March 1944 Radio-Craft[Table of Contents]
People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Radio-Craft was published from 1929 through 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from Radio-Craft.
"Use it up... Wear it out... Make it do... Or do without" - what a great slogan! It was coined by the War Advertising Council during World War II to promote the dual need to conserve scarce resources and to help keep prices down by not generating excess demand. Most of us have seen videos or read articles about neighborhood materials collection efforts to round up old tires, scrap metal, glass, tools, electronics equipment, cloth and clothing, and many other items that could be recycled for used directly in the war effort. There was also an undertone of not abetting attempts by opportunists to profiteer off the war. Government policy did what it could to control the economy by instituting severely progressive income taxes and price controls (that way only the ultimate insiders could get rich). After 11.3% and 7.6% inflation rates during the first two years of the war, efforts such as this campaign saw it quickly drop and hold at about 2.5% to the end of the war. Immediately thereafter, however, inflation skyrocketed to 18.1% and then to 10.2% over two years, then settled down and oscillated around ± a couple percent until it again rose significantly in the 1970s. In today's atmosphere of plenty of everything materially, the amount of waste is so excessive that living by the standards of the 1940s would be considered a condition of poverty and deprivation.
Sure you've got the money. So have lots of us. And yesterday it was all ours, to spend as we darn well pleased. But not today. Today it isn't ours alone.
"What do you mean, it isn't mine?"
It isn't yours to spend as you like. None of us can spend as we like today. Not if we want prices to stay down. There just aren't as many things to buy as there are dollars to spend. If we all start scrambling to buy everything in sight, prices can kite to hell-'n'-gone.
You think I can really keep prices down?"
If you don't, who will? Uncle Sam can't do it alone. Every time you refuse to buy something you don't need, every time you refuse to pay more than the ceiling price, every time you shun a black market, you're helping to keep prices down.
"But I thought the government put a ceiling on prices."
You're right, a price ceiling for your protection. And it's up to you to pay no more than the ceiling price. If you do, you're party to a black market deal. And black markets not only boost prices - they cause shortages.
"Doesn't rationing take care of shortages?"
Your ration coupons will - if you use them wisely. Don't spend them unless you have to. Your ration book merely sets a limit on your purchases. Every coupon you don't use today means that much more for you - and everybody else - to share tomorrow.
"Then what do you want me to do with my money?"
Save it! Put it in the bank! Put it in life insurance! Payoff old debts and don't make new ones. Buy and hold War Bonds. Then your money can't force prices up. But it can speed the winning of the war. It can build a prosperous nation for you, your children, and our soldiers, who deserve a stable America to come home to. Keep your dollars out of circulation and they'll keep prices down. The government is helping - with taxes.
"Now wait! How do taxes help keep prices down?"
We've got to pay for this war sooner or later. It's easier and cheaper to pay as we go. And it's better to pay more taxes now - while we've got the extra money to do it. Every dollar put in to taxes means a dollar less to boost prices. So ...
Use it Up ... Wear it out ... Make it do ... Or do without
Help US Keep Prices Down
A United States war message prepared by the War Advertising Council, approved by the Office of War Information, and contributed by the Magazine Publishers of America
Posted August 14, 2014