Quip in the news: Heads I win, tails you lose (antedating 1739)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 17 23:04:37 UTC 2011

 George Thompson wrote:
> The form that provoked me to ask him about the phrase was  "It's heads the
> bankers win, tails the taxpayers lose."
> No doubt there have been other such riffs on it in previous crises.
> (I supposed I had seen this in the NYTimes, but it doesn't turn up in a
> search of their website.)

Perhaps you saw Paul Krugman's formulation in the excerpt below. The
pronoun "you" implicitly refers to a banker or some other financial

Financial Russian Roulette by Paul Krugman
Published: September 14, 2008

But the consequences of those rescues are making officials nervous.
For one thing, they’re taking big risks with taxpayer money. For
example, today much of the Fed’s portfolio is tied up in loans backed
by dubious collateral. Also, officials are worried that their rescue
efforts will encourage even more risky behavior in the future. After
all, it’s starting to look as if the rule is heads you win, tails the
taxpayers lose.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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