[Ads-l] Quote: Can't somebody bring me a one-handed economist? (attributed to Harry Truman) (UNCLASSIFIED)

Thu Apr 11 21:21:51 UTC 2019


_Pittsburgh [PA] Press_ 12 Jun 1936 p 34 col 1

"One the one hand, they condemn the New Deal soil conservation farm program because it tends 'to promote scarcity and to limit by coercive methods the farmer's control over his own farm,' but on the other hand they favor 'protection and restoration a balance between soil-building and soil-depleting crops as will permanently insure productivity.'

Strictly on a reading of the piece it becomes obvious what the Republicans need is a one-armed platform writer. "

And not really related, but . . . .

_Lincoln [NE] Journal Star_ 17 May 1926 p 13 col 2
"They wanted a one-armed cashier.  It seems the last one they had was a two-fisted fellow, who never let his right hand know what went into his left pocket."

_San Francisco Examiner_ 6 Man 1917, p  9 col 2
"Wanted -- a one-armed man to pass collection plate in the Hoppertown Church."

> ----
> Back in 2017 the late Joel Berson asked me (on this mailing list) about a Harry Truman anecdote that envisioned a "one-handed economist".
> Other researchers have explored this topic: the Truman Library in 1986, Ralph Keyes in 1995, Paul F. Boller in 1996, and Barry Popik in 2010.
> I found some new information that I considered worthy of sharing, so I created a QI entry.
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2019/04/10/one-handed/
> [Begin excerpt]
> Dear Quote Investigator: Economists, lawyers, scientists, and other experts often provide tentative and inconclusive advice to clients.
> These wily advisers avoid definitive statements and employ locutions such as: on the one hand, but on the other hand. Here are four
> comical phrases describing the decisive advisers desired by clients:
> One-handed economist
> One-armed lawyer
> One-armed tax man
> An expert with only one hand
> U.S. President Harry Truman apparently wished for a one-handed economist. Would you please explore this topic?
> Quote Investigator: The earliest published evidence of this family of quips located by QI appeared in the “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette” of
> Pennsylvania in 1951. The joke was told by a tax expert who was relaying the words of an anonymous businessman. Emphasis added to
> excerpts by QI:
> [Begin nested quotation]
> David Boyd Chase, the New York tax consultant, told the Pittsburgh Advertising Club about an executive who was interviewing a number of
> tax experts for a job with his company. He informed Mr. Chase: “We want a one-armed tax man. Every time we ask one of these experts if
> an item is deductible, he says, ‘Oh, sure, but on the other hand—’ We want one who has no other hand.”
> [End nested quotation]
> Harry Truman was the President between 1945 and 1953; hence, this type of quip was circulating while he was in office; however, QI and
> other researchers have not yet found solidly-dated contemporary evidence indicating that Truman employed the joke. On the other hand, a
> 1974 citation and later testimony did attribute the two phrases “one-handed economist” and “one-armed economist” to Truman.
> [End excerpt]
> Feedback welcome
> Garson

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list