November 3, 2021

Leftist Policies Are Breaking the Supply Chain

It seems to be the story of the year that our economy can’t quite get going.

When politicians and bureaucrats launched “15 days to stop the spread” 21 months ago, we began to deal with shortages and empty store shelves. Running out of toilet paper and cleaning supplies was a significant but understandable headache at a time when cleanliness was truly next to godliness. But when the lumber for that deck you wanted to build couldn’t be found or the new SUV you wanted to buy wasn’t on the dealer’s lot because of a computer chip shortage, well, that’s when these minor nuisances became drains on the overall economy.

And the solution seems relatively simple, particularly knowing over 100 massive ships teeming with cargo boxed up in shipping containers ready for transfer to trucks are anchored outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. One imagines a line of trucks sitting along the dockside ready to accept a shipping container for delivery right to your local store, but, alas, in this era of government and labor regulations, it doesn’t quite work that way.

So, it’s distressing to learn that, despite the need, neither of these ports are running continuously. As of last week, our Lewis Morris wrote: “Long Beach is operating temporarily 24 hours a day Monday through Thursday, but that’s it. The Port of Los Angeles still operates under the daylight hours it’s always enjoyed, and neither port has any plans to permanently go 24/7.”

Meanwhile, Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff adds: “The elephant in the room is a workforce that, to an unprecedented degree, would rather not work and has been incentivized not to by unprecedented unemployment benefits. The shortage of truck drivers contributes significantly to the supply chain crisis. That shortage will be exacerbated when truck drivers are fired for refusing the Wuhan coronavirus vaccine.”

Our Nate Jackson also alerted you about some of these issues and how the president addressed them with the decisive action of putting out a fact sheet. And while Grace Curley of Spectator World reminds us in her take that VP Kamala Harris warned us about the problems in August, she also wistfully notes: “I wish I could say the Biden administration isn’t doing anything to fix the problem. If only that were the case. As always, this administration seems determined to make the problem worse.”

Since Harris spoke out in August, we’ve seen our secretary of transportation go AWOL on paternity leave while the administration haggled over how best to blow up our federal budget with goodies and handouts to selected recipients. Yet as we inch closer to the heart of the holiday shopping season, we still have millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise anchored on ships in the Pacific awaiting their turn.

And speaking of goodies and handouts, NR Capital’s Iain Murray reminds us that the federal largesse “will all place extra stress on the supply chain, which is really more like a network, where distortions in one area can cause more distortions in others.” The extra money will be chasing consumer goods, which will be harder to come by thanks to shipping issues, leading to more rapid inflation. Welcome back, Carter.

Perhaps the best way to elude this vicious circle is to begin making more products here, which would at least eliminate the port bottleneck. But in a world where we crave almost instant gratification, this shipping crisis will force us to remember that patience is a virtue, and the market, when left alone, will generally work itself out over time.

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