Guns instead of butter


July 3, 2022

"Guns instead of butter" in macroeconomics is a trivial example used when considering the Production Possibilities Frontier, abbr. PPF. On the graph, type X points outside the PPF curve are unreachable. Points B, C, and D correspond to the trade-offs between cannons and butter: at the respective levels of production, an increase in the output of one good requires a decrease in the output of the other. The points on the PPF curve itself represent stable combinations of volumes that can occur when a particular resource is scarce. Point A, located inside the curve, is a combination at which there is an underutilization of available resources.

In politics

In politics, the opposition of guns to oil was first heard during the First World War in the United States in the context of discussions on the country's budget. In response to the shortage of butter in Nazi Germany, Hermann Goering delivered a speech in the spring of 1935 to the NSDAP activists in Hamburg, ending it with the words: “armament will make us strong ... but people will only get fat from butter!”. His words were picked up by propaganda, as well as by critics outside of Germany (for example, the German anti-fascist artist John Heartfield created the satirical photo collage “Hooray, the oil is over!”). Then the Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels said this at the party congress of Gau Berlin on January 17, 1936: “If necessary, we can do without oil, but never without guns.” And on October 11, 1936, Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess at the grand opening of the Adolf Hitler Hall in Hof: “The slogan“ Guns instead of butter! ”(German Kanonen statt Butter) is still relevant, that is, before having more oil, you need have more guns, otherwise someday they will take our last oil. Since 1937, a rationing system for the distribution of butter was introduced in Germany: the weekly norm was 150 grams until the spring of 1942. In the judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Hess's use of this slogan in support of the sacrifice of the German people for Hitler's vigorous rearmament policy was cited as justification for his crimes against peace. The expression "Guns instead of butter" later became winged, symbolic