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August 03, 2008



What the HELL is up with you, are you seriously trying to give the bunch of incomptetents currently in charge of this country yet another illiberal idea?

And if they /were/ stupid enough to do so, do you really believe a lard black market would not exist?

Trooper Thompson

"And it would encourage the uptake of allotments. "

There are waiting lists already.

This is a crazy idea, which is premised on an incredibly patronising view of the average person. Whether or not I need saving from myself is nobody's business, least not the state. The rationing would obviously not affect the elite, only the ordinary people, and as there is no particular shortage in this country of food, what would the purpose be? To stop people eating too much? Zieg Heil!


Going point by point for fun:

1. Environment. Becoming a locavore doesn't reduce food miles; acquiring food produced locally actually increases them, which results in more environmental damage. Not the sort of thing you want to do if you really care about the environment. (Ref: http://tinyurl.com/buylocal )

2. Public health. Worked in Cuba. Everybody's less obese. And healthier. Nobody chose to do it. Are they happier for it?

3. Equality. How do we know that people who are poor aren't so because they're less healthy in the first place?

4. Great question!


Bugger oranges, they block my sinuses. Well, not actually the oranges, obviously, but the strange - presumably Socialist - effluvium therefrom. Otherwise, not a bad pisstake, Mr D.

Mark Brinkley

You make a really fascinating point. What you ignore is that many things are rationed by cost, not by government diktat, housing being a prime example. Personally, although I am no fan of govt intervention, I think food rationing would have a lot going for it.


"Whether or not I need saving from myself is nobody's business, least not the state."

But the Environmental argument (and the science surrounding it) suggests that overconsumption harms even those who don't engage in it. We don't need saving from ourselves, but there are occasions when we need saving from others.

Neil Harding

"the fact that no-one is calling for food rationing"

I like the idea, sooner or later it will happen - probably by a Tory government and these loud mouth pretend liberals will then support it all the way. They wouldn't allow Labour to so it though.


Excellent suggestion, but you don't go nearly far enough. Alcohol, too, must be rationed, and even more than alcohol, fuel and energy needs rationing.

If everyone in the UK were rationed to 5 litres of vehicle fuel a day, 4x4s would disappear from the streets and be replaced by mopeds and cycles; people would walk and take public transport, immeasurably improving their health and longevity. Dishwashers and tumble driers should be banned outright, and all heating thermostats to be limited to a maximum 18 deg. Electricity itself should be rationed, allowing citizens the choice between lighting their homes and two washing-machine loads a week - true choice, Labour choice, that empowers people and is good for them.

Clothing and footwear also need to be allocated by the State; perhaps the ministries could commission a national design for a 'utility' boilersuit that minimised the use of scarce resources, and boots made of recycled cardboard. Injuries caused by high-heels, tight bras and decadent underpants would be eliminated overnight.

Resources wasted on frivolous entertainment should also be curbed. So a single national TV channel, then, broadcasting educational and morale-boosting programmes, and essential State information. And a ban on iPods and all such harmful hedonistic technologies; the nation's hearing would be improved by great bounds.

Let fly the glorious Labour banners of National Improvement, Comrade Dillow! Forward to a thinner, sober, and utilitarian New Britain!

Gerard O'Neill

"We have abundant evidence that food rationing is both technically feasible and effective - our experience from 1940 to 1954."

Wasn't there a war on or something around then? My parents grew up in Northern Ireland during WWII and enjoyed a non-rationed diet of butter, bacon etc from across the border in the then 'Free State'. So for rationing to work again for Britain you'd either need a war (with a few U-boats of the coast to discourage smugglers) or for the rest of the EU to join in.

Can't see it flying somehow ...

Bob B

Not fly? What nonsense. How well I recall those glorious years of rationing food, sweets and clothing with all those benefits it brought in its wake. Those were the days. And now there would be a welcome additional benefit with the prospect of a recession looming - the new business to be generated by food smuggling.

