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Fighting inflation with buttons

Fighting inflation with buttons

A worker at Western Badge & Trophy in Los Angeles makes WIN (Whip Inflation Now) buttons.

In 1974, the U.S. inflation rate had reached 12%, and President Ford declared that reducing it was the nation’s top priority.

“I say to you in all sincerity that inflation, our Public Enemy No. 1, will – unless whipped – destroy our country, our homes, our liberties, our property and, finally, our national pride – as surely as any well-armed enemy,” Ford said in a nationally televised address on Oct. 8, 1974.

To emphasize his point, Ford wore a red button on his lapel that said “WIN” – for “Whip Inflation Now.” Soon, demand for WIN buttons was soaring and Los Angeles’ Western Badge & Trophy Co. was among the companies that started cranking them out.

The Los Angeles Times, in a story by reporter Ronald L. Soble, said on Oct. 18, 1974, that “the button business is popping.”

Bill Crookston, the 38-year-old president of Western Badge, … reported that calls began coming the day after Mr. Ford wore his WIN button.

At his plant near downtown Los Angeles, Crookston said he has orders for 150,000 1 ½-inch WIN buttons and 50,000 of the 2 ¼-inch diameter variety. Crookston, who sells directly to retail outlets and the public , also has designed his own red, white and blue WIN button.

Ralphs Grocery Co. of Los Angeles has ordered 12,000 WIN  buttons for its personnel, Crookston said, but in the oval shape of the store’s logogram. (The Ford Administration hasn’t designated any particular design or size as “official.”)

Interest in WIN buttons began to fade the next month, and some politicians pointedly avoided them. A group of lawmakers who opposed Ford’s anti-inflation program said in November 1974 that the WIN buttons were “extremely dangerous” because they “paper over” serious economic questions.

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