Let's assume I am an expert in an academic field. I have my opinions, however if I were invited and paid to give a lecture I would be willing to support opposing views.

Question: What would be a possibly ironic (or at least without despise) way to describe such an attitude?

Disambiguation: Something like "if you paid me I would support that" or "the theory for which one pays wins." I am looking for a phrase or proverb describing the attitude, that one might jokingly use to refer to himself.

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    The response to that “Will you do it” question is: “What’s it worth to ya?” or “I’m always for sale... for the right price.”
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:21
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    My support and arguments are for sale. What's your offer? (Sad to see this from a real academic.)
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:54
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    "Charming/soothing/enthusiastic/authoritative/trustworthy voice for hire—no questions asked."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 4:02
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    I can't add my own answer, but I'm surprised to see nobody has suggested "selling out," which can work well in a self-deprecating context. "For the right price, I'd gladly sell out!"
    – brian_o
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 2:33
  • Sophist - since your example involves academia.
    – maxwell
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 3:27

21 Answers 21


You can consider the proverb He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The person who provides the money for something has the right to determine how it’s spent. [OD]


My opinion on that is negotiable.

  • 16
    +1, this is a great way to express the sort of thing the OP is looking for. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 0:31
  • 7
    I liked this answer better before the edit. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:26
  • Haha, how ironic :D
    – nicael
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 10:08

I'm an ethical man. I follow the golden rule. The one with the gold makes the rules.

You wanted something humorous and this certainly fits a classic pattern. You want something joking, and this is definitely going to be taken in jest. It's also something that gives you a way to back out if the first line gives you an indication that your audience might not be primed for such a joke.


The quote of the comedian Groucho Marx

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

could give the desired result in the appropiate context.

  • Pretty sure there's never a bad time to drop a Groucho Marx line :-)
    – corsiKa
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 21:18

The phrase open to the highest bidder is applicable and shows up about 700,000 times when entered into google.

  • I also like the 'hired gun' answer, which is another very common phrase. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:30
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    This doesn't really sound joking to me—more like something I might say disapprovingly to describe the asker. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 9:58
  • I would have thought it was "for sale to the highest bidder" not "open to" him.
    – ErikE
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 21:59

The usual in academia is "mercenary". If you happen to be an ethicist, for example, you might jokingly call yourself a "mercenary ethicist".

Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.

[mercenary. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved November 3 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mercenary.]

In the case of an ethicist, the joke is clear; for other disciplines, that you are jokingly referring to yourself may be communicated by tone and context.

  • I've never heard mercenary used in academia. I've heard 'hired gun' used to refer to contractors in the private sector, though. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:15
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    @publicwireless, of course your experience is comprehensive, yet a search on google--admittedly a very crude instrument--yields only 7 hits for "hired gun academic" and a mere 346 for "mercenary academic" (exact phrases).
    – JEL
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:22
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    In regard to this usage of "mercenary", I find that it's most common to describe one's motives as mercenary, not the individual themself. e.g. "That was a mercenary decision on his part."
    – recognizer
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 15:25

You could say:

I'd gladly be a hired gun for the other side.

Or, more lightheartedly:

I'm a rhetorical gun-for-hire.

Combining this idea with the currently most popular answer gets you:

My opinion is negotiable because I'm a rhetorical gun-for-hire.


As a rhetorical gun-for-hire, my opinion is negotiable.

(Stress on the word "is" gives the last one some comedic timing, I think.)


A person who does that, especially a plaintiff's expert witness in medical malpractice trials, is often called a whore.

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    And the verb is self-prostitution. Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 23:40
  • Would you use it jokingly to refer to yourself? Like "you know, I'm a whore so I will do it?"
    – macraf
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 0:05
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    I don't see why not. I think it's sort of tongue-in-cheek to begin with.
    – user139454
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 0:21
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    +1 My first thought exactly. Although I'd like to see an adjective to give context. Maybe a "speech-giving whore"?
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 10:00
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    This would be taken extremely offensively in many situations. I would take care using this term.
    – Vality
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 10:34

I have my opinions, but I also really like money.


I used to believe in that, until someone gave me 25,000 reasons to believe otherwise.


