Old aphorism: Put your money where it will do the most good

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 4 06:01:35 UTC 2010

A McClatchy article "Not satisfied with U.S. history, some
conservatives are rewriting it" (Steven Thomma) credits Glenn Beck,
among others, with attacks on Theodore Roosevelt as a "socialist", who
demanded redistribution of wealth "for the good of the country". Beck,
of course, is an idiot. But that's beside the point.

> Fox TV commentator Glenn Beck, however, says that Roosevelt was a socialist whose legacy is destroying America. It started, Beck said, with Roosevelt's admonition to the wealthy of his day to spend their riches for the good of society.
> "We judge no man a fortune in civil life if it's honorably obtained and well spent," Roosevelt said, according to Beck. "It's not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it only to be gained so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."
> Actually, Roosevelt said, "We GRUDGE no man a fortune ... if it's honorably obtained and well USED." But either way, Beck saw the threat.

Although Roosevelt himself is often readily quotable, his lines were
frequently distorted echos of folk wisdom of his day. This brings to
mind another statement of similar sentiment--put your money where it
will do most good. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill comment, but
this is not how Roosevelt's contemporaries saw it--it was considered a
point of quotable wisdom, going back at least to the early 1860s,
perhaps even to the 1840s.

I came across the expression while searching for cognates to "put your
money where your mouth is". It did not seem to be a particularly
important find and I just filed it away along with random noise. Now I
see that I should have trusted my instincts and followed up on it
right away. There are several variations that I came across, but,
since I focused mostly on "put XXX money where XXX", this is what many
of them look like. I don't have time to run an investigation today and
I won't begrudge anyone beating me to the punch. But, it seems, this
may be worthy of inclusion in quotation collections after all--if
nothing else, it will annoy Glenn Beck.


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

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