Unconventional Economic Stimuli for Unconventional Times

Quite a while back I suggested three ways to stimulate the economy without government involvement. In light of what will probably be a sharp, deep recession, let me offer some ideas for how people can help. Here are some unconventional economic stimuli for unconventional times.

Disposal Instructions Unconventional Economic Stimuli forPlumbing attire 2020 Unconventional Times

Disposal Instructions (click for larger image)

Apparently the demand for plumbers’ services has gone through the roof. People are being mocked for flushing cloth sanitizer and other moist towelettes down their toilets. There are good reasons the labels say in large letters “Do not flush in toilet.” They don’t dissolve. They clog the pipes. Leading to more spending on plumbers, one group that seems to be doing OK (at least in the household market).

Yes, people from Lubbock, Texas to Boise, Idaho are wrecking their plumbing. From Lubbock:[1]

Joe Rushing, owner of Joe Rushing Plumbers, said things like feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, disinfecting wipes, and toilet bowl cleaners should not be flushed down the toilet.

“You start flushing these things and they start going out to the line, you can actually stop the main and if the main stops up, sewers can start going into the neighbor’s houses and people around you,” he said. “If you stop up just your line in the yard, if you have any leaks under the toilets or any way for the sewer to come in the house, now we’re finding out that the coronavirus is living in the sewer and we don’t need any of the sewer water in your house.”

Even worse, apparently there is some possibility of the virus spreading through sewer systems. Plumbers are wearing protective clothing (although likely not the full hazmat suit).

Plumbing attire 2020 Unconventional Economic Stimuli forPlumbing attire 2020 Unconventional Times

Plumbing attire 2020

Here’s the situation in Boise:[2]

During the coronavirus pandemic, toilet paper has quickly become a grocery item in high demand. Most supermarkets are in short supply or sold out.

“I’m a little baffled by it myself,” said Bob Haycock, owner of Apple Plumbing. “This disease, as far as I know, doesn’t cause us to go to the bathroom any more frequently.”

Haycock has been in the plumbing business for a long time. He said he understands that during this unprecedented time people might have to wipe with something other than toilet paper.

However, Haycock says toilet paper is the only material meant to be flushed.

“Everything else is taking a risk on causing a backup in your sewer line or even damaging the city sewer system,” Haycock said.

Materials like paper towels, tissues, and baby wipes, should never go down the toilet he explained.

OK, the plumbers are seeing increased demand. Are there other forms of stimulus?

qbb logo Unconventional Economic Stimuli for Unconventional TimesCalifornia is on lockdown. Restaurants, bars, and winery tasting rooms are closed to on-premises visitors. But they have gotten creative. Quality Bourbon and Barbecue in Mountain View is offering 50 percent off phone orders picked up at the establishment. Palo Alto Online offers a list of restaurants in the Bay Area offering pickup, delivery, or both.  Their list is updated frequently. Our local wine shop Artisan Wine Depot offers online ordering and pickup at their front door. They have locations in Mountain View and Los Gatos.

Many wineries are engaged in creative marketing. Sean Minor Wines is offering free shipping on orders of one case or more.  Belden Barns is sponsoring a series of virtual wine tastings. While it’s too late to order their eleven bottle special that includes each of the wines being tasted, they will ship you a mixed case. The first tasting is March 29 so you better get moving. (This event is not on the winery’s website.  But we’ve written about it elsewhere.)

During these difficult times those of us fortunate enough to not be affected very much have a duty to the country: spend. Buy restaurant gift cards. Order wine from your favorite wineries. (According to one expert, COVID-19 does not survive very well on cardboard.) So far we have been lucky. And we’re doing our part.

  1. Ronald Clark (2020). “Lubbock plumbers warn, be careful what you flush.” MSN.COM. Available at https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/lubbock-plumbers-warn-be-careful-what-you-flush/ar-BB11vXEc. Accessed March 22, 2020.
  2. Gretchen Parsons (March 17, 2020). “Plumbers: If you have to use an alternative to toilet paper, don’t flush it down the toilet.” KTVB. Available at https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/local/plumbers-if-you-have-to-use-an-alternative-to-toilet-paper-dont-flush-it-down-the-toilet/277-73cd4a85-d6e1-4e86-aae0-77e679eaf85c. Accessed March 22, 2020.


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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.