Summary: Since oil is becoming more and more of a concern in our current wartime environment, wouldn’t it make sense to bring back a WWII-era mileage rationing system?
As President George W. Bush said on August 3, 2005 “Make no mistake about it, we are at war.” Are we as Americans really doing all we can to support our country and the war effort? Sure, we have our “Support Our Troops” ribbons (the magnetic kind, so as not to damage the finish on the car), but there must be something else we could do, especially considering the growing oil crisis.
Back in 1942, during a different wartime era, all Americans, on the front lines and back at home, were duty-bound to do what they could to defeat the enemy. At that time, our government instituted a system of mileage rationing that helped conserve valuable resources for the vital war effort. The government issued a number of different types of mileage ration cards, stickers and stamps that were distributed based on need, which was determined (at least in part) from the actual mileage traveled between home and work. For example, the black “A” sticker was issued to cars that were nonessential to the war effort. Cars displaying an A sticker on the windshield got four gallons of gasoline a week and not more. A green “B” sticker was for driving deemed essential to the war effort, such as those driven by industrial war workers. B card holders could purchase eight gallons a week. Red “C” stickers were for physicians, ministers, mail carriers and railroad workers. There were “T” stickers for truckers, special “X” stickers (exempt) and Supplemental Mileage Ration stamps, so the system had a lot of flexibility. It was easy to get extra stamps for families with sick children who needed treatment, for example.
It would be simple to institute this necessary rationing system today. For example, since my car is not essential to the war effort, I would only get an “A” sticker. While this would be a sacrifice for me and my Toyota Corolla, it wouldn’t be too tough to accommodate. I live on the other side of town from my office and drive to work every day, but I must admit that I could still get to my job and do the 180-mile round trip to the beach every other week on an A card ration. If I started car-pooling with a neighbor or coworker, together we could save even more of our combined rationed gasoline. I know it would be a huge sacrifice for some folks, even though it still isn’t comparable with the “ultimate sacrifice” other Americans are making.
On the whole, however, I think the mileage rationing program would be a very fair and balanced system, with the flexibility to make exceptions and meet the needs of all Americans. Afterall, the plan doesn’t restrict you from owning a Hummer, Explorer, Land Cruiser or whatever you want. Exercise your right to drive whatever you want - but you only get four gallons a week. As they used to say back in 1942, “There’s a war on, you know.”
Here’s my car with its “A” card:
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