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Lizardmen need tampons too

Pollsters talk about “the lizardman constant”. It was given that name in this “Slate Star Codex” post by Scott Alexander:

So first we get the people who think “Wait, was 1 the one for if I did believe in lizardmen, or if I didn’t? I’ll just press 1 and move on to the next question.”

Then we get the people who are like “I never heard it before, but if this nice pollster thinks it’s true, I might as well go along with them.”

Then we get the people who are all “F#&k you, polling company, I don’t want people calling me when I’m at dinner. You screw with me, I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell you I believe lizard people are running the planet.”

Alexander put the lizardman constant at about 4%. Keep that figure in your mind.

A month ago, the polling company YouGov did a survey on “period poverty” (Tabs here.) The survey found that:

Period poverty looks likely to increase as the cost of living crisis bites

6% who currently have periods have been unable to afford period products in the last 12 months

13% are likely to be unable to afford period products in the next 12 months

The final line really ought to refer to “13% think they are likely”. The percentage of British wom… of British people who currently have periods who claim they have actually experienced being unable to afford period products is 6%. That’s the Lizardmen plus two percent.

Why so small? Because, though it is a real problem in the Third World, in developed countries period poverty no longer exists except in the minds of earnest sixth formers, publicity-hungry politicians and progressives seeking a government sinecure. The problem was solved years ago. As I said in a post from 2017 called “The Bleeding Obvious”, capitalism solved it. At Boots, tampons cost 4p each. Aldi’s tampons cost 4p each. Tesco’s tampons have been hard hit by inflation; at the time of the previous post they used to cost 4p each but now it’s 5p. As you can see if you click the links, tampons are usually sold in boxes of 20 to 24. I no longer have periods, but when I did, I used a little under one box per period. I usually picked up tampons in Tescos at £1 a packet. At nights I sometimes used sanitary towels instead or as well. 70p for ten. Some women might require more; so double that, no, triple it – you are still only looking at just over £5 per month.

So, market competition has developed period products that are far more hygienic, comfortable and discreet than the bloody rags of yesteryear, has evolved a distribution network to put them in every village shop, and has carried the price down almost to nothing. But not quite all the way, the evil bastards: four pence per tampon is not zero. That last 4p is an opportunity for some. Like a mediocre footballer who pushes forward to nudge the ball last and hence get the glory for a goal that others set up, the State can still swoop in at the last moment and get applauded for making them FREE.

In theory, there ought to be no need for this. In the UK, Universal Credit or other welfare payments ought to be enough, but sometimes the welfare system fails, and even if a woman’s problems are partly self-caused by drink or drugs or poor budgeting, I think most people would say, for pity’s sake, just help her anyway.

How is that best done?

The Scottish government’s form of help was this: (1) Pass a law called the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act. The procedure for passing a bill in the Scottish Parliament is described here. I have no idea what it all costs, but no doubt it was less than most bills because no MSP was brave enough to oppose it. (2) Appoint a Period Dignity Regional Lead Officer (salary of £33,153 – £36,126 per annum) for each Scottish region, and a bunch of lesser Period Dignity Regional Officers to serve under the Lead ones. The salary and other employment costs of these new local government posts would depend on how many of these regions there are. I hope a region is more than just one Local Authority, because Scotland has 32 of those. (3) Just for fun, appoint a bloke as your first ever Period Dignity Regional Lead Officer, then scrap the role because of the controversy, and wait ’til he sues for sex discrimination. The costs of that argy-bargy remain to be seen, but the services of barristers, sorry, advocates since it’s Scotland, do not come cheap. (4) After the Members of the Scottish Parliament, assorted Parliamentary researchers and support staff, recruitment consultants, HR managers, Period Dignity Regional Lead Officers, Period Dignity Officers and the lawyers have all had their cut, use whatever is left over to buy some tampons to give away. Good thing tampons are cheap.

19 comments to Lizardmen need tampons too

  • Earnest Canuck

    Argh it’s all so punishingly stupid. It’s like the food activists across the Western world who worry that the poor of Melbourne and Toronto are going hungry, suffering from malnutrition, constantly tottering on the edge of scurvy… you wonder if those rabbiting on about “food deserts” and “food insecurity” have ever actually looked at persons of low income, who in our societies tend toward the spherical. And of course, virtually every solution proposed for this non-existent problem would tend to actually make food more expensive, and harder to come by. It says a lot about modern “activists” (cursed word!) that, in organizing to solve problems that aren’t real, they often bring said trouble into actual being. I mean, how will the Scots pay for all this absorbent infrastructure? By taxing tampons & pads, one suspects. Thus the heavy flow of idiocy rolls on…

  • bobby b

    As per Alexander, anyone wishing to grow government would have responded to that poll with “I absolutely cannot afford my period products!” Self reporting. Bah.

    (As an aside, when I see “period products”, all I can picture are costumes sold to Renaissance Festival workers.)

