And the New Six-Word Motto for the U.S. Is …

Last week, we asked for your vote to decide the best of the top five entries to our “6-word motto for the U.S.” contest. As promised, we tallied the votes received in the first 48 hours after posting. There was a clear winner:

Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay (194 votes)

Here are the runners-up:

Caution! Experiment in Progress Since 1776 (134)

The Most Gentle Empire So Far (64) votes

You Should See the Other Guy (38)

Just Like Canada, With Better Bacon (18)

I applaud your choice of winner, and I especially applaud “edholston,” the blog reader who wrote the motto. “Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay” is, while perhaps not outrightly uplifting, a wonderfully concise acknowledgment of the paradox that a capitalist democracy inevitably is: a place that is often well worth complaining about, and which allows you to complain as loudly as you wish.

It seems a small reward to get just a piece of Freakonomics schwag for such a mighty task as writing a new motto for the United States, but that is all we have to offer. That, and our thanks — to Ed, and to all of you who participated.

Now, who among you can see about actually getting this motto adopted?


Write your local legislator.

Jon Cooper

How about:

Freedom: wherever you can stick it

Jim in Missoula

I think that your observation on the early 'left' suggestions and late 'right' may have significantly contributed to the voting. As an 'independent' contributor who kicked in somewhere during the transition from L to R, I kept checking back to see if anything happened and then finally forgot all about it. The late R 'surge' probably was still paying attention when the voting commenced. I know I wasn't.

Josh Millard

I see a trend developing, here. Official six-word motto for the US when it's bored and has had too much to drink:

Seriously, Canada. You Want Some? C'mon!

Charles D

I demand a recount!


@Dubner: "Now, who among you can see about actually getting this motto adopted?"

I'd say the first thing it has to do is spread. What better way to spread it than to blog about it and pass it on? You democratized the process already, but in one sense you Freaks held the primary election. The general election is held every second from here until eternity, on the internet, by the water cooler, and in coffee shops virtual and otherwise.

Joe Keeley

I've spent months in Canada and always thought, "America is better, 'cept for the bacon!" After going to Europe I asked, why is everyone else (other countries) getting the good bacon and we get leftovers?

Do they serve "American Bacon" (all-fat) in Canada?

Blame the Canadians!!!


"Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay" The implicit delusion in this is that for most people there is a real choice. People stay for the same reason most people stay in the same religion they are born into; the call of imprinted group identity overpowers other considerations. That is the cost of change in terms of how it affects ones personal identity and ones family and other social relations is currently to great. In addition are the incremental benefits of moving to Europe or Canada worth the cost and hassle? Things arnt bad enough here (yet?) to warrant learning French or freezing your butt off in The Great White North.

Caspar Henderson

How about "Bankrupting ourselves, and destroying the world"? See Stiglitz:

Late tupartee

welcome to the downward slope


what's wrong with "E Pluribus Unum" (the current motto)?

Besides most of the other places Americans might like to emigrate to (rather than stay here) have much stricter immigration policies than we do and make it impossible. So the winning motto isn't necessarily accurate, as some of us may be staying not because we prefer it but because we can't get anyone else to take us.


Now just replace the "In God We Trust" on all of our money with this new motto, and we'll be good to go.


The 'bacon' that they put on Egg McMuffins is "Canadian Bacon". In Canada, this would be called "ham". Back bacon (the best of all bacons) is formally called peameal bacon.

And, after living in Canada for 25 years and thinking our beer was the best, nothing compares to a pale ale from one of the many microbreweries out here in Colorado.

Hannah Bodana

ok im a senior and i am american so will some one please fill me in on this whole canadian bacon thing...i sure havent learned about this or even heard about this...and oh yea the only reason im on this sight is for my economics not some loser who has no life and chills on the site of "freakonomics" offense yall


It's really more of a bumper sticker than a motto.



If you come to America, you learn ENGLISH, and you like it that way!


> "what's wrong with "E Pluribus Unum" (the current motto)"

"E pluribus Unum" was, unofficially, our motto from 1782 to 1956. During the McCarthy era, the U.S. government passed a law making "In God We Trust" the official motto of the United States. (The McCarthy era is mentioned because, during the 1950s, there was a significant trend toward de-secularizing the government in the interest of distinguishing us from the Soviet Union).

just a little FYI


The only problem with this motto is that its not exactly easy to leave hear. I'd love to live in a less warmongering country with 6 weeks vacation and/or free health care. If I could just pick up and move to Canada or the EU I might. But visas don't grow on trees you know.


Thanks Tom@35. I did not know that. I actually think "E Pluribus Unum" is a motto to be proud of, one can at least wish it were true.


Aaron: Maybe you wouldn't feel that way if you knew how much you had to pay in taxes to enjoy free healthcare and 6 weeks vacation.