LANSING, Mich. – LCC economics professor Jim Luke has seen his typical blog post traffic go from a normal read of 600-1000 people to over 1700 a few weeks ago for his post “Toilet Paper in a Pandemic.”
Luke has been quoted by more than 150 news outlets since a journalist being interviewed on MSNBC mentioned his blog post that examines the economics of toilet paper. Luke once worked in the paper industry as the head of planning for a company that sold a number of paper products, and a lot of toilet paper. He became increasingly frustrated that people were concluding the nation’s toilet paper shortage since the onset of COVID-19 was solely related to people hoarding the new paper gold. He understood from his time spent in the industry that it was much more to it; it was economics -- supply chains and demand.
The light-hearted story has produced quotes from Luke on ABC News, NBC News, the Associated Press, several NPR stations, The New Yorker, USA Today, Fox Business, Voice of America, and others. He has since been dubbed as a “noted toilet paper economist” and a “loo roll expert” by a professor friend in the UK.
He has been interviewed by FOX News radio which did a nearly 25-minute interview which caused Luke to joke, “That is an eternity in radio.” FOX News went on to ask him other questions about the economy’s prospects, “I hadn’t expected that,” Luke quipped. “Talk about having to think fast on your feet.” Other interviews have followed and, he is still being quoted as recent as this morning.
When asked how he feels about his 15 minutes of fame, Luke said, “As my career approaches its later stages, I can be smug in the knowledge that literally millions of people have heard my name and they associate it with toilet paper.”
Luke has taught economics at LCC since 2002.