Heaped Up Loo Roll in the Last Days

The last month has seen people panic-buying food and household items and then hoarding them. When one considers there to be a problem in the supply chain, stocking up on commodities ensures availability within the household. Bizarrely, one type of good most stockpiled was toilet paper. Quite why loo roll should be so sought after I haven’t the foggiest. It’s certainly not nice being caught out in that regard, but a flu pandemic doesn’t generally affect the digestive process. Presumably, these same people will amass nasal spray should there be a national outbreak of dysentery. 

My local Co-op, a shop I patronise because it’s within walking distance rather than its offering value for money, has erected signs on certain shelves stating that no more than two of that kind of product can be bought in one go. This is ‘for the sake of other customers’. Shops which in normal times delight in our bursting trollies with buy-one-get-one-free type deals, are now restricting the purchases we make. For the first two weeks of this whole affair, I was without bread, until a kind soul managed to get me some. While honest men return home breadless, others have it stashed in freezers or left a-mouldering on worktops. Hoarding is having too much of something, while others, presumably, can’t get enough.

Being unable to buy bread I found to be annoying, yet it’s something the rich have been up to for several millenia. The Virtual Capitalist website charts where some of the world’s wealthiest billionaires live and what they’re worth. Jeff Bezos, Amazon supremo, tallies a staggering $131 billion dollars. That’s $131,000,000,000 written properly. In our own land, we haven’t that many sqillionaires, but 14,367 of our neighbours are worth more than $30 million in assets. Of 240,575 Americans, the same can be said. You can see the figures here. These people may have worked hard for their money or may be the fortunate heir of someone else who did. Doubtless, many support charitable causes and employ the labour of the less well-off, allowing their money to trickle down to the little guys. Yet hoarding wealth is what they do. Having holiday homes and villas abroad is lovely, but the millionaire can only occupy one bed at a time. He might own a fleet of luxury cars, but he only has one backside with which to get behind the wheel. He may have the finest personal chef and he may eat off the most exquisite crockery, but his stomach is no bigger and his bowel’s discharge no sweeter.

The Biblical writer James terrifyingly describes the fate of rich unbelievers, whose inclination to hoard he grimly notes:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. (5:1-3)

Buying too much bread is irritating for other customers. Buying too much toilet paper is weird and irritating. Let’s not get all het up just because ordinary folk, relatively poor people, are stocking up their pantries. The wealthy have been amassing and accumulating for years, though little good it will do them.

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

-Matthew 6:19-20