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Supply Chain Issues;
All "Jammed Up!"


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Published December 4, 2021, [Updated December 13th]
in Galveston County Daily News


All U.S. ports are jammed with containers. At one point, Los Angeles had 65,000 cost equivalent units (CEUs), no space for more and over 115 ships waiting offshore to offload cargo. It’s suspected one ship broke an underwater pipeline by dropping anchor while waiting to enter port.

What happened to the “just in time” supply chain? What’s different today than a year ago? One expert points to the pandemic, all its shutdowns/lockdowns, and its impact on the global economy, not just here. With the exception of petrochemical products, the pandemic had major adverse effects on U.S. exports, leaving us with a glut of empty containers and limited space to store them. But that’s not the whole story.

Just like with local stores, businesses across the nation are having problems finding workers. When Congress and the White House decided to pay people not to work — making it more beneficial to stay home and collect unemployment — the labor force shrunk. If you can’t get longshoremen and truck drivers to work, everything bogs down.

The website American Stories and Principles tells us what happened in the Plymouth Colony. Gov. William Bradford saved them by changing the rules to “You don’t work, you don’t eat.” Gov. Ronald Reagan did the same in California when addressing the state’s welfare woes. If you’re able-bodied, community service is required in order to get welfare payments.

Add to the mix the White House’s vaccine mandates. Freedom-loving people don’t like to be told what they must do. Many will quit before taking a shot they oppose for a variety of reasons (natural immunity, religious beliefs, mistrust of possible long-term side effects). This causes even more labor shortages. Seventy percent of goods in the United States move by truck. There are 250,000 drivers affiliated with the American Truckers Association. That association reports 37 percent of its members will stop working if vaccine mandates remain in place.

Local work rules and regulations complicate the problem. In Los Angeles, containers were allowed to be stacked only two high forcing their placement on city streets and causing further bottlenecks. Locally, Mayor Michael Bechtel of Morgan’s Point said there are so many trucks and containers on the main access roads to his town it’s a challenge getting in and out of the city.

Meanwhile, The Epoch Times reports supply chain issues are increasing the price of U.S. imports, adding to the current inflationary spiral everybody is experiencing, especially those at the low end of the economic spectrum. Add to this China's recent decision to quarantine seafarers on their vessels for seven weeks which will cause further delays.

So what are some possible solutions?

• Stop paying people not to work.

• Continue encouraging people to be vaccinated, but stop the mandates. Follow Florida’s example, prohibiting governmental and private sector mandates that threaten non-vaccinated employees with termination.

• Get rid of work rules and unnecessary regulations that slow the free flow of products.

• Look for ways to move loaded containers out of the ports; perhaps by rail. Freeport is working on doing this.

Finally, until our economy improves and we reduce our reliance upon, and purchase of, imports, we can expect to see continued supply chain issues.

When I was working in Washington, DC, we had a "Buy American" policy for all government procurements unless there were no US suppliers. A recent President had a policy of "Make America Great Again." Our nation, and its citizens, need to focus on creating, building, and buying from sources in the U.S.A. in order to increase our economic power and security.

Author and Columnist
Photo of Bill Sargent and Mark Mansius
December 4, 2021

Bill Sargent has written over 230 guest columns since 2014 and continues to do so. He lives in Galveston.
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