I thought I might use this week’s blog to put into words what I call the “Toilet Paper Theory”. I can’t say that I have ever really put this down in print before. This is just something I made up a few years ago to explain to liberals why any government program that obscures who is paying for what is bad. Originally I developed this theory for Obamacare, but it holds true for any situation where the person consuming the goods or service is not the one directly paying for those goods or services.
Let’s picture a scenario. It’s Sunday and you just went shopping for your weekly groceries. You spent your whole grocery budget and were able to get enough to last you and your family including two adults and 2 children for the week. You know that you will not be able to get more groceries until next Sunday. As part of the contents of those groceries was a 12 pack of toilet paper, which we will follow for the week.
Monday: There are 12 rolls of toilet paper. Life is good! You stride into the bathroom like the king or queen that you are, wiping with wild abandon. You have 12 rolls after all. You might even contemplate going to Taco Bell later.
Tuesday: There are 9 rolls left. Still feeling pretty good. You have no worries about the future of your toilet paper. The toilet paper is not being used with such wild abandon as yesterday, but still no particular caution is being taken. If a spill happens and the toilet paper is closer in reach than paper towels, you might use them.
Wednesday: There are 7 rolls left. At this point, while you don’t modify the use of your toilet paper in the bathroom, you will start to notice the supply is dwindling. You will actively look for paper towels for those spills. At this point the level of toilet paper is merely on your radar.
Thursday: There are 5 rolls left. One of your kids gets a 12 hour stomach bug. Food is running right through him. You are going through a lot of toilet paper. Now the number of rolls becomes an ever increasing worry in your mind. You might, at this point, mention to the family that they need to watch how much toilet paper they use while in the bathroom.
Friday: There are 3 rolls left. At this point you are getting anxious every time you see one of your kids go into the bathroom. “You better not be going crazy with the toilet paper!” you might yell. You see your spouse go into the bathroom and your stomach drops.
Saturday: There is 1.5 rolls left. At this point you are in survival mode. You ration out squares as your children and spouse walk into the bathroom. “Do you think I’m running a hotel here!” you say when your oldest child asks for a few more squares. They do their best eye roll and sneak some while you’re not looking.
Sunday: There is a half roll of toilet paper left as you go to the store and get your new 12 pack. The cycle starts again.
Now let’s run through this scenario again but with a small difference. You recently won a contest from your favorite local radio station and the prize was a month’s supply of toilet paper. All you have to do is call a number and a 12 pack of your favorite toilet paper will be overnighted to your home. That first week you spend the $8 that would have purchased toilet paper on other groceries. You decide to start the month with 48 rolls, your average monthly usage. You start giving rolls to your friends and neighbors and treat every day like it is Monday. You find after the first week you only have 24 rolls left and order 48 more, just to be on the safe side. As the end of the month approaches and you have doubled your weekly average, you decide to get another 48 rolls to keep you stocked up for a while after the contest promotion is over. In total the toilet paper company delivered 144 rolls of toilet paper.
The example used in this analogy was purposefully comical in nature, but illustrates a very basic concept. If you are not using your own money in the purchasing of things two things become true, you don’t care as much for the things you have and you tend to use more things. If you put yourself in the position of this family you will certainly have to admit you would have acted in a similar manner, I know I would have. It’s human nature. When you go to an all you can eat buffet you tend to eat more than if you had to pay for each plate.
When our governmental officials spend money, it is not their money. This fact insulates them from any repercussions in the event that what they spend money on is not good. They feel no personal attachment to the money they spend and neither do we. We hear these crazy numbers like trillion dollar debt and billion dollar budget for this program or that and don’t blink an eye. It’s “government” money after all. It’s “government debt not mine. When government programs like Obamacare, welfare, farmer welfare, corporate welfare, etc… are used to supplement incomes of people and businesses, those two things are still true.
On a small scale like in my example above, it’s not a huge deal. On the national level it is devastating. People buying stuff they don’t normally buy drives supply down and the price up for everyone. This is one of the main reasons healthcare is so expensive. You pay your copay which is usually a percentage of the bill and your insurance carrier pays the rest. If you knew that the over the counter pain medicine they gave you in the hospital was $100 a pill, you would have had someone go to the grocery store and pick up a whole bottle for $5. Healthcare costs, and everything else the government touches, is driven up because the person using it doesn’t pay for it directly. If you did, you wouldn’t be able to afford it and the price would have to come down or the doctor would go out of business. This whole process creates a vicious circle of subsidy. The higher the price goes, the more subsidy is needed by the government, causing ever higher prices, etc…
If you want to solve the problem of soaring prices in any area, simply remove the never ending wallet that hides the true price. Think of the money that your government spends as your money, because it is. Government does not generate its own money. The money it prints only goes to the government after it is taken from your wallet. Remember that.
You will believe my theory when you go to the grocery store and your child asks you for a 12 oz. bottle of designer water that costs more than the gallon of regular spring water sitting right beneath it.