Nothing brings economic chaos to light better than toilet paper. That innocuous tissue we are all so familiar with is the economic barometer that lets us know how we are doing. During times of economic hardship everyday hard working individuals look for ways to cut back on extravagant expenditures. As economic pressures bear down on families, the Charmin tissue is the first to go.

There is no doubt that taxpayers are going through difficult economic times Because of the economy, families and businesses are looking for ways to save in order to weather the economic storm. No frills and bare essentials are the order of the day. Big and small businesses alike look for ways to cut costs and lower overhead in order to survive for another day. Families cut back on quality of life in order to make it. Everything in their control is reduced or done without, except for the one and only item beyond all of our controls – taxes.

The tax, the dreaded beast raises its head intent on consuming our meager resources for the good of the community, or so they say. At a time when we are all looking for ways to conserve, our public entities continue on, oblivious to the plight of the community. Our two major Universities showcase this better than any analysis or reports could ever do.

During a recent visit to a campus of the El Paso Community College, a visit to the public facilities illustrated the plight of those who pay taxes. The Charmin-style toilet paper, oh so soft against the tush was a new feeling long forgotten. As the moment of softness passed over, the realization of long forgotten comforts was painfully brought back to the conscious level of the realization that economic plight is only suffered by those who pay taxes. This sudden feeling of hopelessness was further reinforced by the hot water being discharged by the public faucet paid for by the hard work of the taxpayer.

Two days later, at the University of Texas at El Paso campus, the need to visit the facilities necessitated an examination of the toilet paper there. As the industrial strength, hard to pull apart paper was dispensed; memories of sandpaper were clearly in the forefront of consciousness. As the cold water flowed through shivering hands, the clarity of the moment was forever galvanized in the realization that hard-working students were paying for this facility.

Further examination of the toilet paper disparity showcases the difference between public and private enterprise. Public enterprises support their habits on the back of the taxpayer who depends on the private industry to survive. Public entities have no need to consciously select industrial strength over Charmin soft when purchasing supplies. Public entities have no need to implement cost saving measures or declare hiring freezes, in fact, public entities hire and pay as if they had all the money in the world. That is because they do have all the monies they could ever need in the form of the taxpayer.

No matter how dire the situation, the taxpayer is always the one to ante-up for the comfort of the public body. Money is just a sum that can be raised by one or two percent at the whim of an official who needs more comfort. The money tree can always be shaken by the public entity and when no more comes out, the public entity just issues certificates of obligations that will one day be paid back by the same money tree that is fruitless today. When the money tree fails to yield future comfort, the public entity just reaches out by use of the legal tools at its disposal and takes what it wants in the form of tax sales and tax levies. Eventually the money tree pays or it withers away only to be replaced by another taxpayer ready to partake in the comfort of public toilet paper.

The next time toilet paper comes to mind, remember that the oh so soft one is found in the comfort of the public facility and that sandpaper hard one is funded by hard-working students. UTEP continues to provide the best service possible even with a hiring freeze in place while EPCC continues to depend on the taxpayer to provide 2-ply, Charmin-soft tissue to soften the blow to the taxpayer. Maybe next time, a trip to the city building might reveal a 3-ply, lightly scented, super-soft tissue… oh that’s right, the public can’t partake of the mayor’s own personal stock!

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...