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Shipping Backlog Calls for Christmas in October

“Santa Claus is comin’ to town,” are the repetitive words to a classic Christmas song. But will those words ring true this holiday season?         

Perhaps not, if the ongoing backup of ships and supplies at major American ports continues. The Spectator explores this problem in “The Supply Chain Problem Is Here to Stay.” Restrictive COVID policies of the last two years coupled with federal unemployment benefits have acerbated this gridlock, leaving many of these ports short of longshoremen and truck drivers. So there the ships sit for days and weeks, waiting to deliver goods to a country whose policies have in part led to this oceanic traffic jam.         

Once again, government, in this case both local and national, has blundered.     

For various reasons—a high demand for goods in the wake of the pandemic, larger container ships, too few warehouses, and more—this congestion is occurring at ports worldwide.         

This logjam of ships is also a sign of other policies gone awry, namely globalism and free trade. For decades now, American corporations have moved manufacturing overseas, looking to pay lower wages and so make higher profits, all the while convincing the rest of us that this is the direction the world is headed. Those cheap jeans and kids’ toys at Walmart were our payoff for this sell-out.         

With our ports jammed up, our stores and online outfits will be short of goods other than holiday favors and presents. For example, as The Spectator points out, the lack of certain microchips manufactured overseas is already affecting the automotive industry, causing prices to soar for new and used cars in the United States. And remember back at the beginning of the pandemic when we learned that over 90 percent of our pharmaceuticals were manufactured in countries like India and China? There was a mild uproar about this circumstance, but was anything done to return those companies to America? Cue the crickets.

Yes, we’re in a mess. So what can we do as individuals?         

First, we should maintain a supply of staples for emergency use. We should keep food and water on hand in case of power outages, severe storms, and other natural catastrophes. For a 72-hour emergency kit, The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends 6,000 calories and 3 gallons of water for each person. This is a minimum time frame, and many other sites advise stockpiling staples for much longer periods.

This winter in particular, stocking up on canned goods and other foods can also act as a hedge against inflation. Anyone who shops for groceries has seen costs for certain foods soaring in our stores. Our wounded shipping and trucking industries will only contribute to these rising prices. Purchasing these foods now may save money later.         

If you use oil or natural gas to heat your homes, buy now. Those prices may also rise, and you don’t want to be caught short if supplies dwindle.         

As for holiday shopping, now is the time to start looking for those gifts and decorations. Demand will climb as we head into November, and this year we can count on delays of items shipped to our stores and our homes.         

Give Santa a hand and shop early.

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.

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