Whip inflation now
Whip Inflation Now (WIN) was a 1974 attempt to spur a grassroots movement to combat inflation in the US, by encouraging personal savings and disciplined spending habits in combination with public measures, urged by U.S. President Gerald Ford. The campaign was later described as "one of the biggest government public relations blunders ever".
People who supported the mandatory and voluntary measures were encouraged to wear "WIN" buttons, perhaps in hope of evoking in peacetime the kind of solidarity and voluntarism symbolized by the V-campaign during World War II.
Ford had taken office in August 1974 amidst one of the worst economic crises in US history, marked by high unemployment and inflation rising to 12.3% that year following the 1973 oil crisis. As a Republican, Ford favored the WIN campaign's emphasis on addressing the problem through voluntary actions of citizens, instead of price restrictions imposed centrally by a big government bureaucracy.
The campaign began in earnest with the establishment by the 93rd Congress of the National Commission on Inflation, which Ford closed with an address to the American people, asking them to send him a list of ten inflation-reducing ideas. Ten days later, Ford declared inflation "public enemy number one" before Congress on October 8, 1974, in a speech entitled "Whip Inflation Now", announcing a series of proposals for public and private steps intended to directly affect supply and demand to bring inflation under control. Suggested actions for citizens included carpooling, turning down thermostats, and starting their own vegetable gardens.
"WIN" buttons immediately became objects of ridicule; skeptics wore the buttons upside down, explaining that "NIM" stood for "No Immediate Miracles," "Nonstop Inflation Merry-go-round," or "Need Immediate Money."
Alan Greenspan, as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Ford administration, went along reluctantly with the "Whip Inflation Now" campaign, but would later recall his book The Age of Turbulence that he was thinking, "This is unbelievably stupid" when the concept was first presented to the White House. According to historian Yanek Mieczkowski, the public campaign was never meant to be the centerpiece of the anti-inflation program.
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The WIN form was made available on the day of Ford's Whip Inflation Now speech. It read "Dear President Ford: I enlist as an inflation fighter and Energy Saver for the duration. I will do the very best I can for America." The form was mailed to the president and the sender would receive a WIN button.
- CRUTSINGER, MARTIN (2006-12-28). "Ford's WIN Buttons Remembered". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
- Cormier, Frank (Oct 10, 1974). "WIN buttons in high demand". Associated Press. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "WIN is losing". Washington Post. Dec 20, 1974. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- Yanek Mieczkowski (2005). Gerald Ford and the challenges of the 1970s. Lexington, Ky.: Univ. Press of Kentucky. p. 134. ISBN 0-8131-2349-6.
- "Ford Calls for Action on Many Fronts to 'Whip Inflation Now': Sign Up, Get Free WIN Button" (PDF). Watertown Daily Times. Associated Press. October 9, 1974. p. 7.
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