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

You submitted your mottoes, more than 300 strong.

You voted on the six finalists.

So you, dear blog readers, are solely responsible for having chosen the United States’ new six-word motto.

The finalists were:

1. Consumption’s the Cure That Ails Us. (Submitted by Quin.)
2. We Will Get It Right, Eventually. (Herb)
3. We Are Too Big to Fail. (Jonathan)
4. The Streets Are Paved With CASH4GOLD.COM. (James)
5. Learn to Live Within Your Means. (Greg)
6. Wow, Can You Believe This Place? (Ms. Fortune)

In an incontrovertible landslide — it’s a motto we can believe in — the winner was:

We Are Too Big to Fail.

I think this would look really good inscribed on our currency and T-bills. Congratulations to Jonathan, the winner, who’ll receive his choice of Freakonomics schwag.

Here are the percentages gleaned by each of the six finalists:

We Are Too Big to Fail. (48 percent)
Consumption’s the Cure That Ails Us. (18 percent)
We Will Get It Right, Eventually. (10 percent)
The Streets Are Paved With CASH4GOLD.COM. (9 percent)
Learn to Live Within Your Means. (8 percent)
Wow, Can You Believe This Place? (7 percent)

Last year’s winning motto was “Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay.” That would seem to have been proven true.

Hopefully this year’s motto will turn out to be just as true.

[NOTE: I discussed the motto contest on The Takeway.]


The last three choices in the list were coinicidentally the last three choices among the audience. Choice architechture?


the bigger they are...


I'd to thank the Academy ....

C. Larity

I'm really disappointed that the slogan didn't win. It has a good bit of satire and cynicism all rolled up into a nice summary of current economic conditions.

Also, it has something else I love: pervasive advertising. It's gotten so good that I hardly even Doritos when it's happening.

Chuck Webster


Bob Fever

Boo. Weak.

Can someone supersize my SUV? A man of this American carriage needs a little extra wiggle room. Put it on my card...

Where's the hope people?


Jonathan - Congratulations!


I was thrilled to find out I had become a finalist - I listened to the segment on the Takeaway this morning and was stunned to find out I had topped their voting list.

Thanks for letting me play!

BTW, although the motto can be read as a bit "preachy" as you discussed this morning, it was actually meant to be a bit more on the inspirational side. Several years ago I was heavily in debt, and struggling to make payments to everyone. By making some significant lifestyle changes my family was able to drag ourselves out of a deep hole.
The message was designed to share the realization that I came to about my own economic circumstances.

The advice can be applied universally to individuals, families, corporations and the Government. It requires tough choices, but applied correctly it DOES solve the main problem facing America today.

I greatly enjoyed your first book, and look forward to reading the second.





If only we WERE too big to fail!


Jonathan, can you clarify something for me? Does your motto mean that the U.S. is too big to be allowed to fail, or that the "bigness" is the reason the U.S. won't fail? Thanks and congrats on winning.

Greg, I voted for your motto. Sure, it's preachy. But it's the exact advice that many people in the U.S. need to follow - and if they had been doing that in the first place, we wouldn't be in as big an economic crisis as we are now.


Wasn't that General Motors motto. No that's right, it was,
" what is good for General Motors is good for America".


RZ -
I think it's simply the attitude (hope) of most Americans, not a statement of fact.


Congrats to all of the finalists!

I have to say, though, that seeing that "Learn to live within your means" only appealed to less than 1 out of every 12 respondents says a lot about how America got INTO the current mess...


Its funny how the Romans also thought they we're too big to fall...which made me realize...they could've been huge in territory but then how could they defend themselves from so many possible fronts? They would've needed alot of time to grow within their Empire... Which is very similar to the present case of the US economy; it expanded too much economically by giving credit to those who didn't have payment capabilities thus making people fall short on mortgage payments causing systematical breakdowns.


New pic eh?


I intended the phrase to mean a lot of things, from a cynical comment on the financial industry to the sheer size of our resources to confront our problems to our extremely large determination.

BTW, if we as well as the Roman Empire ... it lasted for nearly 400 years. We've been a dominant power since WWII, which is a piffling amount of time.


How about:
We are too arrogant to fail.

Who would have thought that Americans would have chosen a self-aggrandizing motto over a self-effacing one, like my favourite: Learn to live within your means

Jake (San Diego)

Am I the only one who assumed the winning motto was at least half snarky? Either way, I liked it.

Tim Slaughter

America seems to think that it truelly is "too big to fail." We think that we are so big, that we can go into other countries and not fail also. I mean, we try so hard to be the "Bigger Person" and the hero that we try and cover the whole would and help out every little person that thinks that they need help. I'm not saying that i disagree with this, but why try to help the hundreds of countries we are in and not be able to take care of things in our own. We can establish a government in Iraq, when our government is spending trillions, taking the country into a bigger dept. We aren't "too big to fail," but more "too big to see the problem."


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Domenique Castillo

No Sacrifice , No Victory