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Richard Rider

How I Single-handedly Solved “The Great Toilet Paper Shortage” — a Lesson for Venezuela

The article below concerning the pathetic Venezuela de facto nationalization of the country’s toilet paper industry (to solve a government created TP shortage) is classic socialist folly — a tragicomedy version of ATLAS SHRUGGED.  But it reminds me of my days in the military, dealing with the same problem — “the great toilet paper shortage.”

MANY years ago I served as a junior Navy Supply Officer aboard a ship deployed in the Pacific.” The deck officer (an old salt with not the slightest grasp of economics or human nature) unilaterally decided that the ship was using too much toilet paper. Utilizing the wisdom of central planning, he established a toilet paper QUOTA system — toilet paper rolls would be distributed to each department on a per-person basis in the amount HE deemed to be sufficient..

The inevitable result? Sailors — officers and enlisted — immediately began hoarding toilet paper. No longer was there toilet paper in the stalls. People kept extra rolls locked up with their other valuables.

People were MAD, but not sure who to be mad at. Punishment was discussed at the command level for the hoarders.

I TRIED to explain how quotas lead to hoarding to the pugnacious old salt, but he was too bull-headed to relent from his edict. Finally (as Supply Officer) I put CASES of toilet paper rolls out on the deck, and made a public announcement that, henceforth anyone could get ANY amount from our storekeepers — I broke the monopoly and the blockkade.

There was an initial scramble, but then people quickly realized that there was no longer any reason to hoard toilet paper. The problem essentially disappeared that afternoon, and toilet paper was again available where needed (in the stalls!). I daresay the rolls of toilet paper used didn’t change appreciably.

Yes, the Venezuela toilet paper shortage is a bit more complicated, but it’s based on the same flawed central planning hubris that is rapidly destroying this very wealthy but rigidly socialist country.

Venezuela orders temporary takeover of toilet paper factory


Supermarket staff work next to partially empty shelves of toilet paper in Caracas May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

CARACAS (Reuters) – A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro say the nagging shortages of products ranging from bathroom tissue to milk are a sign his socialist government’s rigid price and currency controls are failing. They have also used the situation to poke fun at his administration on social media networks.

A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would “safeguard” the facility.

. . .

To see the rest of the story, go to the link.