How to stop the toilet paper panic

Thanks to Big Data, it would be easier to stop the toilet paper panic in its tracks.

Step 1: Announce that anyone holding more than, say, 50 rolls (per person in a household) must hand in the excess to a charity, and notify the government that they have done so.

Step 2: A week later, order supermarkets to hand over the data they collect on purchases, and raid people with large stocks that have not been surrendered. Confiscate the lot, and leave them with an ample supply of newspaper.

Is this a serious option, in view of the associated invasion of privacy? Given the kinds of restrictions on anti-social behavior that are going to be needed, I think it would be the right kind of signal to send. And, if we are scared about the potential misuse of this kind of data, this would prompt some proper restrictions once the emergency is over.

61 thoughts on “How to stop the toilet paper panic

  1. 1. Alan D: ” I agree with Andrew, hc and Anthony Park that a temporary rise in the price of toilet paper would probably work. ”
    vs
    2. My ‘entrepreneurial activity’ (speak price gouging or profiteering) hypothesis.

    Report: https://www.smh.com.au/national/no-place-for-price-gouging-online-platforms-crack-down-on-profiteering-20200319-p54buz.html

    The smh report of today on empirical evidence is sufficient to reject the null hypothesis that proposition 2 is false. (with respect to toilet paper and hand sanitisers).

    It is more difficult (time and resources) to test my related hypothesis that entrepreneurial activity (profiteering) is the trigger for what looks like ‘irrational panic buying’ a week or two or three afterwards. I am still hoping to gain a little bit of information from Mr Dutton’s promised action. This will take time because some form of legal action will be involved, I assume. Even if legal action is involved, I can’t be sure the transcripts will provide the crucial information on the timing. But I don’t mind admitting there is hope involved in making progress on this one.

    I don’t know of any method and I can’t think of one to test statement 1.

  2. I struggle to not think of the Corvinus clan of the “Underworld” movies – Quadrillogy plus one.

    “Then I found Michael Corvin; a human, who was turned to neither Vampire or Lycan, but a Hybrid of the two, and everything changed.” – Selene, during the prologue of “Underworld Awakening”

    Michael Corvin is a modern-day descendant of the Corvinus Clan. He was born in the United States but his paternal grandparents were from Hungary. He studied medicine to become a surgeon. He then becomes the first Lycan/Vampire Hybrid after Lucian (Lycan) and Selene (Vampire), who later becomes his lover; bite him. He and Selene have a teenage daughter named Eve.”

    The Corvinus clan was infected by a virus that killed many people (middle ages, middle Europe, Carpathians perhaps) but also acted to introduce strange mutations into some. One of a set of twins who had what came to be called corvinus virus was bitten by a rabid bat and became a vampire and one was bitten by a rapid wolf and became a werewolf. The family story becomes an ugly blood feud of Lycans versus Vampires and this “war” passes down through 500 years or more to the present day.

    Since you will likely be binge watching everything you can lay your hands on, I recommend this as wonderful B grade horror, completely over the top and almost with a touch of camp… or at least vamp.

    It’s much less frightening to watch this series than to watch the corona-virus epidemic unfold. Of course, that’s because the corvinus epidemic cannot happen but the corona-virus epidemic can happen and is happening.

  3. Moz, best to get the bushfire relief in while we can. I think the government is happy to ignore it even though it’s responsible for around one quarter of the expected economic downturn the Coronavirus fiscal stimulus is supposed to counter.

  4. Ronald, I’m not disagreeing with you, more … what were we talking about? Turtle!

    The attention span of the media, and I fear also the venereal pubic is very short. Whether they can remember two unfolding disasters at the same time is an open question – they seemed to find the bushfires a suitable distraction from the rolling disaster of the Coalition governmunt. I note that the sports rorts have almost disappeared from the media, and there doesn’t seem to be any legal fallout for the various alleged criminals involved.

  5. Smith9 – the veneer of society is thin in Straya.

    Sad to report;
    Aldi yesterday – checkout person – young female – left bruised across top of chest – volley of blows. Male Perp Arrested.

    Woolies – young checkout kids walking away to calm down from abuse and returning to the war.

    And no potatoes last 2 days.

  6. Smith 9, good to see the crisis hasn’t shaken rationality…always a worry when people show unselfishness.

  7. “How about the bus loads of city people who are descending on country towns and stripping the supermarkets, like locusts?”

    There’s no evidence to support the stories that busloads of city dwellers have been descending on country towns and stripping supermarket shelves bare, according to The Guardian and other outlets that have attempted to investigate the claims:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/21/are-busloads-of-shoppers-really-stripping-australias-regional-supermarkets-bare

    However, the stories are still instructive—a familiar case of scapegoating “outsiders”, in this case city dwellers and Asians, to cover for the fact that we’re doing a poor job of mobilising as a society in a moment of acute crisis.

    I’m glad that federal Labor are pushing the federal government and supermarket chains on the difficulties people who are required to quarantine or self-isolate have in accessing essential supplies.

    Journalists should have been questioning governments and supermarkets for weeks on what their strategies are for ensuring that food distribution networks are maintained as infection rates increase, there is increasing demand for home deliveries and the possibility of staff shortages. They have instead been taking to twitter to complain about “panic buying”.

  8. Luke Elford,

    I agree. Our governments have been entirely reactive and way behind events, except perhaps Tasmania’s government. Morrison is still reactive and way behind the real measures his government, I mean our government, should be implementing.

    Our borders should have been closed two to four weeks earlier than they were. Chinese visitors should have been stopped even earlier that that and Chinese students never permitted to return for this semester. Because the Morrison government hs been weak, foolish and totally lacking in foresight there now will be thousands more deaths than necessary just in Australia alone and even maybe tens of thousands.

  9. “Morrison is still reactive and way behind the real measures his government, I mean our government, should be implementing.”

    Who’s not counting the considered boost to religion a little tribulation brings on?

    Let it rip.

    When Smirko next delivers another homey paternal talk to camera from behind the office desk, as he is bound to, note the theology collection on the bookshelves behind him. Not law, not marketing, not economics, not political science, not history, not biography, not science, not foreign relations, not arts, not medicine, not any of that, but racked theological works close to hand are the deliberately placed stand out.

    We voted for it.
    He ordained it.
    It’s our fulfilment.

  10. The government has increased the stimulus by an order of magnitude, so now the bushfire portion is only a few percent.

  11. I hope I am temporary scared.

    Scomo and Joshy used “temporary” numerous times in recent press conferences re stimulus measures. JQ said ” if we are scared about the potential misuse of this kind of data, this would prompt some proper restrictions once the emergency is over”, I hope.

    “As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets

    “Tracking entire populations to combat the pandemic now could open the doors to more invasive forms of government snooping later.
    March 23, 2020

    “In South Korea, government agencies are harnessing surveillance-camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to helptrace the recent movements of coronavirus patients and establish virus transmission chains.”
    nytimes com/2020/03/23/technology/coronavirus-surveillance-tracking-privacy.html

    -insert dot into link.

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