I don’t disagree with the warm and fuzzy tone of most of the commentary on Gerald Ford’s political career, but I can’t let the occasion pass with noting that Ford was responsible for the Whip Inflation Now campaign, one of the goofiest initiatives in our history.
It’s hard to remember how pre-Friedman our politics were in the mid-70s (in addition to being generally wacky, of course). But even in the context of the time, the idea that citizens could band together to “whip inflation,” inspired by “WIN” buttons and–God help us–a “Whip Inflation Now” song, was bizarre. The only good thing you could say about the WIN “program,” I suppose, is that it was not as dumb as imposing price controls, as Nixon did.
UPDATE: Here is a Whip Inflation Now button:
In the Washington Post, Jeffrey Birnbaum offers a pretty positive assessment of Ford’s post-WIN economic policies. They were, in truth, all over the lot, especially given Ford’s relatively short time in office. But conditions were improving late in Ford’s term, which largely explains why he closed rapidly on Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.
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