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canaries, coal mines and toilet paper

A century ago coal miners would take a caged canary down into the mine with them. If the air was not good enough that the miners could breathe for long, the canary would pass out [and die]. Thus the canary in the coal mine communicates a very serious warning.

Today cleaning products are rationed in many major retail outlets. Toilet paper is unavailable, extremely high priced or rationed. This is your warning. The toilet paper canary has passed out. Evacuate the mine or prepare to survive an inhospitable environment. The coming shortages will be of every shelf, in every department, of every store.

UGLY will be right behind

The production and supply chain for toilet paper is what makes it such a good predictor. The number of butts in this country needing wiping is very steady. Toilet paper factories are highly mechanized, expensive to build and have very few employees. They run 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week. The rolls of paper transferred into the supply chain is very steady … and unbending.

Fifty years ago stores had back rooms or in the case of large ones, attached warehouses. They stopped building them like that decades ago. Modern store inventories are on the road in 18-wheelers headed their way. This is very efficient and economical for the stores. Thus one that ties up capital in a back room loses out to those who can sell products cheaper. *POOF* They are gone… and with them any reserve supply of anything.

Nervous customers, some might say prescient, preppers, hoarders, Boy Scouts, or conservatives, are picking up a scent of the next TP shortage in the air. They are buying enough for more than a few days, or weeks even. Uh oh. The supply line is not and can not be rigged for that. For the factory or transportation network to gear up would be a series of major investments with no corresponding increase in butts to wipe over the long run. Smart money doesn’t go there.

At this juncture I will mention, as an aside, that the way we grew up and grew used to cleaning post-defecation is neither The Only Way nor the only civilized way. Prepper sites offer many alternatives – as do plumbing supply stores like the Kohler bidet seat to the right that can be installed on your regular toilet. It won’t be long from the time the last toilet roll in town leaves the store shelves that the last bidet does too.

Behaviorists teach that we don’t adopt ideas significantly astray of our norms on the first hearing. That one creates a crack in the seam. The second one pries it a bit more open. The third time we are presented with a radical idea is the earliest most will accept the concept. More revolutionary ideas may take numerous suggestions over a long period.

The last sentence describes my decision to order an bidet add-on-seat for my toilet.
Worst case: I’m out a hundred bucks.
Pretty solid bet: my sensitivity to toilet paper supplies is about to shrink dramatically.
Best case: I am changing to a superior posterior maintenance system,
based on many reviews and suggestions from acquaintances,

Interesting trip: birdies, budgies, bums and bidets 😉