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 July 25, 2010
“They came to do good and stayed to do well” (Washington bureaucrats/politicians)

An old saying of Washington, D.C., is that a politician or a bureaucrat “came to do good and stayed to do well.” In other words, the individual came to do good (for others), but stayed to do well (for himself or herself) with a well-paid lobbying job or other perk of the position. The saying has been cited in print since at least 1967.

An earlier saying is that Hawaiian missionaries “came to do good (for native Hawaiians) and stayed to do well (for the missionaries).” Turkish-Saudi Arabian arms-dealer and businessman Adnan M. Khashoggi said (in a quote often wrongly attributed on the internet to essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson) by at least 1990: “Doing well as a result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about, isn’t it?”


Google Books
Orientations
By Sir Ronald Storrs
London: Nicholson & Watson
1943
Pg. 412:
They were cynically said to have come to Jerusalem to do good, and stayed to do well.

Google News Archive
18 September 1959, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “Sleepy Lahaina: Capital of Kings” by Horace Sutton, Sunda Magazine, pg. 20, col. 2:
It’s an old saw in Hawaii that the missionaries who came to do good, stayed to do well.

Google Books
Washington:
The New York times guide to the Nation’s Capital

By Alvin Shuster
Washington, DC: R.B. Luce
1967
Pg. 14:
... of Government girls who came looking for romance and fell in love with Capitol Hill, of intellectuals who came to do good and stayed to do well.

Google Books
The Presidents’ men;
White House assistants of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson

By Patrick Anderson
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1968
Pg. 276:
Clark Clifford and Tom Corcoran are only two prominent examples of men who, in the classic phrase, came to Washington to do good and stayed to do well.

Google News Archive
6 August 1980, Rock Hill (SC) Herald, “Voice of Business” by Richard L. Lesher (President, Chamber of Commerce of the United States), pg. 4, col. 5:
Sowell, a professor of economics at the University of California at Los Angeles, has written of these government programs: “Obviously, there are a lot of middlemen who get theirs: Administrators, researchers, consultants, staffers, etc., These are the army of people who ‘take care’ of the poor in a variety of ways. Such caretakers are the modern equivalent of the missionaries who came to do good and stayed to do well. It is no accident that the highest income counties in the United States are the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Poverty is the cause of much of that affluence.”

9 May 1986, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Deaver Stayed In Washington To Do Real Well” by Dale McFeatters, pg. 90:
THERE’S a Washington saying about the world-savers who come into the capital every four years: They came to do good and stayed to do well.

Google Books
Calling it a day:
Daily meditations for workaholics

By Robert D Larranaga
San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row
1990
Pg. ?:
“Doing well as a result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about, isn’t it?” — Adnan M. Khashoggi

Google Books
The Character of Nations:
How politics makes and breaks prosperity, family, and civility

By Angelo Codevilla
New York, NY: BasicBooks
1997
Pg. 214:
The saying about New Deal politicians in Washington—they came to do good and they stayed to do well—is applicable generally.

Google Books
Nonzero:
The Logic of Human Destiny

By Robert Wright
New York, NY: Vintage Books
2000
Pg. ?:
There is a famous putdown applied to public servants who begin their careers with high ideals and wind up corrupted: they “came to do good and stayed to do well.”

Google Books
The Nine:
Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

By Jeffrey Toobin
New York, NY: Anchor Books
2008
Pg. 147:
The career of Jay Sekulow was following a classic Washington trajectory: he came to the capital to do good and stayed to do well.

GraniteGrok
He Went To Do Good And Stayed To Do Well
Posted by Steve on July 20, 2010 6:59 AM
The saying is that “he went to Washington to do good and stayed to do well” and the first name that popped into my mind was Charlie Bass.  C-Bass epitomizes this ruling class cultural maxim.  He promised you term limits then changed his mind. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, July 25, 2010 • Permalink