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.

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Entry from November 14, 2016
“Government is like a baby, with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other”

A jocular definition of a baby has been cited in print since at least 1937:

“A baby is an alimentary canal with a loud mouth at one end and without responsibility at the other.”

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), who would be a candidate for California governor, was cited in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on March 28, 1965:

“Government is like a baby—it’s got an alimentary canal at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

The New York (NY) Times appears to have the full quote, as cited on November 14, 1965:

“The Government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a healthy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”


Wikiquote: Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan (6 February 1911 – 5 June 2004) was an American politician and actor, who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he served as the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, following a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader. He was the husband of Jane Wyman (1940–1948) and Nancy Davis (married in 1952).
(...)
Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
. Joke during his 1965 campaign for Governor of California, as quoted by Leo E. Litwak in The New York Times Magazine (14 November 1965), p. 174.
Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
. As quoted in The Reagan Wit (1981) by Bill Adler, p. 30

1 July 1937, Algona (IA) Upper Des Moines, pg. 3, col. 2:
Without Responsibility
Exchanged: Opened the Readers’ Digest this morning fresh fro mthe mail to find this one: “A baby is an alimentary canal with a loud mouth at one end and without responsibility at the other.”

28 February 1941, Sikeston (MO) Standard, “The P.C. Editor Says,” pg. 1, col. 1:
An old maid’s definition of a baby is: “An alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other.”

25 September 1943, Philadelphia (PA) Tribune, “Wit,” pg. 8, col. 6:
Baby: An alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-- Elizabeth I. Anderson

23 January 1961, The Times of India (New Delhi, India), “Children And Chocolates,” pg. 6, col. 2:
A baby has been well defined as an alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other.

28 March 1965, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Conservatives Rallied: Goldwater Can Win Presidency in 1968, CRA Convention Told” by Carl Greenberg, pg. B5, col. 3:
The potential candidate (Ronald Reagan—ed.) hit at the pending bill for a 1 percent temporary gas tax increase to pay for northern flood damage, saying:

“I’ve never seen a temporary tax. Government is like a baby—it’s got an alimentary canal at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

14 November 1965, New York (NY) Times, “The Ronald Reagan Story; Or, Tom Sawyer Enters Politics: The Ronald Reagan Story” by Leo E. Litwak, Magazine, pg. 174:
Reagan’s standard speech is a homespun spiel about farmers persecuted for violating their crop quota allotments and business enterprises harried by Government red tape. It is spiced with wisecracks:
“The Government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a healthy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”

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The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. - Ronald Reagan
1:21 PM - 7 Nov 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, November 14, 2016 • Permalink