The toilet paper drought is finally hitting the Bronx

Since this COVID-19 thing started in New York City, people have been panic buying. One dude buying 20 jars of spaghetti sauce, every shelf in the store is now empty, kind of panic buying. Or at least, that’s how it was down in Manhattan near my mom’s place.

At the two grocery stores near our apartment in the Bronx, everything has been pretty regular in terms of availability. For a few days, the grocery stores were out of ginger. The liquid hand soap was gone from one of two grocery stores for a week. The TP was gone for a few days, but then was restocked. Now, one grocery store has TP and the other doesn’t.

It doesn’t seem like a hoarding issue so much as a supply issue at this point. In the last month, people bought three or more months worth the toilet paper instead of what they would normally buy, so there’s just a shortage coming out of the factories. A self-fulfilling TP shortage.

The food shelves were never totally emptied here. I can tell sales are good though, because I haven’t seen a damn thing on sale at Key Foods for two weeks. I’d like to go to Walmart in NJ, but with the way people are talking, I’m not sure there’d be anything there to buy. Or maybe there’s a line? Or maybe it’s going to be full of people passing the virus around to each other?

I get why people hoard now, though. When they first started, I didn’t understand it. It looked like people were just being stupid, but I’ve been thinking about it and I realized that some people must literally have bought enough so they could go in their house and not come out for weeks or months, because they have the money for it and a job that allows them to work from home. And, given that almost 300 people are dying a day in New York City right now, maybe that was the right move after all. The more you limit your exposure, the more likely you are to not die in the next few months.

Not dying due to exposure to the pandemic has become a class privilege. Just like Cuomo freezing mortgages but not rents. Apparently, renters are supposed to magically pull rent out of their butts even if they haven’t been working, but home owners have to be protected. Even though they’re in the minority.

It doesn’t seem like people in this part of the Bronx are as prone to hoarding as people in other neighborhoods. We’ve discussed whether it’s because of culture, not recognizing the seriousness of the pandemic, or because people in this area just can’t afford to buy multiple weeks or months of groceries all at once in advance. Maybe it’s a bit of all three.

Only the off-brand stuff is left.

Anyway, the shelves are finally starting to look a little bare in the TP section now. Paper towels too. We still bought the same was what we’d normally buy. We have actual towels that we can use instead of paper towels and if we run out of TP, we can wash our butts in the shower.

So, totally not worried about that.

Coronavirus Journal: Day 22 – Corporate Bailouts

I talked to a guy on the phone for work and he said that he was still going to the park and I guess that’s fine. That’s allowed. But it just seems so dangerous to me. Not just for him, but for his kids and anyone else he comes in contact with at home. The parks aren’t officially closed but the number of cases and the number of deaths in New York City is skyrocketing. 222 people died on Saturday in New York City. I miss going out but I’m happy to just watch the world pass by from my window until the pandemic dies down to reasonable levels. I’m not interested in becoming a casualty.

There are a lot of stupid people posting online about how COVID-19 is “just like the flu” or “no worse than the flu”. That’s not just a stupid thing to say, it’s also a dangerous thing to say. Downplaying the severity of the illness and making people think it’s ok to go out in big groups is going to make things worse and drag the whole thing out longer than it needs to. It’ll kill more people.

The death rate for COVID-19 is much higher than the average flu. The average death rate for flu is about .1%. The average death rate for COVID-19 is 4.7% worldwide (as of today, 3/29/2020 at 7PM EST). 4.7% of the US population is 15,510,000. So, obviously, COVID-19 is a lot worse, and it can hit young people too, not just the elderly. Then, all it takes is having some underlying condition that you might not even be aware of for your entire immune system to be overwhelmed. Then you wind up as just another statistic.

The $2.2T dollar stimulus deal the US government passed is a joke. It’s not even a stimulus. It’s another corporate bailout designed to protect the stock portfolios of the wealthy. It’s like all of these politicians forgot that the way the economy stays healthy is by increasing the spending power of the lower and middle classes. Money has to be flowing from the bottom up, but we’ve had a problem in the US for decades where the money that flows up to the top isn’t coming back down. Trickle down economics is a lie. Anyone still pushing it has an agenda and that agenda isn’t to make America and the American economy strong. It’s to line someone’s pockets.

This probably all goes back to the shift in the US economy from being an industrial economy to being a service/financial (creating money out of thin air through financial bullsh*ting) economy. We don’t make anything here anymore. Not in any significant amounts. Finding something Made in the USA is like finding a four leaf clover. And now we’re suffering because of it. The world is suffering because of how much we’ve outsourced to other countries, especially China.

China gave us COVID-19. Then they turned around and sold defective face masks to the Netherlands that were used in their hospitals where COVID-19 is being treated. Then they gave defective testing kits to the Philippines.

Made in China. It already meant “low quality”. Now it means “dangerous” too. But I don’t really blame China. China is playing the Capitalist game that the West pushed on them.

We have created a system that drives people to create companies that are as exploitative as possible, with no loyalty to their workers or the country that they got started in. It’s disgusting. I’m not pushing the idea that we need full-on Communism, Socialism, and Fascism, but I think we need to move back towards a point where we as a nation, and the Financial parasites in particular, have a sense of loyalty and duty to the country and their workers.

Workers should share in the success of a company. I saw an interview once with a Japanese CEO of Japan Airlines in Tokyo. He was absolutely shocked by how much company executives make compared to their workers. He felt that he made a good amount of money and that there was pride and prestige in his position. He felt a responsibility for his employees and lowered his pay along with theirs during the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

We need that in the US. Something is broken. Companies are getting a bailout again and the peasants are getting a trifle that won’t even, in many cases, cover the rent and basic utilities. If this goes on for another month, people are going to need another check from the government and they’ll need one that’s substantial enough to actually make a difference. Or the hit to the housing economy is going to be substantial.

But at least we have toilet paper, I guess.

Key Foods in the Bronx. Toilet paper is making it back onto the shelves.

Public Toilets in Malls in the Philippines

Today while at Megamall in Manila, I had reason to visit one of the public toilets.  It took me a while, because the restroom was crowded, but I finally managed to secure a stall.  When I walked in, there was piss all over the floor, no toilet seat, and no toilet paper.  I wasn’t expecting that, but when I saw it I remembered that it’s always that way.  I first visited Manila in 2008 and noted that the public toilets never seem to have paper or even toilet seats available. 

It seems like such a basic commodity to have in public restrooms that I always take for granted that some will be available.  Back in 2008, I asked my wife why there aren’t any toilet seats or paper and she said it’s probably because if it were there, people would steal it.  That makes sense and she’s from the Philippines so her guess is better than mine.

So, if you’re going out, even to a seemingly high end shopping center, be sure to bring your own stock of toilet paper.  It wouldn’t hurt to bring antibacterial wet hand wipes either.  Or, if you’re really in need of comfort, there is one other solution, which, thankfully, fit perfectly into our plans for our evening out.

On the 5th (or 4th?) floor of Megamall there are quite a few massage / pedicure / manicure / etc. type parlors.  You can treat yourself, or your spouse, to one of these services and then partake of their pleasant smelling, well appointed restrooms, like the one pictured below.  I don’t remember the name of the place but it’s pretty nice and my wife says she got good service there, so we’ll be going back for massages soon.  More on that later!

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