There's a tampon shortage. Politicians have thoughts.

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

If you had a tampon shortage on your Bingo card, go collect your winnings. Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Meat, Big Tampon? Apparently so, if we listen to some politicians. Who knew that in 2022 America would be experiencing some Third World kind of shortages?

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A shortage of feminine hygiene products may only affect a certain portion of the general population but it’s a big deal to those consumers. We can all remember scrambling for toilet paper during the beginning of the pandemic and since then the supply chain has never really gotten back to normal for access to lots of products. On any given day, consumers have to make concessions on purchases. Parents are still worrying about finding enough formula to feed their babies. Joe Biden may not be personally responsible for the state of the supply chain but his policies haven’t helped anything.

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is one of ten senators on the most vulnerable list facing re-election. She weighed in on the tampon shortage with a familiar tune. It must be due to price gouging. And she seems to accuse companies of deliberately not producing enough products. Hassan released a press release title “Following Reports of Tampon Shortage, Senator Hassan Calls on Major Tampon Producers to Increase Supply.” She called it a part of her “work to hold corporations accountable for unfair price increases and address shortages.” She even sounds as though she is about to accuse the manufacturers of a lack of urgency due to misogyny.

“Access to menstrual products should be treated like every other essential good. At the beginning of the pandemic, price gouging of essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer was rightly criticized as an exploitation of an emergency for financial gain. Menstrual products should receive that same consideration,” Hassan wrote in a letter to the CEOs of Procter & Gamble, Edgewell Personal Care, Kimberly-Clark, and Johnson & Johnson.

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Hassan seems to go to price gouging as a default excuse for shortages or rising prices, whether or not there is evidence of such a conclusion. She did it with Biden’s oil crisis in April and blamed Big Oil for price gouging. Her attempt to blame price gouging in this case also seems to be off-base. The true causes of shortages appear to be supply chain problems and Bidenflation. Tampons are just another addition to the long list of items affected. COVID plays a role here to since it drove up demand for plastic and cotton, both key components in feminine hygiene products.

And, like much of the shortages seen over the past couple of years, COVID-related supply chain issues are having an impact as well. Shipping costs to move material and products have also gone up as diesel fuel prices continue to climb. Add to that the ongoing labor shortage many companies are experiencing.

Then there is the impact of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, constraining the normal supply of fertilizer used to grow cotton, further exacerbating supply issues. The price of raw cotton is up more than 70 percent.

The supply chain interruptions are a part of the perfect storm brought about first by the pandemic and plant closures and labor shortages, then add to all that the shipping industry’s back-ups and even the shortage of fertilizer with Putin’s war in Ukraine and all sorts of products get caught up in the whirlwind. Hassan simply telling manufacturers to make more product, though, and scolding them to avoid price gouging just sounds like a simplistic exercise. She’s just “doing something”, writing a letter and press release, she’s not actually coming up with any kind of workable solution. She’s a politician. She wants women voters to think she’s doing something for them.

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As the demand went up more than 7 percent, Procter and Gamble started running its Maine plant 24/7 to try and keep up. The industry says it is looking for ways to increase production.

“While the tampon shortage is part of a larger supply chain issue, price-gouging essential products is an unacceptable response,” Hassan said — without providing any effort of gouging.

“We understand it is frustrating for consumers when they can’t find what they need,” a P&G spokesperson told CNN. “We can assure you this is a temporary situation.”

Meanwhile, another politician weighed in with her opinion. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) blames the tampon shortage on trans men. She says men are buying tampons which is odd, given she’s not a supporter of the trans community and anyone using a tampon is a biological woman, not a man. MTG is upset that tampons are available in men’s restrooms.

‘There’s now a shortage of tampons, and that’s probably because men are buying tampons,’ Greene said during a discussion about the transgender community on the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network.

‘They put tampons in men’s bathrooms. So this is the war on women.’

Her reason for the shortage is as wacky as Hassan’s. Hassan gave manufacturers a deadline of June 17 to come up with a solution. If they are working 24/7 now, what does she expect them to do?

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John Stossel 12:00 AM | April 24, 2024
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