Spend self-righteously with OccuBucks

3 12 2011

I received this rather special $1 bill in change last week:

Of course, the effect was diminished because someone printed it off-center. Tsk, tsk.

On top of the familiar banknote image is a diagram that purports to show the disparity of wealth in the United States; the bill is divided in half with red ink, with “Richest 400 Americans” on one side and “Bottom 150,000,000 Americans” on the other. The dollar had, evidently, been Occupied.

My first impulse was to roll my eyes at the politicization of our currency and laugh the whole effort off. I have it on good authority that the average One Percent never carries bills smaller than $100, so in all likelihood, most Occupy-stamped bills wind up in the cash register at the local corporate coffeehouse.

Really, though, turning the supposed “root of all evil” into a tool of propaganda is a clever idea. As much as I disagree with the aims of the Occupy movement, they have been very effective at propagating their message (I’m talking about it right now, after all). Moreover, subversion can be fun, and this is perfectly legal – the overprints don’t meet the criteria for currency defacement. There are several designs available for ready reproduction at OccupyGeorge.com. Some are factual, others are just snarky (“Future property of the 1%”).

This is a campaign that the greedy capitalists of the world can learn from. Imagine similar currency stamps highlighting how much top earners pay in income tax – or showing how much of every dollar is consumed by bloated government. $10 bills might note that 80 percent of the world’s population exists on less than $10 per day, putting many of the Occupiers uncomfortably near the ranks of the global One Percent.

The left does not have a monopoly on creativity, and there has never been a more crucial time for artistic supporters of the free market to make their voices heard. To win the war of ideas, we’re going to have to get innovative – and as the OccuBucks in circulation demonstrate, even the smallest of venues can communicate volumes.

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