Rationing: it's a word - and idea - that people often loathe and fear. Health care expert Henry Aaron has compared mentioning the possibility of rationing to "shouting an obscenity in church." Yet societies in fact ration food, water, medical care, and fuel all the time, with those who can pay the most getting the most. As Nobel Prizewinning economist Amartya Sen has said, the results can be "thoroughly unequal and nasty."
In Any Way You Slice It, Stan Cox shows that rationing is not just a quaint practice restricted to World War II memoirs and 1970s gas station lines. Instead, he persuasively argues that rationing is a vital concept for our fragile present, an era of dwindling resources and environmental crises.
Any Way You Slice It takes us on a fascinating search for alternative ways of apportioning life's necessities, from the goal of "fair shares for all" during wartime in the 1940s to present-day water rationing in a Mumbai slum, from the bread shops of Cairo to the struggle for fairness in American medicine and carbon rationing on Norfolk Island in the Pacific. Cox's question: can we limit consumption while assuring everyone a fair share?
The author of Losing Our Cool, the much debated and widely acclaimed examination of air-conditioning's many impacts, here turns his attention to the politically explosive topic of how we share our planet's resources.
Rationing in World War II...
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- 27 Aug 39: Germany: Rationing of food, footwear, textiles and coal announced
- 24 Sep 39: Germany: Rationing of bread and flour introduced in on a small scale
- 08 Jan 40: UK: Rationing of butter, sugar and bacon begins in Britain
- 12 Feb 40: UK: Paper rationing introduced, with supplies cut by 40 percent
- 15 May 40: UK: Butter rationing reduced from 8 oz to 4 oz per person per week
- 27 May 40: UK: Sugar rationing reduced from 12 oz to 8 oz per person per month
- 08 Jul 40: UK: Tea placed on the ration list at two ounces per person per week
- 31 Aug 40: France: Weekly rations: 4 oz sugar, 6 oz spaghetti, 1½ oz rice, 3 oz margarine
- 01 Oct 40: Australia: Petrol rationing is introduced
- 17 Dec 40: UK: Rations increased temporarily in Britain for Christmas week
- 28 Feb 41: Vichy France: Bread ration reduced from 350 grams to 280 grams
- 01 Mar 41: Italy: All civilian food rations are halved to allow exports to Germany
- 17 Mar 41: UK: Jam and marmalade rationed to 8 ounces per person per month
- 25 Mar 41: UK: Jams and marmalade rationing reduced, meat rations cut
- 01 Jun 41: UK: Clothes rationing begins, allowing about one complete outfit per year
- 08 Jul 41: USSR: Rationing of basic foods begins in Moscow, Leningrad, major cities
- 24 Sep 41: France: Cigarettes in occupied Paris reduced to 4 a day for men, 0 for women
- 17 Mar 42: UK: Britain begins rationing of fuels and electricity
- 15 May 42: Gasoline rationing goes into effect in the eastern US
- 01 Dec 42: USA: Coffee rationed despite record production in Latin America
- 07 Feb 43: USA: To conserve leather and rubber, shoe rationing begins
- 29 Mar 43: USA: Meat rationing begins, set at 2½ lbs per week per adult
- 01 Apr 43: USA: Fats, canned goods and cheese added to rationed list
- 28 Jul 43: USA: Coffee rationing, begun on 01 Dec 42, is lifted
- 08 Jan 44: USA: Tokens introduced, allowing stores to give back change for ration stamps
- 22 Apr 44: USA: Typewriters, rationed since Nov 42, are removed from rationing
- 03 May 44: USA: Meat rationing ends in the US, except for certain selected cuts
- 22 May 45: UK: Bacon reduced to 3 oz / week, cooking fat to 1 oz, meat to 106 lbs / year
- 16 Aug 45: Gasoline and fuel oil rationing comes to an end
- 23 Nov 45: USA: Butter rationing ends, leaving sugar as the only rationed item
- 01 Jun 47: USA: Sugar rationing finally ends
- 15 Mar 49: UK: Clothes rationing, imposed on 01 Jun 41, is finally lifted
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