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Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007 03:15 pm

The new bottom line

Corporate America thinks you deserve just five sheets

Untitled Document It has taken years of secret research, consultations with focus groups, and trial-and-error engineering work — but, at last, the corporate scientists have come up with the answer we’ve all been anxiously awaiting: five sheets. That’s the amount of toilet paper that Kimberly-Clark has determined that its new product — the world’s first-ever hands-off automatic electronic tissue dispenser — should dole out. Wave a hand in front of one of the device’s motion sensors and — zzzt — out zips your five-sheet allocation. A Kimberly-Clark spokesman says that this gizmo will help the corporation capture the $1 billion-a-year “away-from-home toilet-paper market.” Pointing out that many public restrooms already have automatic faucets, flushers, and towel dispensers, he notes, “the one part of the room where there’s not an automatic option is toilet tissue.”
Oh, great — as anyone knows who’s been to restrooms in those places, the machinery constantly goes on the fritz, and now they’re going to extend this same electronic “convenience” to toilet paper. The Kimberly-Clark CEO should have to list his cell-phone number on each machine so that we know whom to call when it refuses to give us our five sheets. By the way, what if you want six sheets? Oh, said the enthusiastic corporate spokesman, “People generally in life will take what you give them.” So Kimberly-Clark is betting that America has devolved from the rebellious spirit of the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of Independence to a people so compliant that we’ll meekly accept whatever amount of toilet tissue our corporate providers allow. Kimberly-Clark’s honchos are in for a surprise. My guess is that this corporation is going to find quite a few of its electronic dispensers ripped from the walls of stalls all across America. 

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.
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