"Crime wouldn’t pay if the government ran it” is a humorous line about the basic incompetence of government. The quotation—once popular with graffiti writers—has been cited in print since at least 1968 and is of unknown authorship.
30 September 1968, Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), pg. 12, col. 1:
CURE FOR CRIME
Somebody else said it: “Crime wouldn’t pay if the government ran it.”—Anniston (Ala.) Star
20 April 1975, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Graffiti” by Robert Barnett, Sunday Magazine, pg. 58, col. 2:
Crime wouldn’t pay if the government ran it.
14 March 1976, Big Spring (TX) Herald, “Around the rim” by Walt Finley, pg. 4A, col. 6:
Fast fingers Sandra Green, Herald word maker and proud new mama of a girl, has a friend who suggests “Crime wouldn’t pay if the government ran it.”
Problems, programs, and perspectives
By E. Eugene Miller
Lexington, MA: Lexington Books
An anonymous wit once observed that “Crime wouldn’t pay, if the government ran it.”
How to write fillers and short features that sell
By Louise Boggess
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
I found this quip in “Dear Suzie” in Midnight/Globe.
Crime wouldn’t pay if the government ran it. — MICHAEL D. HERTZ
Google News Archive
11 December 1984, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), “The writing’s on the wall” by Maxine Martz, pg. 2C, col. 5:
Crime wouldnt pay if the government ran it.
26 July 1987, Fresno (CA) Bee:
And a bumper sticker on another vehicle: “Crime wouldn’t pay if the government ran it.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, September 27, 2010 • Permalink