It first came to light in August, 1974, just prior to Nixon’s resignation from Office. A young reporter by the name of Dan Druthers asked the President: “Have you considered the exponential factor of time wasted in consumer affairs concerning crushed toilet paper rolls during transport and delivery? What has your Administration done about it? The American People demand an answer!” The White House Press Corps was aghast. No other journalist had had the temerity to heretofore question the Presidency with such forcefulness. The President, of course, was stumped, and shot back, “Mr. Druthers, what do you think you are running for?” To which Mr. Druthers shot equally back, “Well, I’m not sure. What are you running from, Mr. President?”
The rest is history, as they say. From there, that journalist of slight anonymity and notoriety went on to become the anchor of Prime Time T.V.; the President resigned (what many people fail to understand is that Watergate had little to do with moral turpitude, and much to do with messy toiletry); the 18-minute gap in the secret White House Tapes, people suspected, had to do with deleted expletives concerning Toiletgate; and as for the greater issue of crushed toilet paper rolls — well, it took a few more years hence before the political fallout would take its toll.
First, there were whispers of grumblings, of esoteric nuances which could only be fully understood in Senate closed door hearings where titular heads of states whispered in royal functions. How many people spend time in straightening out a roll of toilet paper, such that it rolls smoothly on a roller? If, as a conservative estimate, 30 seconds are spent for each crushed roll of toilet paper, multiplied by the total number of people inhabiting the United States, how much of an economic impact would that have on an annual basis? How much time would be saved if such crushing of toiletries could be prevented, reverberated a thousandfold — nay, ten thousand fold — by mere and simple preventative measures?
The question itself failed to take hold upon the American imagination, until some years later, at a Town Hall Meeting, a woman asked a Congressional Candidate a similar query, in a rather accusatory tone of voice: “Do you not care at all?” That got the goat of the candidate, as they say in proverbial parlance. There were subsequent cries for immediate passage of legislation. Republicans wanted a budgetary offset for any monies expended for the creation of a new agency, the Federal Consumer Product Compliance Directorate (FCPCD). Some questioned the need for the new agency, and whether it couldn’t just be handled by the EPA; but such queries were quickly quelled when the Senate Majority Leader declared: “The issue itself is too important to ignore.”
In the end, the FCPCD was created by Executive Order. Some years later, because of the very importance attached to such preventative measures — “experts” referred to the greater impact upon global warming, and some at the NSC declared that it was a matter of “national security” — the FCPCD was elevated to a Cabinet Level Department post haste, in order to ensure that the President was daily informed as to the importance of the issue and so the American People would not be ignored. The staff at the FCPCD grew from 2 in 1984 (comprised of the Executive Director and the secretary), to over 5,000 today and currently growing (you know, inspectors, analysts, policy experts, etc.).
Meanwhile, those Federal and Postal workers who had filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, continue to wait for their Federal Disability Retirement applications to be decided upon. The fact that OPM is understaffed and overworked has not been brought to light, yet. Of course, OPM does not have the ear of the President, and the issue was never queried by the likes of a crack reporter back in the days when reporting was actually occurring.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire