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 March 23, 2009
“If it moves, tax it”

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan said: “Back then (before 1981—ed.), government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” The remark has been widely quoted to describe government at all levels.

During World War II, the armed forces had a similarly constructed saying: “If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, pick it up. If it’s too big to pick up, paint it.”

In 1952, there was this saying: “If it moves, control it; if you cannot control it, tax it, if you cannot tax it, subsidize it.”

In 1967, there was this saying: “If it moves, tax it; if you can’t tax it, control it; if you can’t control it, give it a million dollars.”

In the 1970s, New Orleans Mayor “Moon” Landrieu said this: “We tax everything that moves, and everything that stands still, and if it moves, we tax it again.”

It appears that Ronald Reagan’s 1986 quotation was many years in the making. A soccer adage (popularized in 1974) is “If it moves, kick it; if it doesn’t move, kick it until it does.”


Google Books
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pg. 630:
Ronald W. Reagan
U.S. president, 1911-2004
“Back then [before 1981], government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Remarks to state chairs of National White House Conference on Small Business, 15 Aug. 1986

Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
By Wallace, De Witt, 1889-, DeWitt Wallace, Wallace, Lila Bell, Lila Bell Acheson Wallace
Published by The Reader’s Digest Association, 1945
Item notes: v. 46
Pg. 40:
1. If it moves, salute it. 2. If it doesn’t move, pick it up. 3. If it’s too big to pick up, paint it! — Contributed by George F. Willison.

Time magazine
Americana
Monday, Mar. 10, 1947
(...)
In Washington, at a V.F.W. meeting, U.S. Attorney General Tom Clark tried paraphrasing the old Army rule: “If it moves—salute it; if it doesn’t move—pick it up; if you can’t pick it up—paint it.” His new version for the returned veteran: “If it cries—change it; if it’s on wheels—buy it; if it is hollow—rent it.”

Google Books
Paper
By American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Institution of Electrical Engineers
Published by The Society, 1948
Item notes: nos. 1-2
“Well”, said the elder Congressman, “When in doubt, if it moves; tax it, if it moves quickly; regulate it, and if it doesn’t move at all; subsidize it.”

Google Books
Concrete
edited by Harvey Whipple
Published by Concrete-Cement Age Publishing Co., 1952
Item notes: v. 60
Pg. 12:
Warning against the type of candidate whose philosophy is: “If it moves, control it; if you can’t control it, tax it; if you can’t tax it, subsidize it.”

20 July 1952, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Chamber Gives Nine Point Test for Candidates” by Joseph Hearst, part 1, pg. 11:
[This type of candidate’s program may be reduced to simple terms: If it moves, control it; if you cannot control it, tax it, if you cannot tax it, subsidize it.]

30 April 1959, Benton Harbor (MI) News-Palladium:
States Find Answer To Shortages: If It Moves, Tax It!

Google Books
The Railway Clerk
By Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employes
Published 1964
Item notes: v. 63
Pg. 20:
New directive rumored from Washington: “If it moves, control it. If you can’t control it, tax it. If you can’t tax it, give it a billion dollars.”

20 February 1967, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Report from Washington” by Walter Trohan, pg. 4:
After all, the federal government operates pretty much In line with the quip: If it moves, tax it; if you can’t tax it, control it; if you can’t control it, give it a million dollars. It isn’t surprising that the money isn’t producing desired results.

11 June 1967, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Washington Scrapbook” by Walter Trohan, pg. 29:
REP. GEORGE HANSEN [R., Idaho], who reports the new directive in Washington seems to be: “If it moves, control it. If you can’t control it, tax it. If you can’t tax it, give it a billion dollars,” received the following poem from a constituent:...

Google News Archive
7 April 1971, Deseret (UT) News, pg. A10, col. 1:
The Mayor of New Orleans summed up succinctly the plight of America’s cities when he said: “We’ve taxed everything that moves and everything that stands still. If it moves, we tax it again.”
(New Orleans Mayor Maurice Landrieu—ed.)

Google Books
The Party’s Over:
The Failure of Politics in America

By David S. Broder
New York, NY: Harper & Row
1972
Pg. 125:
“We tax everything that moves, and everything that stands still, and if it moves, we tax it again.”
(New Orleans Mayor Maurice “Moon” Landrieu—ed.)

8 May 1972, Chicago (IL) Tribune, section 1, pg. 18:
One gets the distinct impression that the motto of the Cook County Board these days is something along the lines of “if it moves, tax it.”

17 June 1979, Washington (DC) Post, “Mayors—WIthout Misery” by David S. Broder, pg. B7:
Moon Landrieu of New Orleans had a soliloquy about local tax burdens (”...and if it moves, we tax it again...") that became as famous as Edwin Booth’s reading of “To be or not to be...”

