out.
Both are:
- fruits
- grown in orchards
- have seeds
- can be juiced
- are about the same size
- cost roughly about the same
It would be better to compare apples and cement mixers or as he pointed out, or as in the equivalent the Polish phrase which means to compare gingerbread and windmills.

What I found to be really strange is that from a botanical viewpoint, you can compare oranges with cashews, some kinds of chestnuts, both frankincense and myrrh, and even maple trees.
Apples on the other hand are in the Rosaceae family which includes Roses but also, pears, plums, apricots, peaches, almonds, photnias and hawthorns.
Even more bizarre was that in Roman, oranges were callled pomum aurantium or literally golden appple; this is similar to Hebrew where they're called tapuakh zahav (also golden apple).

Now to put this into some sort of context, this came up in relation to a company which had basically short changed its employees out of a 2% pay increase whilst at the same time paid out a dividend to its directors which was roughly seven times the amount that the pay increase would have cost the company.
Again we have an issue where two things which supposedly can not be compared, aren't as idiomatically incomparable as is made out.
One of the handy things about money is that it's directly comparable. One would even argue that the existence of money as a store of value and a measure of value is the very reason why all sorts of things are directly comparable. An apple that is worth 18 cents costs more than an orange which only costs 14 cents. Not only can you make direct comparisons, but you can plan out out many you'd like to purchase and... (my notes at this point spiral off into a tangent of rage).
When you are talking about making a comparison between a wage and a dividend, the direct comparison can be made to the exact dollar. Not only are comparing things which are not apples and oranges, or even apples and other apples, it's the same as comparing identical apples. The argument being made was that a dividend isn't the same as wages because they're inherently different things but when the decision to pay one or the other rests with exactly the same person, it is a bit of a stretch to then suggest that they're so different as with the idiomatic apples and oranges that they absolutely can not be compared.

What should have been said is that the owner of the orchard decided that their workers shouldn't have the share of apples or oranges that they were promised; rather that saying that comparing dividends and wages is like comparing apples and oranges and are idiomatically incomparable.

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