Friday, April 20, 2007


A lot has been said lately about the rationing that we, as a nation, did during World War II and how much the average citizen sacrificed in regards to comfort and commodity. It is said that as a nation at war, presently, we have done no such thing. This is true. Life goes on here as many die in Iraq. Some of them our neighbors, family and friends. One has to wonder if the average citizen would go without some of their conveniences if it meant they could get the GIs in Iraq better armor.

I had to take a day off of work today, as a personal day, to watch over my dog, Max, recover from surgery. I was very lucky in that today happens to be the first beautiful day of the spring. I locked the gate on my deck, brought my laptop and my book out on the deck and spent most of the day watching him heal out in the sun while doing some of the things I enjoy most in life. I am a very lucky man. I have everything any reasonable person could ever want and I don't have a lot.

In the summer of 1945, President Roosevelt instituted rationing. Every person was issued a rationing booklet worth 48 points that was supposed to last 6 months. Such commodities like butter, meat, canned veggies, sugar and clothing were assigned a certain amount of points. One had to spend wisely and make serious choices. Much like the illegal drug trade today, black markets sprung up in every major city. If you had the money, you could still buy to your content, but you payed a lot for it.

Also, rubber and gasoline were rationed. No shortage of gasoline existed at the time, but it was believed that rationing gasoline would help to deter the usage of rubber tires and tires were badly needed by the army. The OPA (Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply) provided a list of essential occupations and those people with those occupations were allowed to buy gas. Cards were issued that fell within three categories: A, B and X. The A card holders received 5 gallons a week, while B's were given a bit more because they were either war workers or doctors or provided other essentials. If you had an X card you were given unlimited fill-ups. The shit hit the fan when the public discovered that all members of Congress were issued X cards. Pleasure driving came to a halt for most citizens ... while those who were most in the position to set an example, didn't have to sacrifice any such thing.

So things haven't changed that much. My father's generation still had their corruption and the market was still king. But one things certainly has changed, the leadership. Once rationing was in full throttle, the president hired outside consultants to criticize his administration so that they would learn from their own mistakes. Imagine that ... a president that sought out criticism rather than what we have now, someone who surrounds himself with cronies and makes himself impervious to who sways outside the party line.

No comments: