Cast your bread upon the water, as Ecclesiastes says, and it will come back to you when you need it. Since bread is a common slang word for money, and since the toilet paper has arrived that I ordered two months ago, I see the truth in this. Paper spent for paper to use. While I’m pretty sure that’s not what old Qohelet exactly had in mind, it is the reality in which we live. There are experts that tell us the toilet paper shortage isn’t due to panic buying, but over eight weeks into this crisis and the shelves in Target and grocery stores still look like Mrs. Hubbard’s cupboards. All those people working from home must need more fibre in their diets. Or is it less? I can never remember. What other than bread satisfies? Clearly toilet paper does. And the fact that the nearest yeast, according to Siri, is in Tennessee, clearly has nothing to do with panic buying. Nothing at all.
People will go to any lengths to prove that we’re rational beings. We don’t like the image of being the panicky herd beasts we are. When I first realized the crisis was hard on us, it was March 16. That was my first grocery store trip where beans were as rare as moral Republicans and we still can’t find pasta or flour around here, even with stores stocking daily. The announcements on the loudspeaker beg buyers to get only what they really need, and leave some for others. The thing about panic, though, is that it’s anything but rational. It’s based on emotion washed in the myth of scarcity. It also shows what an unregulated economy soon devolves into. I’m sure many people rationalize panic buying as “just until things get back to normal.” Vanity, vanity, says Ecclesiastes.
Instead of the myth of scarcity we should believe in the myth of normalcy. That should’ve ended, for any reasoning being, in November of 2016. It isn’t normal for a prosperous nation to offer up someone who clearly has no governing ability for the most powerful office in the land. Two months into the largest crisis we’ve seen since the days of FDR and the White House response has been the null set. Meanwhile, I ordered toilet paper from abroad on March 16. The ship slowly made its way across the Pacific from China where, I understand, toilet paper is abundant. I’m just glad that there’s a rational explanation for all of this.