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You know (hypothetical) Larry, the CEO's third cousin, who was hired on an important and well paid position even though he totally sucks at it, dragging the entire department down, but the CEO keeps him and blames everything on lower level employees, reducing their pay and rerouting it to Larry?

Is there an idiom in English for this kind of situation?

To clarify, the idiom should reflect the actions of the CEO. In my native language there is an idiom, roughly translating to "keeping someone on the feeding lot" although I feel like the context is diminished in English, it sounds like fattening cattle, while the original context is "keep feeding someone who hasn't earned or deserved it" but even more pronounced, not simply one who hasn't deserved it, but someone who actually doesn't deserve it.

marked as duplicate by Dan Bron, curiousdannii, John Clifford, BiscuitBoy, Jim Mar 15 '16 at 5:32

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    nepotism. – Dan Bron Mar 12 '16 at 13:40
  • @DanBron - thanks for this one, I didn't know it, however it is a term not an idiom. – dtech Mar 12 '16 at 13:41
  • Fair enough, fair enough. – Dan Bron Mar 12 '16 at 13:42
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    "It's not what you know, but who you know." would cover this situation. – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 13:42
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    I am looking for something more graphic, like say "keep feeding a runt cow" – dtech Mar 12 '16 at 13:43

Consider white elephant

An expensive but useless possession.

An unwanted or useless item, as in The cottage at the lake had become a real white elephant-too run down to sell, yet costly to keep up , or Grandma's ornate silver is a white elephant; no one wants it but it's too valuable to discard .

This expression comes from a legendary former Siamese custom whereby an albino elephant, considered sacred, could only be owned by the king. The king would bestow such an animal on a subject with whom he was displeased and wait until the high cost of feeding the animal, which could not be slaughtered, ruined the owner. The story was told in England in the 1600s, and in the 1800s the term began to be used figuratively.

  • Why is an albino elephant expensive to feed? Does it only eat albino vegetation? – dtech Mar 12 '16 at 14:52
  • @ddriver A white elephant is a rare kind of elephant, but not a distinct species. Those people considered such an elephant sacred and hence would not make it carry loads, or slaughter it. But still had to feed it. So the expenses could not be compensated. – NVZ Mar 12 '16 at 14:55
  • The story just doesn't sound credible, historically it has always been highly lucrative to be in possession of something sacred/holly :) – dtech Mar 12 '16 at 15:03
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    @ddriver It's from a dictionary, not my words. You may Google it. It's from a legend, not scientifically verified history. – NVZ Mar 12 '16 at 15:04
  • Don't take it as personal criticism, it is just difficult for me to go without reasoning. – dtech Mar 12 '16 at 15:05

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