Australians have a term "cash for comment" meaning you give me cash and I'll comment in your favour (without disclosing the payment).

This Phrase came about after some well known commentators/reporters were caught out making positive comment in support of particular businesses in apparent unbiased editorials. However they failed to disclose their financial arrangements with those businesses. Such deals are of course considered unethical in terms of journalistic integrity- But I probably didn't need to say that.


I think corrupt may fit the context described:

  • lacking in integrity; open to or involving bribery or other dishonest practices: a corrupt official; corrupt practices in an election.


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    Would you use it jokingly to refer to yourself? Like "you know, I'm corrupt so I will do it?"
    – macraf
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 0:04
  • 3
    @macraf Maybe not in this form, but something like "I'm not incorruptible" may work.
    – Chop
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 12:54

Whose bread one eats, whose words one speaks...

This is actually a literal translation of a Dutch proverb, but it is used in English too.

I've also seen it appear in English as "Whose bread you eat, his song you sing", but that version feels awkward to me (for the record: I'm Dutch).

  • The version with singing is known also in slovak language (Koho chleba jes, toho piesen spievaj). Something related from hungarian: A dog barks, money talks.
    – Thinkeye
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 22:08
  • Pretty sure the second version is the more grammatical one, although it's a bit archaic all the same. Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 2:31

"If you got the money honey, I got the time"?

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    Welcome to EL&U.This post would be improved by explaining why you suggest this term, for example, by providing a dictionary definition or examples in the wild. I encourage you take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 13:39

There’s a property appraiser in my area who is known as “[First name], true to the task at hand, [Last name]” in recognition of his/her ability to produce appraisals that always somehow seem to fit the needs of the entity commissioning/paying for the appraisal.

(e.g., tax assessments commissioned by cities/counties [and appraisals commissioned by sellers] always run high; condemnation appraisals commissioned by cities/counties/public utilities/highway-transportation officials [and appraisals commissioned by purchasers] always run low; and depending on the economy and funds available/required, appraisals commissioned by lenders and/or borrowers can go either way)

Although this appraiser and his/her appraisals are clearly inconsistent and subject to change, they "always remain true and faithful to the task at hand" (i.e., “the current task that [he/she] is doing[;] that [task that he/she is] currently working on.” from Urban Dictionary).

Because of the possible positive connotation of being “true/faithful to the task at hand” (at least when the current task is a noble one), I think that this phrase/notion could be used successfully in your example (where the current task is the pleasing of a paying customer, and therefore perhaps not so noble) to subtly and jokingly express the notion that you’re after, perhaps as follows:

“[Don’t worry,] I’m [well-known as/proud to be known as] someone whose opinions and testimony always remain true and faithful to the task at hand.


Consider customer is always right (or client is king) which, used ironically, can mean something along the lines of, if someone is paying for a job, they get to say how it's done.


I think the clearest way to express the intent is "my opinion is for sale", which is a fairly common English idiom. It's generally used in a negative sense when discussing other's opinions, but could also be used self-deprecatingly. It does risk coming off negatively, though.

Another possible phrase would be that "every man has his price", which states that everything is negotiable. It's a little harder to reference the speech-giving and keep the phrasing recognizable, but could be used in context. It also lends itself well to witty follow-ups such as "And mine is pretty affordable", "What's your budget?", etc. This would be seen more jokingly than the first option, and might be spoken by someone with no actual intent of following through.


I agree with the opposition but money talks.

  • "money can buy cooperation; having money makes one influential." That's a different sense than what the OP asks for. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 22:46
  • I have always heard it used in the sense of "Money Talks" ill do whatever it is as long as I get payed.
    – marsh
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 23:05

You could quote Don Henley:

I can get you any result you like. What's it worth to ya?

And then hope they get the reference.


If you argue the opposing side, either to extend the conversation or to test for issues with your own view, you can be described as playing Devil's Advocate. You don't necessarily have to be paid to do it-- programmers, architects, designers, etc., do it all the time to determine potential weaknesses.



Hold your arms straight out in front of you, hands hanging down loosely; tilt your head slightly to one side; stare vacantly into the distance; intone in your best 'Igor' voice, "Yeth, marthter..."; then lurch away on stiff-kneed legs...

(RIP Terry Pratchett)

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