  • Fraser Orr

    @Earnest I think food deserts are a very real thing in major cities. Often the cause of the spherical shape you refer to is more the easy access to very low quality food. The problem is that the food deserts are not caused by evil capitalism, they are caused by government regulation making it hard for entrepreneurs in these areas to set up unless they can meet the standards expected in Martha’s Vineyard, and also, and this is a HUGELY burgeoning problem recently rampant crime which makes it either impossible or extremely costly (paying for extra security and offsetting theft[*]) to do so. If the government want to solve the problem of food deserts the can do so by firstly leaving legitimate businesses alone and secondly vigorously enforcing the law.

    People who live in these hellholes in our midst don’t so much need a paycheck from the government (though charity assistance is often needed) what they do need is effective enforcement of the law, a reduction in the number of busybodies, and, perhaps especially, fixing the disgraceful public school systems offered their kids.

    Having said that, from this moment hence whenever someone portrays capitalism as Mr. Monopoly sitting on his bags of money I’m always going to counter with the example of how free markets fixed the tampon problem as Natalie explains in her OP.

    [*] I used to manage IT systems in a huge retail company. In retail the word they use for the ongoing level of theft is “shrinkage” as if it is a natural phenomenon rather than thieves choosing to steal stuff. It is also an undeniable, though unspoken, fact that the level of shrinkage is inversely proportional to the salubriousness of the neighborhood in which the store is located. Of course whenever someone said “shrinkage” to me I always through of George Costanza from Seinfeld.

  • Steven R

    Shrinkage isn’t just theft. It is anything that results in a product being unable to be sold. Theft, outdated food, broken or missing parts, goods damaged in the store. It is mainly theft, but there can be any number of reasons something ends up on a shrinkage report. (As a side note: I would rather have starvation be my doom than work in retail ever again.)

    The other reason someone is in a “food desert” is geography. I think it’s officially an area where a population has to travel more than two miles to get to a grocery store. Technically I live in one because I live in a rural area and need to drive over two miles to get to my nearest grocery store. The thing is, no one is compelled to stay in a food desert. For urban types without a car, there is always the bus, taxis, subways or trams, bumming a ride, deliveries, so on and so forth. For rural dwellers it’s a little more tricky considering public transportation simply doesn’t exist outside of towns, but no one is making me stay here. In any event we can move or find a way to drive a few miles to get French Toast fixins’ as needed. But no one cares about rural types because we aren’t likely to vote the correct way.

    It’s just another tactic the media and politicians use to make those unfortunate urban dwellers’ lives seem that much worse than they are. Heaven forfend someone have to use a little effort to get food. It’s just easier to chalk it up to the evils of Capitalism and good old fashioned racism than it is to point the finger, as Fraser pointed out, at politicians and feral youths.

  • Homer Disappearing GIF

    I’m just gonna leave this here and then quietly sidle away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxtNUgmWVOM

  • Steven R

    That video make me long for the day when we simply institutionalized people like that. I mean, to each his own, but no. Just, no.

    “You know, we’re living in a society! We’re supposed to act in a civilized way!”
    -George Costanza

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    It wouldn’t have been for me, but if it suits her, fine. I have sometimes wondered what women in societies where little or no clothing was/is worn did or do during their period, and I guess that video gives a hint as to how they manage it.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Steven R
    Shrinkage isn’t just theft.

    You are right of course, I have tried hard to blank out my experience in retail — knowing how that sausage is made would horrify a lot of people. The process of retailing is so expensive I think it is almost exploitational that amazon doesn’t charge half the typical retail price.

    The other reason someone is in a “food desert” is geography.

    I’m not sure that is entirely right. These food deserts occur in heavily populated areas that would normally generate more than enough business for stores. It is the lawlessness, the theft and other such things that are the cause of the problems. These places also often have terrible public transport, and I really don’t see grandma hoping on her bike to ride ten miles to buy her groceries.

    That video make me long for the day when we simply institutionalized people like that. I mean, to each his own, but no. Just, no.

    I can’t imagine why. I’ve personally never had a period, but I thought what she said was really pretty interesting. I mean the title gives you the quivers, but her argument seemed perfectly reasonable to me (again, speaking as someone with literally no first hand experience.)

  • bobby b

    Not my circus, not my monkeys, but . . . .

    – Can a vegetarian diet really effect the chemical balance or the volume of a period?

    – Are we really speaking of a sustainable process when the first recommendations are, work from home, stay at home, wear dark clothing, shower lots?

    This vid reminded me of the old Michael Crichton writings about people romanticizing the plight of very poor villagers having a simplified life. Sure, they died in their teens, but they were PURE! They were UNSULLIED by modern evils!

  • bobby b

    We now have food deserts in parts of Minneapolis that were not characterized that way a few years ago. Same number of stores, spread out evenly, but . . .

    Used to be, you could hop on frequent public transit and get to a food source easily.

    Frequent and common crime now makes that problematic. People are losing mobility due to safety reasons.

