From Racehorse to Workhorse, by Bill McKibben

Selection from Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet

Here’s a better metaphor:  the economy that has defined our Western world is like a racehorse, fleet and showy.  It’s bred for speed, with narrow, tapered legs; tap it on the haunch, and it accelerates down the backstretch. But don’t put it on a track where the rain has turned things muddy; know that even a small bump in its path will break its stride and quite likely snap that thin and speedy leg.  The thoroughbred, like our economy, has been optimized for one thing only:  pure burning swiftness.

What we need to do, even while we’re in the saddle, is transform our racehorse into a workhorse—into something dependable, even-tempered, long-lasting, uncomplaining.  Won’t go fast, will go long; won’t win the laurel, will carry the day.  The high praise for a workhorse—for a Shire or a Belgian or a Percheron—is “she’s steady.”  “She can pull.”   We’re talking walk or trot or jog, not canter or gallop.