Trickle Down

In 1998, during graduate school, I wrote a letter to the 100 biggest corporations in the world. I told them that he wanted to donate a $1 check to each of them, since according to trickle-down economic theory, I would actually be better off if they had my money than if I had my money. Most of the companies wrote back, explaining why they couldn’t accept my money in a variety of letters that were by turns charming, humorous, sarcastic, oblivious, and ingratiating, often depending on whether they were written by the CEO, a secretary, a publicist, or the legal department. For instance, 3M recommended that I buy some Scotch tape instead. Only a handful cashed the check.

This is one of the oldest projects on this site, but it’s also one of my favorites, so I jumped at the chance to show it at a money-themed exhibition in 2011. I revamped the documentation and presentation and generally spiffed it up. Unfortunately, it was lost during its return shipping, so these few images are all that remain. When it was exhibited, several of the letters were framed, and the rest were included in binders below, along with the returned checks and other materials that the corporations sent to me.

Below you can read a copy of my original letter, with a post-it note from Aetna, along with letters from Chase and Cigna, and a picture of the installation.


You can download a PDF of all the results here.

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