15 September 1979, Washington (DC) Post, “Nickel-and-Diming the City” by Sam Smith, pg. A15:
Lately, I have discovered a closet philosophy that is exercising a major force on the direction of government, but which attracts little attention. Reduced to its basic equations, it comes out something like this: If it moves, regulate it. If it doesn’t, tax it. And, if you can get away with it, do both.

29 June 1986, Galveston (TX) News:
If it moves, tax it. If it still moves, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.

7 March 2006, New York (NY) Sun, “Solving the Housing Crisis” by Randy Daniels, pg. 11, col. 2:
To understand the high-cost, low-income enigma that characterizes much of New York, a good starting point is Ronald Reagan’s memorable line, which William Weld recently quoted but misattributed. “If it moves,” Reagan would say, “they want to tax it. If it keeps moving, they want to regulate it. And when it finally stops moving, they want to subsidize it.” That’s a very good description of big government economic policy. A description, however, is not an explanation.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (47) Comments • Monday, March 23, 2009 • Permalink


Have a nice one!!! In 1952, there was this saying: “If it moves, control it; if you cannot control it, tax it, if you cannot tax it, subsidize it.” I like the sentence very much. Thanks wink

Posted by Electricians In Perth  on  11/03  at  12:02 PM

If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, pick it up. If it’s too big to pick up, paint it.” great quote, thank you for the post.

Posted by Exercises For Abs  on  01/03  at  03:28 AM

Excellent piece of information. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Residential property management  on  01/27  at  04:42 AM

That is really a awesome post. Mr. Electricians I also like this sentence. It’s too good.

Posted by Fried Poul  on  02/15  at  12:41 PM

Alas many governments don’t realise that the more you tax their citizens the less happy they become and as a consequence they become less productive.

Posted by John Camden  on  04/08  at  07:03 AM

This is really interesting to think about how much our government has changed throughout the years.

Posted by Orlando Attorneys  on  04/13  at  08:36 AM

I am not the biggest fan of the if it moves tax it.

Posted by Environmental Consulting Agency  on  04/18  at  12:09 PM

That is really a awesome post. Mr. Electricians I also like this sentence. It’s too good.

Posted by Cavity Wall Insulation  on  04/20  at  06:32 AM

New Orleans Mayor “Moon” Landrieu said this: “We tax everything that moves, and everything that stands still, and if it moves, we tax it again.” I think it is, he crossed the line! This is not a democratic approach!

Posted by writing services  on  04/21  at  05:02 AM

"if it moves, tax it”, - Glad this is still not in effect!

Posted by Accident Attorneys  on  04/25  at  01:06 PM

Tax .. tax .. tax ... Some people are suffering because of tax. Powerful and rich people are the ones that don’t pay tax.

Posted by Torrent  on  05/02  at  08:16 PM

If It moves tax it, may not be publically in effect, but we all know that this type of thinking is still running rampant today.. tax them till they die! seems to be the popular sentiment

Posted by cheilitis  on  05/10  at  12:09 AM

Taxes do not die even if you do

Posted by Kindle Skins and Covers  on  06/08  at  12:23 AM

governments don’t realise that the more you tax their citizens the less happy they become and as a consequence they become less productiv

Posted by 1 3 dimethylamylamine  on  06/08  at  06:27 PM

The situation is not gi to get any better, with the cureeny financial climate raising revenues through taxation will only increase. Here in the UK we pay over 50% of our earnings intotaxes in one shape or another.

Posted by best generator for home use  on  06/12  at  03:21 AM

The less number of taxes - the better is financial government planning. That is my opinion.

Posted by essay  on  06/20  at  06:01 AM

We have way too many taxes in both US and Canada. Here in Ontario, Canada we were recently got HST, and I’m not really happy about it, but no matter for whom you vote it seems taxes are always going up.

Thanks,

John

Posted by Canadian  on  06/21  at  01:01 PM

Dems answer for everything: spend more, tax more.
Repubs answer for everything: cheap labor and crony capitalism.
We need a true leader in American Today!

Posted by Web Design Memphis  on  06/26  at  10:49 PM

Tax legislation is inevitably coming to America, but so are spending cut. We need to make sure we balance our fiscal responsibility with protecting the rights of our citizens.

Posted by car accident lawyer tampa  on  08/25  at  12:30 AM

This is really interesting to think about how much our government has changed throughout the years…

Posted by Chiropractor San Francisco  on  09/08  at  08:15 PM

I read your article post and it really helps in giving information about taxes and the views of several Government leaders about it. In my own opinion, taxes have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on how it is being managed by the authorities. Some people may think they are burdened about the taxes, however, it keeps the economy functioning and it helps a lot on the funding of several government projects.

Posted by Red Power Ranger  on  09/26  at  11:57 AM

nobody can hide from taxes right,and it’s our duty as citizen.so just pay the tax,and you will live happily ever after wink

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Posted by Tampa garage door repair  on  10/18  at  05:16 AM

Thanks for sharing !

Posted by Software Akuntansi  on  10/28  at  02:13 AM

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