Dataviz as defacement: OCCUPY GEORGE

Occupy George presents data about US wealth disparity as a series of data-visualizations that are intended to be overprinted on US dollar bills. The visualizations are available as templates to turned into rubber stamps, or inkjet-printed overtop of US currency that is first lightly affixed to sheets of paper.

(via Beth Pratt)


      1. Or will it mobilize the panhandlers and embolden the strippers?

        Actually, there was this dancer I used to know named “Embolden”…

    1. First, the currency is still good with writing on it.  Secondly, it’s not intended to annoy.  It’s intended to inform average people who sometimes vote against their own self interests for politicians (most Republicans) who support policies favorable to corporations and the very wealthy.  Some of these people hear these politicians say they believe in “family values” and say they are against abortion and vote for them for these reasons only.  What they don’t realize is that many of these politicians (most Republicans) are pretending to care about abortion and other “values” issues in order to get voters to vote for economic policies that are not favorable to them.

  1. I’m sure that the nation’s strippers will appreciate your attempt at raising their class consciousness.

    Naw, I’m just joshin’ ya. They’ll just be happy that you didn’t try to pass off a dollar coin on them, although they won’t be happy if you don’t let the ink from that rubber stamp dry thoroughly first. 

  2. Yeah, break the law by defacing currency. THAT’s the right way to protest, and won’t get bad publicity for your movement. Nuh uh.

    1. USC 18, 333:
      “Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together,
      or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of
      debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or
      Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be
      reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six
      months, or both.”

      The key to the matter here is “with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be
      reissued” the whole point of this exercise is the hope these items will continue to be used as legal tender to spread the message.  The damage to the bill is minimal.  The note is still recognizable.  Machines will still accept it, and people will most likely do so as well.  I’ll admit it’s a tad more intrusive than the tiny Where’s George stamps, but I don’t see why you couldn’t reissue this bill from a bank.

        1. Just like looking at your neighbor’s mail is, sure.  As far as people caring, like EvilSpirit pointed out, that’s another issue. Laws and statutes like this are mostly enacted to combat people shaving or hollowing coinage, trying to counterfeit bills or notes, or the mass destruction of legal tender.  Since our coins are no longer silver or gold, the former is not as much of an issue anymore also.

          1. OK, the counterfeiting argument makes sense, but still only for coins (and it makes pretty much everyone in America guilty, I guess. I mean, who *hasn’t* put a coin on a railroad track?). But still, the thought of destroying bills being a crime is just so… bizarre. What about Art?

    2. Wait, you actually know someone who gives a shit if currency is defaced??
      Learn something new every day, I guess.

    3. It isn’t a crime to draw/write on money, unless it is an attempt to change it denomination. Though businesses and banks may refuse them.

      Isn’t the top 400 something like .0026% of 150million?

    4. I suppose it will note as bad an idea as pooping on police areas. You know how much Americanvoterslovethatkind of thing. ;-)

    5. It’s a very effective way to spread an important message about the misappropriation and mishandling of the medium of the missive: money. 

  3. I imagine that the upper 1% don’t dirty their hands with common currency. They have people for that.

  4. Question: Is the #occupywallstreet message just getting more diluted/clouded by “artists”  jumping on the bandwagon who’s only interest’s are self promotion? 

    1. Is the #occupywallstreet message just getting more diluted/clouded by “artists”  jumping on the bandwagon who’s only interest’s are self promotion?

      No, it’s not.

    2. I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as creative people using their talents to inspire and inform others. The protest music of the 1960s didn’t  dilute resistance against the Vietnam war.

  5. I love this!  Talk about going ‘viral’!  If you’ve ever watched one of those scenes in a film, where they try to depict some super flu bug being passed from person to person through the exchange of money.  Money circulates quickly and anonymously.

    And winter is coming, but George won’t care.

  6. All this does is make it less likely that one person in the 99% will accept such defaced currency handed to them by another person in the 99%, thereby ensuring they both have no chance in hell of getting to the 1%.

    1. “All this does is make it less likely that one person in the 99% will
      accept such defaced currency handed to them by another person in the

      The bill still says “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”. The application of a stamp doesn’t invalidate its use as currency.

    2.  Are you kidding me? If I got one of these as change for a purchase, you couldn’t pay me enough to say, “No, I refuse this dollar bill, because it has something written on it.” A dollar is a dollar, nobody cares what’s on it…the 99% even less so than the 1%, because the 99% just give it to the creditors…

  7. And getting to the 1% is exactly NOT the point:
    “Occupy George informs the public of America’s daunting economic disparity one bill at a time.”

    I too have a hard time reading anything over 140 characters. Often I decry things by just looking at the cover and issuing a misinformed blanket statement to showcase my ignorance and lack of attention span.

    If you think the 1% doesn’t already know about this little disparity, then this is the dollar for you. Unless, of course, you only accept freshly printed, crisp dollar bills, in which case:

    “Christ, What an…”

    1. Of course that assumes that there’s something inherently wrong about some people being really rich and that the solution to this supposed problem is legalized robbery. Believe it or not there’ are people out here who don’t believe in that kind of nonsense.

