Surprise: 1974’s WIN buttons actually did whip inflation

Consumer Reports News: October 15, 2010 09:08 AM

Scorned and ridiculed in their day, WIN buttons may deserve a little belated respect. (For those who weren’t around at the time, WIN, or Whip Inflation Now, buttons were a 1974 Ford Administration gimmick to rally Americans in the fight against the dreaded economic scourge, then in double digits.)

I bought one for $5 on eBay recently to illustrate a piece in our Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter and decided to check how its value had stood up against inflation.

Contemporary newspaper accounts indicate that many WIN buttons were distributed for free. Others were sent to anyone who wrote the White House, pledging to support the cause.

Let’s say you invested 10 cents in a first-class stamp and mailed in a request. Accounting for inflation, that 10 cents would now be the equivalent of about 44 cents—or less than a tenth of what the WIN button is worth today.

So it turns out the little red WIN button not only whipped inflation but whipped it good. Just not in the way the Ford Administration hoped.—Greg Daugherty

Greg writes the “Retirement Guy” column each month in our Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter.

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