Sorry Mom, For My Language About the Supply-Chain Cluster....
(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Sorry Mom, For My Language About the Supply-Chain Cluster....
(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
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I would like to apologize to my dear deceased mother. I would also like to apologize to the few women I have hoodwinked into thinking  I am a gentleman. As an amateur linguist and hack wordsmith, one searches for “le mot juste” to give a sentence some panache, some resiliency, a pinch of the right seasoning. Honestly, I am somewhat triggered by the forthcoming word. The sweet deceased woman mentioned above crammed a bar of Ivory soap down my throat upon my utterance of this word as a young tyke.  I was just trying to get my point across!

Here goes. Little Ralphie is not going to get his Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas because the “Progressive” Left and the Democrat Party FU#K UP EVERYTHING THEY TOUCH!

Nothing is more proof of this than the supply chain clusterf#ck (sorry Mom) at California ports. All they have to do is just leave us alone, but they have to meddle in the economy. There are three kinds of leftist bad guys, 1) the Obama cabal that wants to turn America into Venezuela, 2) the crooked Clintonistas who use the political process to enrich themselves and their friends and 3) the vacuous feel good airheads who fall for do-gooder platitudes. All three groups are responsible for there being no gifts under the Christmas tree this year. Let’s examine.

THE LOCK DOWNS. Even FDR was not this stupid! The most lame brained public policy event in America history.  Had any of the governors enacting these draconian lockdowns ever run a business? I used to own a wholesale seafood company. We smoked salmon that would get to our plant in 2 days after being harvested in Chile, iced down and fresh. I owned an electrical supply company; we could drop ship parts from all over the world anywhere. In other businesses, one could call in an order of construction materials at 8 am and a 10-wheeler would unload pallets of bricks, siding, windows, sheetrock, etc. on the job site at 10 am. I always marveled in absolute awe and American pride at the genius behind these distribution networks. The efficiencies of these supply lines took years to build with each supplier honing his business and fine tuning his capital outlays to match increased productivity. Suppliers are also buyers, and these buyers are also buyers and on and on it goes. There are lines of credit and elaborate security interests associated with buying, and receivables financing associated with selling. There are labor constraints, credit risks, gross margin considerations, spoilage concerns, inventory control, insurance and dozens of other variants a business owner must manage. WHAT THE HELL DID THESE IDIOTS THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN THEY SHUT THE ECONOMY DOWN? ( Sorry for yelling Mom, but I’m worked up!). Inventories were lost. Plants were shuttered. Employees let go. Truck drivers (who have huge vehicle loans) idled. Everything that took years to perfect crumbled. Bottom line: restarting supply lines is much like restarting a business from scratch. The old efficiencies aren’t there, everything must begin anew!

INFLATION: Some toys for the kiddos will be too expensive this year. When there is a dearth of supply, prices go up. Duh! Bob Cratchit had Scrooge to help him out. You Dear Reader got a $1,200 check a year ago that didn’t even cover your toilet paper costs. 

GOVERNMENT OWNERSHIP: Both the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach are owned by municipalities run exclusively by Democrats. While they lease portions of each port to operators, a government entity calls the shots. Does anybody with two grains of sense think that if these ports were 100% privately owned with no government interference that the owners would not figure out a way to unload more ships and make more money?

LABOR UNIONS: Gee, I wonder if any if any of these problems have anything to do with unionized labor? How is it even possible that these ports only run an 8 hour shift? I am not sure I even know anybody who only works an 8 hour day.

LABOR UNION FIEFDOM. Let’s call a spade a spade. The state of California grants special rights to unions. In other words, it interferes into the inner-workings between labor and capital. Why? Because the Democratic Party benefits! Longshoremen make $175,000/year plus benefits. The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union provides the labor for both ports. Of course, the union is not particularly interested in operating efficiency.  When a Long Beach private contractor attempted to automate their operations earlier this year, the union opposed the move fearing lost jobs. Crane operators make $250,000/year. Truckers complain about lazy operators who could easily unload 5 times the number of containers than they do. This is the natural consequence when government gives special protection to union labor. No doubt, a privately run entity with non-unionized labor would pay the crane operator based on productivity. Our vital supply lines to the rest of the world are managed by entities less efficient and more trifling than your local DMV.

The union has 42,000 members, and the right to extract money out of every paycheck. That’s a lot of moola. Where does all the money go? 99% of campaign contributions go to Democrats, but that’s a tiny part of the way a union “spreads the wealth” it extracts from its members to its political friends. Political partners get jobs, manage union money, do their legal work, handle their benefits packages and a million other payments for “services” rendered. How many “fake” jobs or contracts are there where politicians’ families get compensated for doing nothing?  And then there is the underbelly of unions. I have no evidence that this union is crooked or has “underworld” connections. I hope they don’t. But, California is a one-party state and our Justice Department has been completely politicized and is now an intimidation arm of the Democratic Party. History is replete with what happens when these conditions are present.

PAYING PEOPLE NOT TO WORK. When the government pays people not to work, guess what? They don’t go back to work. All over the country, there are tremendous labor shortages. Gee, could there be a connection?

STUPID ASS CALIFORNIA LAWS. Ever heard of the California Air Resources Board? They regulate trucking in California and have mandated that truckers modify old trucks (older than 3 years) or purchase new trucks (at 4 times the costs) to meet “so called” air pollution standards. Cui bono? I say “so called” because some protected interest usually benefits when government regulates industry. In this instance, the people who don’t benefit are “independent” drivers. The guys who do the bulk of the hauling.  Another law is Assembly Bill 5 which seeks to make many independent “1099” truckers employees which has added confusion and risk to the trucking industry. I find it hilarious that California allows thousands of people to defecate on its streets in its major cities, but somehow a worldwide health care apocalypse awaits us due to folks driving trucks manufactured in 2017 as opposed to 2018. By the way, Mumbai is a hygiene paradise compared to some San Francisco neighborhoods.

FUEL COSTS. Since Premier Biden and his politburo came into office, gas and diesel costs are up 70% from a year ago. California prices are another 33% higher than the national average. No surprise, California has the highest fuel tax in the nation, more than 3 times the already too high federal tax. Dear Joe, trucks don’t run off of windmills or solar energy. Drivers don’t run loads to lose money. It’s easier to just cash the checks you are giving them than to drive.

VACCINE MANDATES. At a time when the United States is suffering under a severe labor shortage, one would think prohibiting up to 34% of the workforce from working would  not be a particularly good idea. In fact, it could be considered a dumbs ass thing to do.

Mom, I am sorry for the bad words and for being so caustic, but I get my surliness from you. Remember the time you saw Dan Rostenkowski at the Saddle and Cycle Club in Chicago and got in his face and called him a crook? Hell, you were the local campaign chair for Goldwater in 64. I thought being “extreme in the defense of liberty” was a good thing?   All of these supply line problems are due to government intrusion into the private economy, not letting markets work and depriving us of our liberties!  I think under the circumstances, using the F-word is appropriate!

I know I can’t see you, but I have this strange sensation that you are holding a bar of Ivory soap in your right hand.

Robert C. Smith is Managing Partner of Chartwell Capital Advisors and likes to opine on the Rob Is Right Podcast and Webpage.

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