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Cartoon in Chicago Tribune, 1946.
Chester Bowles Papers. Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University.

Elizabeth Campbell 09, Chester Bowles: Intellectual or Politician?

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Chester Bowles is not flatteringly portrayed in this 1946 Chicago Tribune “Gyroscope” cartoon. The cartoon, drawn during Bowles’s years as head of the Office of Price Administration (OPA), criticizes Bowles’s handling of a World War II-era wage vs. price debate. In 1946, public debate raged as to whether high prices on certain goods should be answered with federally-funded wage increases. The OPA, tasked with handling wartime inflation, often placed price ceilings on non-agricultural goods, and was seen as an economic stabilizer, during World War II.

Bowles’s OPA position brought him a good deal of newfound fame, a reputation as an administrator with private-sector sensibilities, and national-level political clout—the combination of which effectively launched Bowles’s political career. These feats were not achieved without public criticism, as the snide verse accompanying this cartoon intimates.