Friday, 31 May 2013

5th February, 1953 - this is what freedom looks like

The end of sweet rationing. There were essential reasons for introducing rationing of all sorts of things during the war - among them the fact that the country was skint, valuable resources had to be directed towards the war effort, and the German military was deliberately targetting food shipments to Britain. But there was really no need to keep anything rationed seven and a half years after the war ended. Only socialists would have imagined that this was either necessary or desirable - socialists simply love controlling the minutiae of people's daily lives.

So Winston Churchill's Tory government abolished sweet rationing, and the kids went mad with joy. The three top sellers were toffee apples, nougat and liquorice.  With the reintroduction of a free market in confectionery - and despite the lack of a rolling, centrally-controlled five-year plan for sweet production - Britain has never subsequently run short of gobstoppers, pear-drops or chocolate bars. Wonderful thing, the free market.

In the course of my extensive research for this post, I came across a fascinating snippet on Wikipedia (so I can't entirely vouch for its accuracy - but it rings true):
Even though rationing formally ended in 1954, cheese production remained dramatically affected for decades afterward. During rationing, most milk in Britain was used to make just one kind of cheese, nicknamed "Government Cheddar" (not to be confused with the "government cheese" issued by the US welfare system). This wiped out nearly all other cheese production in the country, and some indigenous varieties of cheese almost disappeared. Later government controls on milk prices continued to discourage production of other varieties of cheese until well into the 1980s.
No wonder one of Ronald Reagan's favourite remarks to government underlings was "Don't just do something - stand there!"

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