Wednesday, Oct. 28, 1942
Actually, there is no lighter side to rationing. As the most basic economics text explains, rationing goods is a very complicated balancing act that invariably prompts some subterfuge, i.e. hoarding, a black market, profiteering.
Why, then, have rationing? America was the Arsenal of Democracy – virtually the only country in the world whose powerful agricultural and manufacturing bases were unscathed by war. The combination of rationing and tax hikes put a lid on civilian purchasing and freed up resources for military use.
While Mary Meade presented lamb roast as an economic meal, meat was needed to feed the troops. This rationing prompted strange reversals in social relations between merchants and customers, as the cartoon above indicates. Coffee , too, was rationed, prompting this whimsical illustration of what the average person’s “Morning Joe” would amount to.
Gasoline and rubber were heavily rationed. And this had a major effect on transportation. As early as June, my father was already considering how gas rationing would affect his plan to travel East. He wrote his sister
“I expect to come the last week of July for a week – that will leave me two weeks in November for a vacation.. I won’t have my car in New York so I don’t need a ration card – unless you need a ration card on the subway.”
But one group saw rationing as an opportunity: Joseph Chandler Robbins, President of the Northern Baptist Conference, called for the government to ration liquor. “In the interest of winning the war, there will be country-wide individual rationing of gasoline, sugar, coffee, meat, and other necessities. There should be at the same time drastic rationing of alcoholic liquors,” he said. Still smarting at the repeal of Prohibition, he added, “The liquor traffic seems to have a strange hold on our country and there is an alarming increase in individual drinking. It seems silly to me that we would ration almost everything else except liquor.”
No letters today.