    And so we’re back to FO’s idea that enforcing laws would go a long way towards making poor lives better. “We’re going to stop The Man from oppressing you” usually means we’re going to consign you to a post-apocalyptic hell. Poor people need the protection of laws more than I do.

  • Steven R

    I can admit when I am wrong.

    Per the USDA website:

    ?Low-income: a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater, or a median family income at or below 80 percent of the statewide or metropolitan area median family income;
    Low-access: at least 500 persons and/or at least 33 percent of the population lives more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (10 miles, in the case of rural census tracts).”

    and

    “In rural areas, low-income tracts with a significant number or share of residents more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store are food deserts. Food desert tracts in southwestern South Dakota include sections of the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations.”

    https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2011/december/data-feature-mapping-food-deserts-in-the-us/

    SO low income AND 10mi in rural areas, 1 mile in urban.

  • Steven R

    Natalie wrote: “It wouldn’t have been for me, but if it suits her, fine. I have sometimes wondered what women in societies where little or no clothing was/is worn did or do during their period, and I guess that video gives a hint as to how they manage it.”

    In the Americas, pelts were used as feminine underwear as necessary and were used and washed. They also were used as diapers for babies and toddlers. When whites shows up with cloth and traded with the Indians, they adopted the European method of using cloth cut into strips and tied to women.

  • Lee Moore

    Like a mediocre footballer who pushes forward to nudge the ball last and hence get the glory for a goal that others set up, the State can still swoop in at the last moment and get applauded for making them FREE.

    Actually, mediocre footballers seldom advance as far as the penalty box and so hardly ever score any goals. Instead what they mostly do when the ball arrives at their feet is to carefully pass it backwards to a teammate even further away from the enemy goal. This is a supersafe manoevre because the other side is set up to impede passes which are an actual threat – ie towards their goal.

    The Napoleon of this style of football was a chap called David Batty who mysteriously got selected for England, and had a 100% successful pass completion rate – none of them forwards. The overall effect is to slow the attack on the enemy’s goal to a crawl – the backpasser’s teammates not only have to do their own thing to get the ball forward, but also have to make good the negative contribution of the Battystas.

    Those who perceive a resemblance to the role of government have the telescope to their seeing eye.

  • Poor people need the protection of laws more than I do. (bobby b, September 15, 2022 at 10:15 pm)

    This is not merely true. It is a fundamental fact about the whole PC project (and much discussed by Thomas Sowell and others). Unequal law-enforcement is one of the most basic and effective forms of prejudice. The very rich can buy their own protection. The rich can buy some, and can ride out some effects of crime – if someone steals or vandalises my car, I can just get in my other car, whereas if I am poor and working at my first job (that needs a car) then the theft may also return me to the ranks of the unemployed. Encouraging crime is an effective way for the left to expand the government-handout-depending class.

    We now have food deserts in parts of Minneapolis that were not characterized that way a few years ago.

    BLM have some surprising achievements to their credit – surprising to us, that is, if one thinks back to what seemed normal three years ago, though perhaps less so in the light of history.

  • In the Americas, pelts were used as feminine underwear as necessary and were used and washed. They also were used as diapers for babies and toddlers. (Steven R, September 15, 2022 at 10:29 pm)

    In the Canadian north, there grows a moss (whose name I forget) that, when dried, is absorbent. Eskimo mothers use a bundle of it in the bottom of the papoose as the equivalent of a nappy. I expect it is also used as the equivalent of a tampon.

  • Paul Marks

    There seems to be assumption that people are incapable of doing anything for themselves – or for other people. That the state must be “all in all” as Edmund Burke’s son said of France (both the Ancient Regime – and, even more, Revolutionary France) controlling everything and everyone.

    Even tampons – “the state must provide” is the default assumption, as it is assumed that people are incapable of either of helping themselves or helping other people.

    Essentially the modern view is “The State Is God” – and that view is madness, total insanity.

  • Steven R

    I don’t think the default is “the State is God” so much as “why should I make any effort to provide for myself when someone else can do it for me?” Be it the state, some big corporation, a charity, a church, a neighbor, a whole lot of people out there are just standing around with their hand out and don’t care who fills it so long as they don’t need to actually work. It’s just laziness more than anything.

    That said, there are a whole lot of folks who will used that perceived helplessness to push for more government programs, and when those are in place, more government expansion, but those people won’t let any crisis go to waste.

  • Tim Worstall

    As ever, the good fight needs to be fought. Even when we don’t win it. From 2017:

    https://capx.co/its-madness-for-government-to-hand-out-tampons/

  • Today’s instapundit has a link to a City Journal article (Police By Another Name: Demand for private security is booming in Minneapolis) that is relevant to bobby b’s remark (September 15, 2022 at 10:15 pm)

    Poor people need the protection of laws more than I do.

    (See also my comment above – Niall Kilmartin @ September 16, 2022 at 7:54 am.) Guess who can’t afford private security. If you guessed ‘the poor’, go to the head of the class – along with everyone else except the woke.

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