OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The newest conspiracy theory turned reality – Supply chain shortages. I actually posted a picture on social media of cargo ships in holding patters around the world, but it, like nearly everything else I post these days, was banned and caused me to receive a warning about misinformation. It was merely a photo taken from a news source, mind you, no conjecture at all on why the back log was happening. Though, I’m old enough to remember when you could make conjecture, have an opinion, or share your thoughts without inspiring a social media ban and an FBI investigation…One day you’re at a PTA meeting organizing a bake sale for new library books, and the next thing you know you’re labeled a domestic terrorist because you spoke at a school board meeting. Life sure comes at you fast!
Welp. Now that Yahoo Finance is is talking about supply shortages for the holidays, and Forbes is writing about America’s supply chain disruption, perhaps is it safe to mention it again? I guess we’ll see what happens. Personally, I think these shortages have been in the works for a long, long time. Maybe if people were allowed to bring attention to them sooner, it could have helped prevent the worst of them, but we’ll never know.
The fact of the matter is, the US lacks port capacity. China has seven times more ports than the United States (446,000 vs 63,000). That’s seven times as many ports and seven times as much room and equipment to load exports or unload imports. They can outpace us with their eyes closed at this point. Once the armada of container ships is unloaded, the railroads experience back logs. You move two containers off the top of the stack and they instantly get replaced by new containers instead allowing you to get down to the bottom of the stack, and some items can end up delayed for weeks. Back in July eastbound rail traffic was suspended to help clear one such backlog. Even pre-corona warehouses were experiencing labor shortages. In the case of a shortage, workers will prioritize loading outgoing containers before unloading incoming ones. Then incoming goods have to wait on a truck. Truckers have a turnover rate of 87% and an average age of 47. CDL training was reduced during the pandemic, so truckers who leave the job are not quickly replaced.
Add lockdown restrictions, a shortage of workers due to the restrictions, and a Transportation Secretary with absolutely no experience, and you’re looking at an epic soup sandwich. Pete Buttigieg’s office says the problem is “transitory”, but it’s been nine months and I’m kind of ready to hear something else. When he was running for President, you couldn’t get him to shut up but now? Not a peep. While Pete dinks around at a job he has no experience in, handling a problem that even someone with experience would find overwhelming, I’m not going to hold my breath.
We’re not about to run out of food, so you can tell your friends to calm their tits. They may not be able to find the brand of soup they want, but they’re not going to starve to death. There’s no need to panic buy. If you want to make sure your Christmas presents get here in time, shop now or order American. Find substitutes for your groceries at local butchers and bakers. We’re about to be reminded of just how much we’ve become reliant on imports when we’ve got much of what we need right here.