  8. Thinking about how 157mil are not represented by this illustration makes my brain explode. If they have no share, that means they are automatically in the bottom 150mil; but if they are in the bottom 150, that means they have about half of the share… which gives them something. But that ejects the original bottom 150, leaving them with no share….. I feel like I’m about to have a seizure.

    1. After looking at the way their website describes the graphic, it makes sense now. They are just equating the two groups, not saying they possess all of the wealth amongst themselves. Some of their other bills are clearer and have a lot more impact, too.

    2. Could it be the ones left our are not “wage earners”. That we have ~150,000,000 employed, and the rest are minors, retired, or otherwise not working? I am thinking that is the reason for leaving out 1/2 the nation.

      ETA – after more thought I think it just shows the upper 400 have as much as the lower 150,000,000. The other 157,000,000 are just not being compared.

      1. No, it’s attempting to show that “The 400 richest people collectively own the same amount of wealth as the 150,000 poorest people own collectively”

        1. Yeah – I slowly figured that out…  I do like their designs. Stuff like this isn’t a bad way to educate people.

        2. No, it’s attempting to show that “The 400 richest people collectively own the same amount of wealth as the 150,000 poorest people own collectively”

          Are the 75 million minors in this country be counted as half of the 150 million poorest people?

  9. Anyone know if it’s true that the copper in pennies is worth more than a penny? 

    If so, is that a good reason to, um, do a lot more than merely deface them, in order to extract the copper and sell it?

    1. IIRC, pennies today are more zinc than copper. You can see this if you put a new penny in one of those penny-stretcher gizmos that squeeze and impress some image on a penny (+50 cents!) at amusement parks – they look like the copper is all broken and a silver background shows through.

      Which brings up this question: these penny-stretching definitely take that currency out of circulation. Isn’t that technically illegal? I love those things and do them whenever I see one! Such a scofflaw!

      1. Because their intent is not to defraud someone.  You are removing it from circulation but intent is the big word here not actually shown.  Thankfully the US Mint dealt with it in the 80’s.

        Pennies are more zinc than copper but the price of zinc has also driven the penny up to be worth more than a cent.  However, melting down pennies is definitely illegal.  But, since a penny is more than a one-time use, we’re not really loosing a lot on their manufacture.

  10. Concern trolls aside, sounds like a great idea to me to help keep this movement within the public’s consciousness.  And, it’ll only spread through grassroots efforts which is a nice bonus.

    I guess what we might see happen is the Koch brothers put out alternative dollar bills in the hundreds of millions with their own message… Oh wait, they already do that through the media and rightwing radio….

  11. Is there a way to get stamps of these?  They recommend downloading the designs and then printing on the bills with a color printer but I think the ink would get expensive. 

    1. Is there a way to get stamps of these?  They recommend downloading the designs and then printing on the bills with a color printer but I think the ink would get expensive.

      Do you really spend that many bills?

      1. Actually I was thinking of breaking a few twenties and then paying for some stuff all in ones to increase circulation if I’m doing this rather than just doing it to a dollar or 2 in my wallet.

  12. This is chartjunk. They’re comparing two subsets of the population to each other, leaving out a doubtless-very-large middle, but representing visually that the two parts add up a a whole. So the immediate reading is that the wealthiest 400 people own half the wealth, which is an absurd exaggeration.

    Sure, it’s a worthwhile message, but couldn’t they have gotten it across with out borderline-lying to people? I don’t think the ends justify the means.

  13. Another good reason to Pay in Cash whenever possible.

    Not only can you keep your money from the corporate banks schemes, you can use it to spread the 99%’s message of Democracy.

    If not NOW, then WHEN?
    We may never have a better chance to stand up to the corrupt mutlinational corporations that have taken over our very way of life.

  14. The statistics given are too vague to determine if they are accurate or not.  Some better defined ones can be found at .  The data there places 35.6% of private wealth in the hands of the top 1% of households.    Of course, this completely ignores the progressive legislation of the 20th century which places a large part of the wealth of the USA in the government hands supposedly for the benefit of the average person.

  15. Isn’t it strange that the votes could be found to bail out AIG, Goldman-Sachs and the like but none for the 99% who are America.

      1. Perhaps I should clarify -> I don’t care about “Occupy Wall Street”, not poverty.  I think it is absolutely despicable how a large mass of people are so completely unconcerned about their neighbor that they would place their comfort above others.  But in an economic climate where the richest individuals in american society are also by far the most prolific philanthropists, why should I care about the groanings of an economic class that contributes so little to the world stage.  Average american wage earns are consumers, so from outside of america there is very little concern for the plight of the “already wealthy, but not quite as wealthy as they’d like” individuals.  Increase the average Americans contribution to the world economy (and not solely as consumers) and citizens on the world stage may be more sympathetic of this plight.  But as it stands it is the “haves” complaining to the “have mores” and the have not’s probably don’t care just like me.  -> you may be the 99% but the 98% wants you to take your tent home.

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