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With strings attached? 带有附加条件

中国日报网 2023-05-19 11:43


Reader question:

Please explain “with strings attached” in this sentence: We are offered free tickets but with strings attached.

My comments:

They don’t have to pay for the tickets, but not without conditions.

They’re not allowed to give their tickets to someone else, for example. Not only that, they may be asked to be half an hour early. Or, if this is a show, they may not be allowed to boo, no matter how bad the performers are onstage.

Things like that.

That’s what “with strings attached” implies at any rate.

Literally, “strings attached” refer to, for example, strings or ropes attached to the collar of pet dogs. The strings are thus attached so that the pet dogs are allowed to roam freely in a limited area – as far as the lengths of the strings attached to their necks, that is.

The string serves as restraints, lest the pet get out of control.

So, the freedom is good, but the string is not so good.

That’s the situation facing the pet dog.

Hence, and by extension, “strings attached” is used to describe any offer that has unpleasant conditions which must be met and accepted as part of the deal.

If you accept the offer, you have to accept the strings attached as well. In other words, you have to take the good with the bad. If you don’t accept the extra obligation or responsibility, you won’t be able to enjoy the benefit of the offer.

Ah, well, for better or worse. Let’s read a few media examples to get a better feel for “with strings attached”, or without, as the case may be:

1. At first glance, zero percent financing may sound like a great idea - especially if you’re in the market for a new (or new-to-you) car. Essentially, zero percent financing means you don’t have to pay interest on your purchase (for a short time, at least).

That’s how dealerships rope you in . . . with the flashy promise of a nice car without all the extra strings attached. But when it comes to buying a car, the only way to do it without strings attached is to pay cash. (Psst – cash is always king.) We’re going to break down the basics of zero percent financing: what it is, how it works, who qualifies for it, and how to live without it.

What Is Zero Percent Financing?

Zero percent financing is a loan that doesn’t charge interest (for a period of time). At best, it’s a fancy marketing tactic dealerships (and other businesses) use just to get people in the door. And at worst, it’s a loan that offers you the opportunity to buy something you can’t afford with money you don’t have. This tactic is a great way to get people to purchase on the spot—with seemingly no consequences (at least up front).

The interest rate on this type of loan usually stays at 0% for anywhere from six months up to a few years. But there’s no such thing as a free ride, right? After the promotional period ends, the loan balance must be paid at a much higher interest rate.

How Does Zero Percent Financing Work?

Let’s say you test-drive that new-to-you Ford Explorer and the salesman asks you to head over to his desk for a “little chat.” You know what that means. He says that for the low, low price of $14,500, that pretty black Explorer is all yours. And to sweeten the deal, he says you can get it with zero percent financing for 14 months – if you qualify, of course (more on that later).

Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well sure, on the surface. People want to pay for interest as much as they want to pay for shipping (and no one likes paying for shipping). Car loans with zero percent financing are advertised as an awesome deal for you, but it’s the dealership who’s really benefiting. They use offers like this to drive sales on a slow-selling model or help make room for new inventory.

You might be thinking, What’s so wrong with that? Well, what I don’t want you to think is that zero percent financing is a screaming deal. Or that it’s free. Listen to me closely: Nothing is free.

- What You Need to Know About Zero Percent Financing, by Rachel Cruze, RamseySolutions.com, June 2, 2022.

2. NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with author and Johns Hopkins University financial history professor, Kathleen Day, on the history of the debt ceiling.


You may have heard this before. The federal government hit its legal debt limit in January - $31.4 trillion. This week, House Republicans approved a bill to let the country keep borrowing money, but with strings attached. President Biden says they’re unacceptable. Since 1960, Congress has raised, extended or revised the debt limit 78 separate times – 49 times under Republican presidents, 29 times under Democratic administrations. Kathleen Day is a business journalist who teaches financial history at Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School.

Professor Day, thanks so much for being with us.

KATHLEEN DAY: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: We’ve had a legal debt ceiling for more than a century. Why?

DAY: Because Congress is the keeper, constitutionally, of expenditures. And so when we were spending less money, Congress needs to approve every time the government had to borrow money. But then with World War I, they had to do it so often, they just said, enough of this. Let’s just give you the authority to do – to borrow money up to a certain limit. And so ever after, we've had these debt limits. So Treasury can borrow up to a certain amount. And then when it hits that amount, it has to go back to Congress and get authorization.

SIMON: You’ve called the debt ceiling a useful reminder.

DAY: I think it is. I know that’s not a popular thing to say, but I do think it's important because borrowing is a serious business. It’s just too bad that elected officials in politicizing the debt ceiling have started to use it as a wedge to talk about budget cuts, when, really, the time to talk about budget cuts is in the budget process.

SIMON: Do we need to remind ourselves, why is an onerous debt a bad idea?

DAY: So this goes back to Jefferson and Hamilton. Jefferson was always worried. He understood the utility of debt. He just under – he also understood the – for him, the bigger worry was the downside if you get in trouble with it. Whereas Hamilton understood that, yeah, there’s that downside, so you got to watch it, but the good that it can do is required for an industrial growing economy, which he envisioned the United States would become. So there’s good debt and bad debt. Debt is just debt. It’s the people that either use it wisely or don’t.

SIMON: Yeah. But when the debt is $31.4 trillion, that’s eye rolling, isn’t it?

DAY: Maybe. But we’re an eye-rolling country. We’re big. Now, that is about 120% of our economic activity, and that’s about 2 1/2 times more than it has been traditionally. Historically, there’s a reason it has gone up, most of it because of tax cuts. And it’s not good to spend more than you anticipate having. So those were unfunded tax cuts, which is really not a smart thing to do. And one of the reasons it’s not smart is that you might have an emergency. And in fact, we did. It was called COVID.

- Congress has revised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960. An expert explains why, NPR.org, April 29, 2023.

3. Donald Trump once said that he “could stand in the middle of New York’s 5th Avenue and shoot someone and never lose a vote.” As far as today’s Republican Party is concerned he’s probably right. Now however the “chickens may be coming home to roost,” as they say. The Republicans are certainly displaying contempt for this nation’s laws these days with Justice Clarence Thomas displaying his own thoughtless and illegal acts toward revealing gifts and monetary benefits that he received from a GOP megadonor over the last 20 years. All with no strings attached of course.

The Republicans are screaming politics and are busily “investigating” everyone that doesn’t wear a MAGA hat. I’m sure that they aren’t the only wealthy people who are, shall we say “reluctant” to be truthful Democrats included.

But Trump is a special case. It’s the way the man has always lived. He’s a morally bankrupt human being and up to now he’s always gotten away with it because of his wealth and power. He and companies he’s been involved with have been sued more than 3,500 times according to USA Today. He deserves everything he gets from his legal entanglements and maybe for once, justice for all will actually be true.

Don Curtis


- LETTERS: Consequences loom for Trump, other GOP scofflaws, HeraldNet.com, April 25, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


No two ways about it? 别无选择


Best foot forward? 留下一个好印象


Flipping the switch? 按动开关


All in? 押上全部


As dialed in as anyone? 专心致志

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