Good enough for government work

Good enough even for government work? pic: is.wayne.edu

You might hear the expression “good enough for government work” at the office or from friends doing projects around the house or similar occasions.  It is an interesting expression because it has done a complete 180 degree turn in meaning since World War II when the phrase originated.

Back then something that was good enough for government work was of the highest standard and could pass the most rigorous of inspections.  Since then the meaning has shifted and the expression is now almost exclusively in an ironic sense and means pretty much the exact opposite.  Something that is declared “good enough for government work’ is generally of questionable, if not shoddy standard and would by no means satisfy a discerning customer or client.

An example is the furniture I built over the weekend for my son’s tree house.  The little table is a bit wobbly and the box I made is a it rough around the edges but certainly good enough for a tree house.  So after a close look at it I decided that it was “good enough for government work” and put the tools away.

I guess the regard for government work in this country has gone down the toilet over the last 60 years or so – just as the regard for government itself.

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