Quota Rationing — World War II US Propaganda Posters

Any war costs a lot of resources, and the rational deployment and utilization of resources during war is very important.
World War II US Propaganda Posters Quota Rationing 3

Any war costs a lot of resources, and the rational deployment and utilization of resources during war is very important. The American rationing system, the prototype of which can be traced back to the World War I period, was not equivalent to a series of initiatives by the U.S. government at that time, but only the voluntary participation of the public in saving and levying excess profits tax as a way to force prices down.

But in contrast to the World War I era, the Roosevelt administration had been feeling enormous pressure from material supplies since the British first requested aid from the United States in May 1940. Before the United States officially entered the war, the main focus was on helping the Allies. The first person in charge of the Office of Price Administration, Leon Henderson, pointed out that once some civilian goods were converted to military goods, the U.S. domestic supply of oil, steel, primary aluminum and electricity would be in serious shortage at any time; and although food reserves could meet domestic supply in the current situation, if the U.S. maintained and continued to increase the amount of material aid to the European countries, the U.S. would not be able to provide the military. Although the current situation can meet the domestic supply of food reserves, but if the United States to maintain and continue to increase the amount of material assistance to European countries, it is also very likely that the phenomenon of demand exceeds supply. But this opinion did not attract the special attention of President Roosevelt at that time. It was not until Pearl Harbor that he finally decided to allow the Office of Price Administration to introduce a fixed supply.

Leon Henderson
Defense Needs Rubber, Save Your Tires (Information Intelligence Service, 1941)

By January 30, 1942, the Bureau became a free and independent agency under the newly enacted Emergency Price Control Act. To prevent the possible social and negative effects of sudden supply disruptions, the Bureau of Price Control set a limit on the starting date for each item. On the same day that Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, the Bureau of Price Control began work on the first item, tires to be restricted. This decision was also not a random arrangement, but the result of careful consideration. As the main civilian derivative of rubber, controlling the supply of tires could significantly reduce the supply of rubber, and at the same time tires, unlike food and necessities, were unlikely to have a large negative impact among the population immediately.

But what really made the tire rationing effort effective was the gasoline restriction initiative that began in early May 1942. Under the rules of the then Price Administration, most vehicles are supplied with rationed gasoline by displacement and usage.

On the other hand, agencies such as the Petroleum Coordination Service, the Defense Transportation Service, and the Association of American Railroads also began to increase various propaganda efforts to encourage the public to consider the larger picture of the war and reduce unnecessary travel in order to reduce the needless waste of war resources such as fuel, coal, and tires; in response to these restrictions, the American public began to find alternative ways out, and the automobile club was one of the extremely successful examples.

Breaking the Bottleneck, Transportation Needed for Victory (Ohio State Highway Department, 1942)
Squeege in One More Help Win the War (Lee-Morhouse, 1943)
They Do It… So Can We, Carry More To Win The War (Traffic Safety Claims Department, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 1942)
Hitler Rides In The Empty Seat, Double Up! (Defense Transportation Service, 1942)
Load’er Up! Carry More To Win The War! (Traffic Safety Claims Department, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 1942)
When You Share Poorly Researched Infographics, You Ride With Hitler. Check Your Facts and Cite Your Sources Today! (Wimmer-Proussel, 1943)
Are You Playing Square? (Dean Cowell, 1943)
Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth acts as a promotional ambassador to call on the public to drive safely.
Have You Really Tried to Save Gas by Getting into a Car Club? (Harold von Schmidt, 1944)
I’ll Carry Mine Too! Trucks and Tires Must Last Till Victory (Sara Valentino, 1943)
Is Your Trip Necessary? Needless Travel Interferes with The War Effort (Defense Transportation Service, 1943)
Millions of Troops Are on The Move… Is Your Trip Necessary?(Montgomery-Mulbern, 1943)
War Traffic Must Come First (Friedrich Chance, 1943)
Don’t Waste Transportation (Association of American Railroads, 1944)
Me ravel? … not this summer, vacation at home (Albert Dawn, 1945)
Could This Be You? Don’t Travel- Unless Your Trip Helps Win The War (Defense Transportation Service, 1945)
Win With Tin (Civilian Production Authority, 1942)

Since then, the Office of Price Administration has been imposing restrictions on metals and household goods to reduce travel and eliminate waste. In order to well regulate the use of household goods, the Office of Price Administration officially issued a restriction decree and distributed a bound book of exchange coupons to each resident, and ordinary residents could only exchange limited household goods with the exchange coupons. Later, exchange coupons was changed to a point form, with only points limited and no restrictions on the products to be exchanged.   

Under this exchange mechanism, a centrally operated black market trade soon emerged within the United States: to ensure the stability of prices and markets,  the Office of Price Administration then launched an oath campaign for the population, mainly housewives, asking people not to exceed the official maximum price set when buying items for trade to avoid hyperinflation. But because the goods were really hard to buy, many Americans had bought things on the black market during the war, which undoubtedly contributed to the rampant black market and provided a breeding ground for its development. In fact, the phenomenon of black market trading was not properly addressed until the end of the war.

According to the rules of the Price Administration, all goods are marked with the required price in addition to the required number of exchange points.
Stamp Out Black Markets.. With Your Ration Stamps (Herbert Royce, 1943)

The root cause of the persistent black market trade was that the agricultural supply in the United States was completely inadequate to meet the needs of the population. The main reason for this shortage was the “Japanese residents evicted” program that the U.S. began to implement at the time, as these Japanese residents were forcibly relocated to temporary settlements, a large amount of land fell into disuse, and although the U.S. government relocate a large number of agricultural workers to the area to regain agricultural production at a later date, it was clear that they were not as efficient as the original owners of this land.


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