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.

Recent entries:
“I don’t have enough coffee or middle fingers for today” (3/26)
“I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake” (3/26)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (3/26)
“If you are not coffee, chocolate, or bacon, I’m going to need you to go away” (3/26)
“Life happens, coffee helps” (3/26)
More new entries...

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Entry from January 29, 2011
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste”

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” said Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House Chief of Staff, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on November 19, 2008. The November 7, 2008 New York (NY) Times had quoted Emanuel from another interview, “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid. In 1974 and 1978 we never dealt with it, and our dependence on foreign oil never changed.”

The idea that a crisis can also be an opportunity is an old one and probably cannot be dated. However, statements similar to Emanuel’s had been frequent since at least 2004, when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman credited Stanford economist Paul Romer with “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’’ In a New York Times column in 2009, Yale Book of Quotations editor Fred Shapiro said that an article, “Don’t Waste a Crisis — Your Patient’s or Your Own,” was found in a 1976 medical journal.


Wikiquote: Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel (b. 29 November, 1959) is an American politician currently serving as White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. He served previously as Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois.

Sourced
You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. ... This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not before.
. Interview to the Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2008

YouTube
Rahm Emanuel on the Opportunities of Crisis
WSJDigitalNetwork | November 19, 2008
For more political videos, head to http://www.wsj.com/video. Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff for president-elect Barack Obama, outlines the opportunities for bipartisan reform that he says the financial crisis presents at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 19)

New York (NY) Times
Kicking Over the Chessboard
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: April 18, 2004
(...)
This is a real crisis for all parties. And as Paul Romer, the Stanford economist, remarked to me the other day about a different issue: ‘’A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’’

New York (NY) Times
Power of Positive Pataki Demonstrated in Relentlessly Upbeat Annual Address
By MICHAEL COOPER
Published: January 6, 2005
(...)
“There is a wonderful need for optimism and affirmative thought; having said that, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” said Mr. Spitzer, explaining that he thinks a more clear-eyed appraisal of the troubles with the state’s economy, its government programs and its governance could help galvanize change.

Google News Archive
17 August 2005, Manila Times, “Don’t let crisis go to waste” by Dan Mariano, pg. A5, col. 1:
PARAPHRASING a television commercial for a college fund for African Americans, Thomas L. Friedman told a recent forum, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Friedman, a New York Times columnist, was alluding to a foreign-policy issue, but he might as well have been talking about skyrocketing crude prices in the world market.
(...)
Well worn is the cliche that the Chinese ideograph for “crisis” combines the characters for “threat” and “opportunity.” However, there are indications that the energy crisis is giving way to political opportunism.

Google Books
Designed to Win:
Strategies for building a thriving global business

By Hiroaki Yoshihara and Mary Pat McCarthy
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
2006
Pg. 193: 
“Don’t waste a crisis,” was the message from Cristóbal Conde, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sungard, USA, another participant at the 2005 Davos conference. Instead, he advised, spend half your time addressing the problem and use the other half to develop on the opportunities that it creates. 

BNET
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste
Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Feb 9, 2006 by Arthur G. Affleck

Google Books
Happier:
Learn the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfillment

By Tal Ben-Shahar
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
2007
Pg. 96:
Make the most of the difficulty. As my colleague Anne Harbison once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

22 March 2007, St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press, “A Hot Opportunity for Cool Progress,” editorial, pg. B10:
Smart leaders never let a good crisis go to waste. Two have converged in St. Paul’s Fire Department—a simmering city budget problem and an internal collapse of confidence. If the city and firefighters take advantage of this moment to get square with the future, good things can happen before anything really bad does.

5 November 2008, Washington (DC) Post, “Hard Choices And Challenges Follow Triumph” by Dan Batz, pg. A1:
Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, argued that “no crisis should go to waste,” meaning that the depth of the country’s problems…

New York (NY) Times
November 7, 2008
Obama, Assembling Team, Turns to the Economy
By JEFF ZELENY and JACKIE CALMES
(...)
Mr. Obama is coordinating with Congressional Democrats behind the scenes on the stimulus plans, which would include more jobless benefits, food stamps, aid to financially strapped states and cities, and spending for infrastructure projects that keep people at work. His chief liaison has been Mr. Emanuel.

“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid,” Mr. Emanuel said in an interview. “In 1974 and 1978 we never dealt with it, and our dependence on foreign oil never changed.”

National Review Online
Never Let a Good Crisis Go To Waste
By Jonah Goldberg
November 7, 2008 4:25 P.M. 
“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”
– Rahm Emanuel

Exploring the Purpose of Things
Friday, November 07, 2008
Don’t Waste A Crisis
... says Rahm Emanuel, just appointed chief-of-staff by President-elect Barack Obama.

“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid. In 1974 and 1978 we never dealt with it, and our dependence on foreign oil never changed.”
[BBC News, 7 November 2008]
(...)
Finally, Avrim Lazar attributes a version of the phrase Canadian economist Don Roberts

“A crisis is too precious an event to waste.”
[Daily Gleaner, 5 November 2008]

A cliché is a terrible thing to waste.

New York (NY) Times
The Chatter
Published: November 9, 2008
‘’You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.’’
Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, appointed by President-elect Barack Obama as his White House chief of staff, talking about the economic crisis.

New York (NY) Times
Obama Weighs Quick Undoing of Bush Policy
By JEFF ZELENY
Published: November 9, 2008
(...)
“Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” Mr. Emanuel said in an interview on Sunday. “They are opportunities to do big things.”

Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck – Emanuel: ‘You never want a serious crisis to go to waste’
Friday, Nov 21, 2008 at 1:33 PM EST
GLENN: I want to frame I think everything that we do for the next few weeks and the next few months under the Rahm Emanuel comment that happened on Wednesday. He was speaking to the Wall Street Journal and he made this comment about the economy. He said quote: You never want a serious crisis to go to waste, and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you didn’t think you could do before.

This should be burned into everybody’s head. This should be the one thing that everybody remembers because this is not just the Obama administration. This is the banking community, this is giant global corporations, this is the United Nations, this is anyone who has a different point of view on the world. This is anyone, any of our enemies, from Al-Qaeda to Russia to China. You never want a serious crisis to go to waste and what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you didn’t think you could do before.

NYTimes.com: Freakonomics
August 13, 2009, 12:27 pm
Quotes Uncovered: Who Said No Crisis Should Go to Waste?
By FRED SHAPIRO
(...)
Westy asked:
How about the very recent “Don’t waste a crisis”? Did that phrase/quote have usage prior to Rahm Emanuel?”

Charles Doyle of the University of Georgia, my coauthor on the forthcoming Yale Book of Modern Proverbs, has found that this expression is now commonly applied to economic or diplomatic crises that can be exploited to advance political agendas, but he traced it back at least as far as 1976, when M. F. Weiner wrote an article in the journal Medical Economics entitled “Don’t Waste a Crisis — Your Patient’s or Your Own.” Weiner meant by this that a medical crisis can be used to improve aspects of personality, mental health, or lifestyle.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, January 29, 2011 • Permalink