Written by Michael R. Shannon
For those of us who have been wondering how deeply into our personal business "environmentalists" plan to involve themselves, the results are in and the news is not good. But first, a bit of background is in order.
When I visited my grandparents in rural North Texas as a boy, I answered nature's call sitting atop a compost heap that was surrounded by an outhouse. Which means I was green while Al Gore was still living the high life in the Fairfax Hotel just outside Washington, DC.
My father was even more environmentally conscious; because when he was young the Sears Roebuck catalog not only provided reading material, it also served as toilet paper.
Modern residents can enjoy tactile sensations like my father's in highway rest stops, school restrooms and large commercial enterprises forced to grudgingly provide facilities by force of law. You aren't perched over the compost, but the paper products were, like Obama's diplomacy claims to be, somewhat robust.
Back in Texas, my father could use as much of the catalog as circumstances required, but our public facilities add insult to irritation by using the diabolical single-sheet toilet paper dispenser. Invented by Sheryl "One Square Is Plenty" Crow, this device limits customers to a single sheet of slick, one-molecule-thick "paper" per rotation.
This is ideal for government workers paid by the hour to use the bathroom, but for the rest of us the situation is intolerable. You're forced to huddle inside your stall, assembling a useable pad one square at a time - like some Cubist jigsaw puzzle. Each time you pull the roll it bangs on the metal catch, adding noise to your discomfort and updating a room filled with strangers as to the progress of your quilting project.
I'm convinced this device accounts for the majority of bathroom vandalism incidents. And it accounts for all incidents where the metal catch is snapped off by angry customers - freeing you and the roll to make real progress.
This unpleasantness can be avoided by saving your business for home where the paper is soft and plentiful - at least for now.
But here is where the "environmental" crusade rears it's granola-filled head. There is a movement (no pun intended) by gimlet-eyed "environmental" fanatics to force US manufacturers to emulate Europeans and make our toilet paper from recycled paper goods. Like, for instance, Sears catalogs.
I've seen some of this "paper" and it's an Emery board on a roll. A Big Chief tablet is softer and more absorbent.
In 1995 I brought "toilet paper" back from Poland as a souvenir. It was small, pink and had the consistency of a Brillo pad. The Poles had actively resisted Russian Communist control for decades and I thought the toilet paper exemplified this: tough minds - tough behinds. But I preferred constipation to the alternative their toilet paper represented.
Tim Spring, a toilet paper Calvinist who makes a 100-percent recycled product, claims that a "big marketing machine" has convinced US consumers that softness is important. But Spring is nuts. Americans have tried various alternatives to toilet paper and found them all wanting. Where does he think Southerners got the expression "rough as a cob?"
Canadian wieners are griping that American behinds are denuding their forests and damaging ecosystems valuable to bears.
Presumably their solution is for us to live the joke and adopt the bear's bathroom habits.
These scolds won't be happy until Americans are forced to use John Wayne toilet paper: Rough, Tough and Won't Take Crap Off Anybody.
It also occurs to me that consumers could be caught coming and going, so to speak, if revenue-hungry politicians joined with "greenies" and brought back the pay toilet.
This is another artifact of my childhood. In men's public bathrooms the stalls had a lock on the door and required either a dime or a quarter to unlock. This proved no obstacle to kids, because we just crawled under the door, but it did result in some nasty confrontations when a paying customer opened the door and found a short, busy trespasser.
Controlling your most personal activities and charging for it is a dream come true for "green" Democrats.
Personally, I wish I owned a paper products company. Here is a perfect opportunity for a niche product catering to a small market where price is no object when compared to the consumer's lofty moral concerns.
I've written about the religious overtones present in "environmentalism" and this is why I think Flagellum Brand toilet paper is the answer to a prayer (if atheists prayed). Made from recycled Boy Scout mulch and old copies of the Washington Post, my brand's motto would be "A scourge a day keeps the bears at play."