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Supply chain disruptions worsen as Transport Secretary Buttigieg remains absent

Supply chain disruptions worsen as Transport Secretary Buttigieg remains absent
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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President Joe Biden is facing yet another crisis relating to the supply chain disruptions that have caused a rise in the price of commodities as well as a shortage of commercial goods. The timing could not be any worse with the holiday season fast approaching.

To make matters worse, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appears to be missing in action after taking a leave of absence to tend to his newborn babies for the past two months.

In an effort to handle the growing supply chain crisis, Biden gave an address suggesting that White House partnerships with private companies could help to alleviate the crisis and decongest processing and bottlenecks. However, in spite of his words, social media commentators remained unconvinced with the President and responded by tweeting photographs of empty store shelves while referring to the President as “Bare Shelves Biden,” and “Empty Shelves Joe.”

The term trended on Twitter at the number one spot for several hours on late Thursday.

“Frustrated shoppers complaining about shortages of everyday products in their local stores are attacking President Joe Biden online with the hashtag ‘Empty Shelves Joe’ as the US faces severe supply chain problems that could stretch into the new year,” reported the Daily Mail, which added that the White House has advised shoppers to do their holiday shopping now instead of waiting for Christmas.

“Dozens of cargo ships carrying hundreds of thousands of containers of goods from China and Asia are waiting to dock in California as concern grows about likely Christmas shortages. Some retailers such as Costco and Walmart are limiting sales of toilet paper in some areas and toy company CEOs are telling parents to buy their kids’ Christmas gifts now to avoid disappointment,” the publication added.

Problems with the supply chain began with the COVID-19 lockdowns in China that started early last year. The disruption of product manufacturing and shipping from Asia caused a cascade of logistical failures across the world that saw a near shutdown of international air travel, and bottlenecks to both supply and transportation of goods.

The Washington Post published an extensive report on the breakdown of the supply chain in the United States, identifying multiple points of failure along the supply chain. CNBC reports that a shortage of truck drivers is further fueling the problem.

Fixing what ails the supply chain won’t be easy or quick, experts say. At its core, the problems plaguing nearly every disruption along this globally interconnected network is a lack of labor. The container ships off the coast of California don’t have the longshoreman to unload them. A shortage of truck drivers — a problem that existed pre-pandemic, but one that has only worsened since — means goods can’t get from the ports to warehouses to then find their way to retailers and consumers.

In California, the worker shortage can be traced to the state’s AB5 freelancer bill that curtails the employment of for-hire truck drivers as well as the state’s vaccine mandate on workers.

With no solution to the problem, CNN reports that the supply chain disruptions are only about to get worse, citing a Moody’s assessment of the crisis.

“The supply chain nightmare is jacking up prices for consumers and slowing the global economic recovery. Unfortunately, Moody’s Analytics warns supply chain disruptions ‘will get worse before they get better,'” CNN noted.

“‘As the global economic recovery continues to gather steam, what is increasingly apparent is how it will be stymied by supply-chain disruptions that are now showing up at every corner,’ Moody’s wrote in a Monday report.”

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  • By Ezra Levant

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