The nylon lines, the "no-butter-today" signs, the creeping national scandal of the black market were signs of the times. They were also OPA's Achilles' heel. What was the use of price control when there were no goods under the price tags? The U.S. consumer craved a thousand things, but the race for scarce items went to the swift and knowing—not always the same as the honest or the deserving—citizen.

OPA's harshest critics conceded that it had done a creditable job of holding the line in wartime. Its best friends admitted that ever since the Administration had blithely abandoned most rationing and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!