A Note from the War Economy

Recently I looked through some letters that my great-grandmother, Harriett Brown, wrote to my grandfather, Theo Eversol. Included in these documents is a “Basic Mileage Ration” card from the “United States of America Office of Price Administration.” The card is dated November 17, 1942, and it lists Brown and her car, a 1936 Plymouth.

Here are the instructions:

How to Use Your Mileage Ration Book

This book has 4 pages of 8 coupons each. Each coupon is numbered and is good only as follows: No. 3 coupons from Nov. 22, 1942, through Jan. 21, 1943 [etc.]…

Each coupon is good for ONE “A” UNIT of gasoline. The number of gallons which each coupon gives you the right to buy will depend upon the demands of the war program; therefore, the value of the unit may be changed. Any change in value will be publicly announced by the OPA.

Do not loosen or tear coupons from the book. Detached coupons must not be honored by the dealer. When buying gasoline, hand the book to the dealer to remove coupons. … The dealer is permitted to deliver gasoline only into the tank of the vehicle described on the front cover of this book, unless bulk transfer has been authorized by the War Price and Rationing Board.


1. Persons who do not observe the rationing rules and regulations of the Office of Price Administration may be punished by as much as 10 YEARS IMPRISONMENT or $10,000 FINE, OR BOTH, and are subject to such penalties as may be prescribed by law.

2. Gasoline obtained by use of this book must not be taken out of the fuel tank of the vehicle described on the front cover.

Of course this was a pretty stupid way to go about things. The program ensured that gasoline available for civilians would not go to its most valued uses. But FDR was all about centralized control of the economy, which he practiced before and during the war, regardless of the harm it caused.

Here’s what my great-grandmother wrote about gas and prices in a letter dated December 15, 1942:

Lots of the filling stations have closed since gas rationing went in. You know those packages of raisins we used to get. Well they are 55 cents now. butter 52, milk 11, eggs 42, so you see things are going up, quite a difference since you left [for the war].

One of the things the war accomplished was to dramatically inflate the money supply, which inflated the economy out of the wage and price controls of Hoover and FDR. Today, as the federal government looks to spend trillions on bailouts and make-work projects, I wonder whether the pending inflation is an intended result, or if it is merely a biproduct of the subsidies for politically-correct production and the (disgusting) special-interest handouts.