Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, has spoken with Chris Wallace on Halloween, in what is most likely his first public appearance since he had taken paternity leave. He spoke with Chris about climate change, inflation, electric vehicles, and tax credits, but what everyone is interested in hearing about is the greatest logistics disaster since the Suez Canal blockage in March. That is to say, the backlog of ships in the twin Southern California ports.
Bottlenecks on Bottlenecks
The estimated number of ships waiting to empty vary from estimator to estimator, but what is unanimous is that the number of ships is not going down, it is rising. Buttigieg says it is due to everyone’s favorite pandemic, COVID-19.
“Look, there are so many things that are still happening in our economy—distortions, disruptions, things in our supply chain that are affecting prices that are clearly a direct consequence of the pandemic. Which is why the best thing we can do for our economy in the short term, and to deal with these transitory issues, is to put the pandemic behind us,” Buttigieg told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “The best thing we can do for the long run for issues around pricing and the supply chain is better infrastructure so that goods can move smoothly in this country, and better pro-family policies such as childcare.”
“And in the medium-term, again, at risk of repeating myself, if we really want to see all of these disruptions end, we’ve got to end the pandemic. That’s what getting everybody vaccinated is all about,” he said.
Two Ports, Two Takeaways
There are two things to consider from what Pete has laid out. One is the value of paternity leave; the other, COVID-19’s effects on the supply chain.
There are some who would argue that it is sexist and homophobic to detract from Buttigieg’s role as an adoptive father. However, were it still Elaine Chao as the Secretary of Transportation during a backlog crisis such as this one, we would still contend that at the very least having a suitable understudy to handle the issue during maternity leave would be necessary.
Additionally, Pete Buttigieg was quick to explain supply chain issues and component shortages on the coronavirus pandemic. However, this is the second year that the pandemic has raged. While Christmas was a tall order last year due to various events in the trucking industry at that time, it was nothing of this magnitude.
What is next for the port backlog story is anyone’s guess, but we will keep you posted as news unravels.
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