Thursday, June 11, 2009

No WIN Situation

The buttons and bumper stickers started sprouting up sometime in late-1974, early-1975.

They were designed to be a nationwide rallying cry--a modern-day version of jingoism.

Three letters, that's all.

WIN.

It was a directive from the White House, disguised with a bunch of rah-rah.

President Jerry Ford, in October 1974, made a speech about the economy and then he got some ideas.

WIN.

We thought, back in '74, that the auto industry was in trouble. This was 35 years before their house of cards came down completely and the 11th Chapter was invoked by two of the (formerly) Big Three.

No, 1974 was child's play compared to what's happening now.

But we didn't know that in '74. Detroit shed some jobs. Gas prices started to spike. Not only gasoline, but the prices of coffee, bread, meat--you name it--started to inflate.

That word, inflation.

So Jerry Ford makes a speech and gets the idea: what if we encouraged thriftiness and money-consciousness among the masses?

This inflation, Jerry said--it must be whipped.

WIN!

Whip Inflation Now.



The White House started it, and before long, the buttons and bumper stickers were done up.

Ford declared inflation as "public enemy number one" ten days after he made his economic speech to Congress on October 8, 1974. He asked the American people to come up with ten ideas for how to combat it, and send them to him.

So WIN was born--an appeal for putting money into savings and exhibiting smart spending habits, among other things.

It wasn't received all that well.

Folks immediately began to ridicule the WIN buttons. Some even wore them upside down--so they'd spell NIM--and declaring that NIM stood for "Need Immediate Money" or "No Immediate Miracles."

How little did some think of the WIN campaign?

In his book The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan, as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, recalled thinking "This is unbelievably stupid" when Whip Inflation Now was first presented in the White House.

We didn't really "whip" inflation back in '74-'75. Not before it whipped us, anyway.

WIN ranked right up there with Nancy Reagan's inglorious campaign against drugs--her advice to "Just Say No."

Well, they tried, anyway. And that's more than you can say for some of the goofballs roaming the Capitol nowadays.

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