If You Give An Inch They'll Take A Mile
Giving someone a small concession leads to them asking for larger concessions.


(permanent link) added: 2010-11-21 13:50:10 sponsor: neoYTPism edited by: SKJAM (last reply: 2012-02-21 01:23:28)

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"If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk."

Giving someone a small concession leads to them asking for larger concessions.

Greed is cumulative, and giving in to it often causes more greed. Thus, once a person has been given something small, they will often ask for more, or even demand it. In fiction, this can lead to ever-increasing demands and the giver being cleaned out of whatever it was they were generous with.

This principle is often used in the Slippery Slope Fallacy, where it's depicted as an inevitable process that cannot be stopped or reversed once you begin. In reality, the giver can often say "no" at any time. It's also related to Moving the Goalposts, in which one party changes an agreement to set more conditions or to get greater profit.

This goes by many names, including the Camel's Nose.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In a Petshop Of Horrors chapter/episode, the adoptive parents of a cute little bunny/girl are warned to only feed it natural vegetables and clean water. But it begs so cutely for a cookie that they just can't resist. Just one couldn't hurt, right? Pretty soon it's gobbled down their entire supply of sweets and artificially flavored foods...and then the nightmare really begins.

Film
  • Cited but averted in Fast Break (starring Gabe Kaplan). Kaplan is a deli manager. Early in the film a homeless vet comes in asking for a handout. Kaplan says "I'm not going to see you tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, right?" Homeless man agrees, and Kaplan orders an order of knishes to go for the vet.

Folklore
  • There's an old fable about a man in a tent and a camel. When it rained, the camel asked if he could stick his nose in the tent out of the rain. The man agreed. The camel kept asking to come further and further into the tent, until the camel was completely inside. But then the tent was too crowded, so the camel threw the man out.
  • In Chinese culture, the "inch-mile" saying corresponds to the expression De Long Wang Shu, which is a quotation from the Book of Later Han about a Chinese general who took over Long (now Gansu) only to pursue further southwards into Shu (now Sichuan).

Literature
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Verruca Salt just got her Golden Ticket. Thanks Dad. 2 seconds later she wants another pony.
  • Is the entire point of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Music
  • Aki Sirkesalo, Finnish pop/Schlager singer has a song, where "I gave [her my] pinky, she took the whole hand" is a metaphor for a female sexual predator. The song's called Naispaholainen, meaning "she-devil".

Newspaper Comics

Real Life
  • It's the British government's entire position on kidnappings. Most recently seen in the case of Paul and Rachel Chandler.

Theater
  • This is a pair of lines in {{Evita]], in the song "Peron's Latest Flame."

Western Animation
  • In South Park, Cartman accuses the Family Guy owners of caving in to the manatee employees who will simply want even more concessions--it's a metaphor for not giving in to terrorists.
  • Disney's ''The Little Mermaid": "Teenagers. You give them an inch, they swim all over."

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