October brims with bad news for Americans planning ahead for the holidays. At the beginning of this month, Biden’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Fauci, postulated that it’s simply “too soon to tell” if people can gather for Christmas. As though we needed Fauci’s permission to spend the holidays with family, we now grow increasingly dependent on the government to solve the growing supply chain crisis too. The White House, in turn, remains unable to guarantee that gifts will arrive in time for Christmas and struggles to determine who exactly is to blame and where and how to direct the private sector to undo the newest economic disaster.
In an interview with Fox Business last week, former Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon stated, “I’ve never seen it like this, and I don’t think anybody living in this country has,” referring to the supply chain crisis as a “mess from start to finish” and further calling it “unprecedented.” Simon posited that shipping challenges and rising consumer prices are due, in part, to the current labor shortage causing a lack of needed workers to unload ships and deliver goods.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, meanwhile spun the crisis, referring to the rise in prices as a “good thing,” a reflection of increased demand as “more people are buying goods.” The White House in June cited the “fast pivot to growth” as the cause of the current “challenges that (as of June) were simply “transitory” and a natural result of fast growth. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg now suggests the supply chain crisis will extend into next year.
The current supply chain disruption reveals long-standing inefficiencies in the ways the United States gets goods to consumers. Players driving such inefficiencies include powerful unions who remain resistant to automation and policies that would increase productivity at the expense of workers. Biden has since directed ports to begin operating 24/7, in keeping with the common practice of busy ports in other parts of the world.
While some of the current crisis certainly owes to longstanding policies and inefficient processes, anything the Biden administration does now to address it may be too little too late and could only serve to exacerbate economic recovery. Prices for goods aren’t likely to come down until the supply chain crisis can be resolved, as scarcity of goods continues. Eight months into Biden’s term, we’re told to buy our gifts early. Is this really what “Build Back Better” looks like?