Steve in Dennis, Massachusetts, remembers a cartoon that showed a boy trying to persuade a donkey to pull a cart by holding out a carrot suspended from a stick. Is that the origin of the expression carrot and stick? The original metaphor involved the idea of motivating an animal with intermittent rewards and punishment — that is, proffering a carrot or threatening with a stick. It didn’t mean always holding the carrot out of reach. This is part of a complete episode.