The Golden Rule: Whoever Has the Gold Makes the Rules

Wizard of Id? Jafar? Brant Parker? Johnny Hart? Dick Boland? Jack Caprio? Jesse Jackson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The Golden Rule is a famous ethical principle that can be stated as follows:

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Several different lampoons and parodies have been constructed based on this moral directive. I am interested in the origin of the following spoof version:

The person who has the gold makes the rules.

Do you know who crafted this mordant remark?

Quote Investigator: In 1964 the comic strip “Wizard of Id” was launched with Johnny Hart as the primary writer and Brant Parker as the primary illustrator. On May 3, 1965 a four-panel strip presenting the satirical golden rule was published in “The Dallas Morning News” and many other newspapers. 1

In the first panel the diminutive tyrannical King character addressed his subjects from the balcony of his castle and emphasized the need for “peace and harmony”. In the second panel the King continued by stating “We must all live by The Golden Rule”. This caused some confusion in the third panel because his listeners were uncertain about the nature of The Golden Rule. In the fourth panel the troubadour character delivered the explanatory punchline. Boldface has been added to excerpts:

Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

This comic strip contained the earliest evidence of the joke located by QI.

This article continues with additional details and selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Golden Rule: Whoever Has the Gold Makes the Rules


  1. 1965 May 3, Dallas Morning News, Comic Strip Name: Wizard of Id, Comic Strip Authors: Parker and Hart (Brant Parker and Johnny Hart), Section 2, Quote Page 9, Dallas, Texas. (GenealogyBank)