A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at it” (11/23)
“An onion will make you cry, but they never have invented a vegetable that will make you laugh” (11/23)
“Some debts are fun when you’re acquiring them, but none are fun when you’re retiring them” (11/23)
“Facebook is like jail” (joke) (11/22)
“If people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them” (11/22)
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Entry from December 06, 2010
“A fine is a tax for doing wrong; a tax is a fine for doing okay”

A popular anti-tax saying (showing how taxes penalize success) is: “A fine is a tax you have to pay for doing wrong. A tax is a fine you have to pay for doing okay.” The saying has been cited in print since at least August 1960.

Several citations in 1960 and other years credit Lowell Nussbaum (1901-1987), who wrote “The Things I Hear” column for the Indianapolis (IN) Star from 1945-1971. It’s probable that Nussbaum first authored the saying in his newspaper column.


Wikipedia: Lowell Nussbaum
Lowell Nussbaum (1901–1987) was a professional journalist whose The Things I Hear column ran in The Indianapolis Star newspaper from 1945 to 1971. He was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame during his lifetime.

6 August 1960, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. S10:
These days, a fine is a tax for doing wrong and a tax is a fine for doing all right.

19 September 1960, Springfield (MA) Union, pg. 5, col. 3:
“A fine is a tax you have to pay for doing wrong. A tax is a fine you have to pay for doing okay.”—Industrial Press Service.

Google News Archive
13 September 1960, Beaver County Times (PA), “Quotes,” pg. 6, col. 6:
A fine is a tax you have to pay for doing wrong. A tax is a fine you have to pay for doing okay.—Lowell Nussbaum.

8 December 1960, Ruston (LA) Daily Leader, “Little Liz” comic, pg. 5, col. 6:
A fina is a tax for doing wrong and a tax is a fine for doing all right.

Google Books
April 1962, The Rotarian, pg. 94, col. 2:
A fine is a tax you have to pay for doing wrong. A tax is a fine you have to pay for doing O.K. — Rotary Wheel, Freehold, New Jersey.

Google News Archive
30 June 1962, Reading (PA) Eagle, “Calling ‘em Straight” by Larry McDermott, pg. 4, col. 5:
Today’s epigram: A fine is a tax you have to pay for doing wrong. A tax is a fine you have to pay for doing all right.

4 October 1962, Sioux Center (IA) News, “Opinions of Others,” pg. 2, col. 2:
A fine is a tax you have to pay for doing wrong. A tax is a fine you have to pay for doing okay.—Lowell Nussbaum.

Google Books
Contemporary Tax Practice:
Research, Planning and Strategies

By John O. Everett, Cherrie Hennig and Nancy Nichols
Chicago, IL: CCH
2008
Pg. 18-1:
“A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right.” (Anonymous)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, December 06, 2010 • Permalink