Primary Sources: The WWII Ration Book

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Our current issue on energy includes a timeline of energy milestones from 1748 to the present. In researching the tale of our energy use, I came across this website, an archival treasure trove of rationing during World War II. Most basic goods were rationed during the war, and the government and media launched a propaganda campaign to rally Americans to this patriotic cause. Rationed items included tires, cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil and kerosene, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, fats, and typewriters.

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Most of us have made no such sacrifices for the war in Iraq, but we may have to for other reasons: Our energy future will be defined by limited supply of once-unlimited commodities, and already some cities here in the Bay Area are preparing to ration water due to low reserves. As alien as the idea seems, we might do well to revisit those patriotic sacrifices after all.

—Casey Miner

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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