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This month, Oral-B will release its new $5 manual toothbrush, breaking all previous price barriers by more than $1. Gillette (Oral-B’s parent company) contemplated selling the toothbrush for $4, but market research proved that consumers were willing to pay more for “movement inside their mouths similar to the multiple cleaning actions of an automatic car wash.”

Yet, according to American Dental Association consumer adviser Dr. Richard Price, all toothbrushes do the same job if used properly. “Bottom line, it’s not the brush,” says Price. “It’s the brusher that makes the difference.” Price says consumers have been similarly duped by ineffectual toothpaste “improvements,” such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (which mostly just foams, says Price).

Unlike previous generations, baby boomers can expect to keep their teeth for a lifetime. But since the price of the best care maxes out with a 75-cent brush and a $1.50 tube of fluoride toothpaste, Americans are spending millions annually to enhance the appearance of their dental care.

Hence the No-Mess, No-Waste Toothpaste Dispenser. This Italian, solid-brass accessory will squeeze, flatten, and roll your toothpaste tube for you — all for a mere $75. Despite its claims, the dispenser is both messy and wasteful. Starting a tube requires wasting the first few inches of paste, and the brass needs periodic polishing and buffing. Daniel Lally, PR director for the dispenser’s retailer, admits, “It’s a luxury, yes, but…[it] reminds you why you work so hard in the first place.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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