Rationing

 

            Rationing in Haven has been in effect since the arrival of the first settlers. Over the years conditions have improved since those early days and the degree of rationing has become considerably less severe. Nevertheless, almost every good and service on the islands is subject to rationing, be it food, clothing, hydro, pharmaceuticals, etc. There is a saying in Haven that about the only thing that isn't rationed is the air, and that if the government could ration how much we breathe it would.

            The most restricted items in Haven are petroleum-based fuels. As a consequence, few vehicles on the islands are powered by gas-driven engines. All those that are have either been imported from the Third Reich or are salvage from mainland cities. The preponderance of automobiles and trucks on the roads of the republic are electric powered. Most of these have a range of about fifty miles before requiring a charge, so it is common to find charging posts (often referred to as "hitching posts" or simply a "hitch" – presumably after the "horse hitching post") at most parking spots. Even remote locations are often serviced by hitches powered by windmills.

            The heavy reliance on hydro for transportation purposes means that electricity is also a severely rationed commodity. All RBs (Ration Books) contain Electric Allotment coupons (EACs) that must be exchanged when using services that require the use of hydro. Even when purchasing many goods, EACs must be included with payment. (The coupons must be exchanged when paying for fares on taxis, riding the city streetcars and buses, and when purchasing tickets on any train service throughout the islands. Coupons must also be relinquished at restaurants to cover the hydro usage required to cook a meal.)

             In an attempt to bring some equity into the distribution and use of power, the government instituted the Electrical Ration Quota. This applies to most devices that use electricity, including stoves, ceiling fans, televisions and radios, coffee percolators, etc. Where coupons are impractical, tokens are used (such as in the meter boxes in households that regulate the use of fans and home appliances, as well as when paying for the use of the hitches in parking spaces). Tokens are obtained by the exchange of EACs in order to ensure fairness in the system.

            When an individual's monthly allotment of tokens is exhausted, he or she must wait until the next issuance of tokens before using a given electrical device again. As a result of these restrictions, there is a thriving black market in tokens.

            Automobile owners are assessed hydro consumption based on need, with a set number of miles per day designated in accordance with residential location, professional standing, and a determination of whether an individual's job is classified "essential". Most doctors, for example, fall in the "unlimited" category, while students are assessed the lowest quota of travel miles. Mileage may be accumulated to provide for longer, infrequent trips; and as with many other quotas, there is a steady underground market.

           The islands are blessed with an abundance of fertile land in many different forms suitable for the growing of several varieties of crops. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to ration food. While some produce is more readily available than others and rationing is minor – as in the case of locally caught fish stocks – there are certain goods that are restricted. Flour is one such commodity that is tightly controlled, largely because the wheat from which it is made is land intensive and not as economically justifiable as the more readily available potato.

            Because flour is so restricted, baked goods tend to be expensive. Individuals are generally limited to one 2 pound bag of flour each month. As a consequence, many supplement wheat flour with potato and rice flour.

            The Third Reich exports large quantities of beef and pork (and untreated leather) to the islands, the result being that meat is one of the least restricted items and shoes and other leather-made goods tend to be relatively plentiful and inexpensive. Quotas for beef are generally among the highest, closely followed by pork.

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