"If you want it bad, you (will) get it bad” means that if you want something “bad” (quickly) without the time to do it right, you will get it “bad” (poorly done). The saying has been cited in print since at least 1953 and has been used throughout the military, with frequent use in the Pentagon. Paul Dickson’s The New Official Rules (1990) dubbed the saying “Savage’s Law of Expediency” by Richard C. Savage, but the saying’s author is unknown.
Music Library Association
1951 (This Google Books date may be incorrect—ed.)
A certain government official displays on his desk this slogan: Deadlines — if you want it bad, you get it bad.
Army Information Digest
U.S. Dept. of the Army
Jan 1, 1953
Give your subordinate the time he needs to do an adequate job. “If you want it bad, you get it bad,” is a frequently heard caution.
2 April 1961, San Diego (CA) Union, “Defense Via Proverbial Crystal Ball Is Dangerous Unless Glass Is Clear” by Ruthven E, Libby, Vice Admiral, USN, Ret. (Copley News Service), pg. C3, col. 7:
I HAVE one comment anent crash decisions, however—a retort made to me by one of my Indians some time back when I pressed him for a hurry-up answer to a sticky problem: “If you want it bad, you get it bad.”
14 July 1963, San Diego (CA) Union, “Test Ban: A Soviet ‘Confidence’ Game” by Ruthven E. Libby, Vice Admiral, USN, Ret. (Copley News Service), pg. C3, col. 6:
I wonder, however, if he is familiar with the remark made by a staff assistant to his boss when the latter pressed him for a crash answer to an intricate problem: “If you want it bad you get it bad.”
Electronic Data Processing, an introduction
By E. Wainright Martin
Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin
There is an old saying concerning quick answers to complex questions: If you want it bad, you’ll get it bad!
The Officer’s Guide
By Russel B. Reynolds
Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books
A Pentagon expression which applies to this situation is, “lf you want it bad, you get it bad.” Avoid becoming an officer who demands regularly that tasks be completed “yesterday.”
8 May 1972, New York (NY) Times, “Navy Spending, or How to ‘Get It Bad’” by William Proxmire, pg. 36:
“If you want it bad, you get it bad.”
The New Official Rules
By Paul Dickson
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley
Savage’s Law of Expediency. You want it bad, you’ll get it bad.
-- Richard C. Savage
Learning to Lead, Part II
By MajGen Perry M. Smith, USAF (Ret.)
The following article was originally published in the Marine Corps Gazette in December 2001.
18. Don’t Set Unreasonable Deadlines
There is an expression in the Pentagon, “If you want it bad, you will get it bad.” Try to give your folks enough time to put together a solution that you and they can be proud of.
18 August 2004, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Officials urge caution in intelligence reform” by George Edmonson:
“But to quote a saying I learned during my Army years: ‘If you want it bad, you will get it bad.’”
Google News Archive
4 November 2005, The Day (New London, CT), “House passes bill aimed at retricting use of eminent domain,” pg. A6, col. 1:
The outgoing CEO of the NLDC put it another way.
“We had a saying in the Navy: If you want it bad, you get it bad,” said David M. Goebel, “which means if you want it instantaneously, it will not be a good solution.”
World Politics Review
Global Insights: Afghan Strategic Pact Depends on Future U.S. Commitments
By Richard Weitz, on 15 May 2012,
As they say in Washington, if you want it bad, you will get it bad.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, May 16, 2012 • Permalink