In the late 1990s, with hikes in the punitive tax levied on tobacco products in Britain, cigarette smuggling developed into a vast international criminal business. Apparently, Serbia was a major locus of the organisation of the smuggling operations by the account of a recent BBC report and the profits generated thereby helped to finance the war in Serbia and ethnic cleansing there. Well done Gordon.

But then smuggling has long historic roots in Britain as evidenced by this poem of Rudyard Kipling:


How will Ocado stamp your ration book then? And would rationing be for a monetary amount, or a physical one? If it's the former, then your coupons would go further at Lidl and Aldi than at M&S. This enforced lesson in budgetary restraint would surely mean that irresponsible spendthrifts also become extinct, along with fat bastards? Two birds, one stone...


Hey Zorro
guess what - the government doesn't take orders (or even any notice) of Chris. TT cool it, he is only joking.

But Chris, why do think smoking bans are there for the benefit of smokers? I thought they were for the benefit of non-smokers (you know externalities and all that). But as for food rationing, if things became bad enough it could happen.


But the correct answer is of course that we live in a democracy and it wouldn't be popular. That is a problem of a lot of these sort of what if discussions. Democracy, imperfect as it is, does work (to some extent).


That is to say, the effectiveness of a policy is not the only criteria. (That is my big beef with Libertarians, they think the government has to be judged solely on the basis of whether it makes correct decisions, not on the basis of whether it does what the consitituents want it to.)

Bob B

Minister of Food:

The standard forms of 1940-54 rationing were mostly by quantity per week (cheese, eggs, sugar, butter, bacon, meat etc) but there were separate points systems applied by coupons payable for tinned foods and for clothing/textiles where the points could be varied over time to cope with supply fluctuations. In other words, a dual pricing system.

There was heavy early propaganda in the war to promote the growing of veggies at home or on neighbourhood allotments, especially carrots which were upheld as especially good for improving night vision during the night time "blackouts" - no street lights.

In the propaganda, eating carrots was promoted as the principal reason for the many successes of cats-eyes Cunningham, a celebrated night-fighter pilot who attacked night time bomber raiders but that was, in part, a cover story for development of radar sets carried by night fighters like the Mosquito, a plane with multi-roles which has never received the credit it justly deserves.

I recall a memorable American cartoon series Popeye, the Sailor Man, by Associated Artists, of which I was a dedicated personal fan, promoting spinach eating:

One fascinating insight: Hugh Dalton, who was to become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Attlee government, was appointed Minister of Economic Warfare in Churchill's wartime coalition government.


How, exactly, would removing tens of thousands of poorly-paid, poorly-qualified workers from entirely productive jobs in fast food restaurants promote 'equality'?



I suspected Mr Dillow was using sarcasm in his piece. That doesn't change the fact that we are ruled by a bunch of authoritarian asshats who should not be left in charge of a Whelk-Stall. PLEASE do not give them ideas like this...

No matter HOW STUPID it sounds to the rest of us I would not put it past New Labour and Brown Trousers.


Bob B

Ours is not to reason why.

The sun seldom sets on a day before at least two leaflets have dropped through my letterbox promoting some species of fast food or another ethnic restaurant. Until the credit crunch developed, I mused on the prospect of starting a part-time job organising home re-mortgages to fund the purchase of Pizzas, a snip at £19-99 a time.

Luis Enrique

But pragmatism isn't just about whether we have the technical capability, it's also about whether the policy would enjoy popular support. I think food rationing would not enjoy popular support; if I thought otherwise I might countenance advocating food rationing, to obtain the benefits you describe. Some of the more excitable commentators at CIF have views that verge on advocating rationing, implicitly. Perhaps if the arguments for rationing gained popularity, one day we'd greet the imposition of food rationing with the same enthusiasm that the majority appears to have greeted the smoking ban.


"Wasn't there a war on or something around then?"

Isn't there a war or something going on now?

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