Three Flushes for American Capitalism!

In praise of privately operated bathrooms that serve the public.


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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.

New York is legendary for the grossest public toilets this side of a Turkish prison

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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