In Reply to: Re: Guns before butter posted by Smokey Stover on December 22, 2009 at 04:08:
: : 'Guns before butter' - where did this phrase originate from?
: I'm going to make a guess. Someone else can look it up and make me look a fool.
: My guess is World War II. But I don't actually remember the phrase. After all, the resources employed in making butter are of no avail in making guns. But it's true that in the U.S. and the U.K., butter was pretty scarce. That was because it went to feed soldiers. Those on the home front learned (painfully) to eat oleomargarine. In the U.S., dairy interests got federal legislation requiring the sellers of margarine NOT to color the white substance yellow. They included, with the bars of margarine, some separately wrapped coloring that you could apply to the margarine yourself at home. Fortunately, them days is gone forever. Or at least so I hope.
Mr. Safire has a long entry about this phrase. In part, it says, "guns before butter," meaning "the strain placed on consumer products and social welfare projects by a nation that must place a higher priority on war supplies." Attributed to Hermann Goering, 1936 radio broadcast: "Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat." It came to mean the economic sacrifices that a nation at war must make. Later in the U.S., the phrase changed to guns AND butter, "a charge that the President is refusing to face up to the sacrifices required." U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson made the charge against President Harry Truman and, as President Johnson, was on the receiving end of the criticism. "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Page 308-309.