Now that PBS' "Downton Abbey" has concluded its six year world record smashing run, I thought we could turn our attention to a real world - you might say a Downstairs' issue in Downton's world - that sorely needs our attention: the cost of toilet paper.  Yes, I know, not what you might think of as a critical issue in today's America with ISIS threatening to blow up a city or two, the dangerous Zika virus spreading around the world and Donald Trump leading the Republican pack for the Presidency, but I ran across some really interesting toilet paper findings from the University of Michigan.     

Now, ff you are an adherent of the philosophy that poor people are poor through laziness (their own fault) or that Obama’s economic policies that have purposely plunged more White people into poverty (Obama is the cause of sunspots and the Ebola virus) clutched so dearly and closely to the hearts of Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Baggers and Mitt Romney, then you can stop reading right now.   Data doesn’t interest you because it clashes with your – and Mitt’s – world view that poor people simply lack those right wing morals and characteristics that guided Bristol Palin into having two children out of wedlock, “Personal Responsibility” and “Individual Initiative.” 

On the other hand, if you are like me and know that people are poor for any number of reasons – illness, factory closings, low wage-part-time-no-benefit jobs, being old and/or disabled, a war veteran, etc. then you might be interested in some research done recently by two University of Michigan professors, Yesim Orhun and Mike Palazzolo.    And, thank God their research has been published before Republican Governor Rick-water-poisoning-Snyder (“They were Black and poor, so what’s the problem?”) completely de-funds the University of Michigan for undertaking such obviously biased, liberal research.  Or, given that one of the researcher’s name, Yesim Orhun is so obviously Muslim (Turkish is my guess), before The Donald wins the Presidency and deports all Muslims from American soil. 

But I digress.  The research proves what many of us have intuitively suspected all along – that poor people actually pay more for stuff then we do since in order to pick up a package of thirty-five rolls of Kirkwood brand toilet paper at your local Costco (2-ply, 35 count) requires having a sufficient stash of money - $23.49 based on my instant research – which is just about the allotment for an entire week’s worth of groceries for a family of four if you are a SNAP (Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program) recipient.  So what happens in the real world, as opposed to the right wing world of fantasy beliefs that right wingers seem to hold religiously close (as in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, e.g.) poor folks don’t buy in bulk.  Why?  Well it could be because they are just too stupid, or high on drugs or too busy robbing their local 7-11 as Rush Limbaugh and Ted Cruz (R-TX) would have you believe. 

But in fact, (data, statistics, research in case you were wondering what the term “fact” means), rather than starving their kids to buy toilet paper in bulk, Orhan and Palazzolo discovered that poor folks generally buy a couple (maybe a $5 four-pack) rolls of toilet paper at their local 7-11 (when it’s not being stuck up by some high on heroin local neighborhood thug) rather than foregoing such non-essential items like Simvastatin or rice.  In researching over 100,000 households, they found that on average, poor folks pay 8.8% more than those of us who wait for toilet paper sales or buy in bulk from Sam’s Club.  Of course not buying in bulk means that when you run out of toilet paper, you run to the closest 7-11 to restock.  Then too, poor people – because they live in poor neighborhoods – don’t have access to large grocery stores – Safeway, Aldi – where they could save money on toilet paper or they have no car – like we do – to transport your 20 or 30 count Kirkwood Signature 2-ply bulk package home.  So, expanding the toilet paper research findings suggests that it costs poor people more to be poor, although Orhun and Palazzolo did not do this.  This is my personal, unsupported, non-scientific supposition.  

But if you believe that poor folks are just lazy and stupid, here’s another finding from the University of Michigan toilet paper guru’s:  towards the beginning of the month when those good for nothing Government moochers have more cash on hand, they tend to act just like the rest of us and take advantage of toilet paper sales and make bulk purchases.  Now, I don’t wish to insult Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and America’s Tea Bagger crowd, but I’m thinking that Orhun and Palazzolo's timely research (data, statistics, science) seems to indicate that if it weren’t for having a hell of a lot less money than those of us who are not among the Romney 47% Moocher crowd, they are pretty much like us. Well, at least when if comes to toilet paper!  Who Knew?

PS: Just saw a report on CBS This Morning that IRS audits are down to an eleven year low.  If you make less than $1 million dollars a year (presumably like your average American working schmuck) you have a less than 1% chance of the IRS taking you to task for cheating on your Form 1040.   Good news, for us.  But then again the reason for this all time low is because the Republican controlled Congress has cut IRS funding due to Lois Lerner’s targeting of right wing issue-oriented 501(c) 4 
“charitable” organizations for engaging in illegal political activity.   Not to dismiss such never-proven charges, but the IRS is one of the most profitable of Federal Agencies, returning some $10 to the U.S. Treasury for every $1 expended by the black shirted, black helmeted, AK-47 totin' agency goons.  So – and this is so predictable as to mimic Bible Based science that proves people and dinosaurs co-existed a mere 6,000 years ago – those savvy Tea Bagger Republicans prove one more time that they will let nothing stop them – including  hamstringing the Governments most profitable agency – from getting in the way of their fact-less, data-blank, statistically non-existent radical conservative ideology. 

If you're interested you can find out more about Orhun and Palazzolo's toilet paper research here:  

PPS: I could not be more pleased with yesterday's primary results.  Bernie took Michigan (close, but a win), Donald Trump surged and took three states, no doubt as a result of Establishment Republican attacks, but - and here is my gold! - Ted Cruz took Idaho and wormed his way into The Donald's lead!  

Have a cheap toilet paper day folks!


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