Three Flushes for American Capitalism!

In praise of privately operated bathrooms that serve the public.

The greatest city in the world - New York, New York - is home to 8 million souls, a magnet for 52 million tourists a year, and legendary for the grossest public toilets this side of a Turkish prison. That makes sense, since nobody really owns public toilets, leading to the ultimate tragedy of the commons.

There's a reason the Big Apple shopping blog Racked recently recommended a list of the 16 best in store bathrooms for New Yorkers on the go. Can you imagine a similar list of johns maintained by Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s tidy team?

Getting top marks is the restroom at the upscale accessory store Henri Bendel, where each stall is the size of an Upper West Side studio apartment.

The tastefully decorated facility at the half-coffee shop, half-clothing store Saturday's Surf has beautifully designed wooden accents.

Bergdorf Goodman offers bathroom-goers a delightful combination of fancy beauty products, mood lighting, and fresh-cut flowers.

So forget Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square. What makes New York great are all those private spaces that businessmen leave open for the public to trample, whether that means misusing the books at Barnes and Noble, surfing the internet at the Apple Store, or working all day at a Brooklyn coffee shop while nursing a single $2 cup of joe.

More important: It’s the city’s bookstores, coffee shops, boutiques, and other businesses that welcome the full-bladdered with open stalls and scrubbed toilets.

So let’s give three flushes for American capitalism! If it weren't for all these great private bathrooms you can just walk in and use, we'd all be carrying around our own toilet paper rolls, hand soap, and wax-paper rim covers.

Hosted by Kennedy. Written by Jim Epstein and Nick Gillespie, and shot and edited by Epstein.

Approximately 2 minutes.

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    nobody really owns public toilets

    But- but- but- the PUBLIC owns them! It's democracy in action.

  • OldMexican||

    But- but- but- the PUBLIC owns them! It's democracy in action.

    And we have the ammonia stains to prove it!

  • Libertarius||

    I just wish Reason and libertarians et al would lose the toilet philosophy of Jeramy Bentham, utilitarianism is merely another flavor of altruism and collectivism. That's why Bentham ended his life as a socialist--he was finally being consistent.

  • Brandon||

    What the hell are you talking about?

  • An0nB0t||

    Everyone schoolchild knows that Abraham Lincoln preserved the union, Jeremy Bentham was a socialist, and Moses was a Christian.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    If it weren't for all these great private bathrooms you can just walk in and use, we'd all be carrying around our own toilet paper rolls, hand soap, and wax-paper rim covers.

    adult diapers

  • Dweebston||

    Given your surname this seems appropriate.

  • XTSee||

    This comment thread will not be complete without a token appearance by the Mulatto.

  • OldMexican||

    I love you, Kennedy!

    By the way, to our resident Statist, Tony: Please, remind us why Public is better than Private! Please, oh, please! Make the case, I beg you! I DARE you, even!


  • Pro Libertate||

    Nick, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Why don't you just ask him if he likes Gladiator movies. NTTAWWT

  • Pro Libertate||

    You ever seen a grown man naked?

  • Tim||

    Did Kennedy use any of those bathrooms she reviewed? Because there should be a disclaimer about a possible conflict of interest.

  • Brandybuck||

    Back when I was a kid, STDs were known as VDs, and some people who caught a case of VD claimed "I got it from a public toilet!" In the vast majority of cases this was true, but I sometimes wonder about the public stalls in Manhattan...

    p.s. To be fair Kennedy, I've seen private toilets at gas stations that would make New York public urinals look like freshly washed fine china.

  • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater||

    Probably not a Buc-ees truck stop then...

  • SugarFree||

    I honestly didn't know that NYC even had public bathrooms. I mean, I've seen them in a few places, but I thought they weren't any actual facilities in them and they were just sites for To Catch A Predator stings.

  • Rhywun||

    The only ones I know of are Bryant Park (pretty clean, actually), and a new one at Times Sq subway station (supposedly clean but nothing short of an emergency would get me in that one).

  • Tim||

    To catch a Senator?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    No reference to Earl Butz?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    One of the things people have been telling me about my upcoming trip to Europe is to be prepared to pay for toilet access.

  • Sevo||

    In France, (6-8 years ago) the gas stations didn't charge up-front, but there's an attendant who actually does clean the place and there's a tip jar.


    I pass through Grand Central Terminal every day now... and as always, the place is treated as 50% tourist-attraction by out of towners, with the other 50% just trying to get from point A-B with the least suffering.

    Anyway, its a little-known detail that GCT has no bathrooms on the main floor.... which people find appalling for such a busy public institution. I was recently asked by some british tourists where they could find the loo.... and I started laughing, thinking of the toilets on the lower level. I was like, "OMG, look... go to a starbucks. The bathrooms downstairs...? You dont want to go there. There's a REASON no one knows where they are. Even homeless people find them disgusting. Trust me.... I'm doing you a favor..."

    I felt a little embarrassed realizing that NYC really is a disaster of place if you need to take a leak. Maybe its why i can hold it so long.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    But, none of the Starbucks around GCT has a bathroom! If your desperate (for number one; I'd buy a diaper rather than try it for number two), it'll do.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Although the funny part is that it is right in the middle of the food court.


    no one uses it except for the bums. you will die of a strange disease pissing in GCT, I promise you. god help you.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Nah. Just stand a few feet back from the urinal.

  • ||

    I'll just leave this here

  • MaximumBob||

    Sheesh. At least the Fleshlight site includes an instructional video.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'm afraid to click on the Tour link.

  • Dweebston||

    female urination device (sometimes called a FUD)

  • ||

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't NYC require private businesses to allow the public to use their toilets free of charge by law?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    No. Plenty of places post "Restrooms are for customers only".

  • Bill Dalasio||

    My favorite NYC toilet is on the ground floor of the Princeton Club. It's got a stock of combs in Barbicide and Vitalis and features an (ancient) automated shoe polisher.

  • Jayburd||

    Kennedy, it's called an 'ass gasket'.

  • ||

    I'm reminded of a scene in the first episode of Portlandia. Steve Buscemi.

  • Neville3||

    my roomate's step-sister makes $60/hour on the computer. She has been laid off for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $21308 just working on the computer for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more

  • Perry5||

    my best friend's mother-in-law makes $61 every hour on the laptop. She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her payment was $17107 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this web site http://www.FLY38.COM

  • Peyton32||

    Charlie. I see what you mean... Benjamin`s bl0g is impressive... last saturday I bought a great new GMC since getting a check for $4588 this-last/month and-just over, ten k this past month. it's definitly the easiest work Ive ever done. I started this four months/ago and immediately began to earn at least $74, per-hr. I follow the details on this straightforward website,, http://www.FLY38.COM

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