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Monday, October 25, 2021

"Lower Your Expectations"

I know that many of you don't care to watch Tucker Carlson regularly.  You and I disagree there: I try to watch every night — especially the opening segment.  In my view, Tucker Carlson offers some matters to consider or offers a different insights about certain matters you have already considered.

I admit that I myself admire the biting sarcasm in the video clip below:

Extremely brief précis for the above: War is peace, freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength (George Orwell, 1984).  

The referenced Washington Post opinion piece, dated October 18, 2021, is reproduced in full below the fold, along with my brief commentary:Don’t rant about short-staffed stores and supply chain woes by Micheline Maynard:
For more than a century, business experts have been trying to dial up the United States’ efficiency. Ever since Frederick Taylor published “The Principles of Scientific Management” in 1911, companies have focused on doing things more quickly, and raising consumers’ expectations as a result.

But Taylor’s ideas didn’t take into account the havoc a pandemic might do to supply chains — and how that would blunt what a few months ago seemed like a looming resumption of modern daily life’s zippy pace.

Across the country, Americans’ expectations of speedy service and easy access to consumer products have been crushed like a Styrofoam container in a trash compactor. Time for some new, more realistic expectations. 

Fast food is less fast. A huge flotilla of container ships is stuck offshore in California, waiting to unload. Shelves normally stocked with Halloween candy this time of year are empty, as I saw the other day at a Target here in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

The issue has become so troublesome — with alarming economic and political ramifications — that the White House is stepping in, urging unions, port operators and big consumer-goods companies to work around the clock (if they aren’t already) to unclog supply pipelines. 

American consumers, their expectations pampered and catered to for decades, are not accustomed to inconvenience. 

For generations, American shoppers have been trained to be nightmares,” Amanda Mull wrote in August in the Atlantic, before the supply chain problem turned truly ugly. “The pandemic has shown just how desperately the consumer class clings to the feeling of being served.”

Customers’ persistent whine, “Why don’t they just hire more people?,” sounds feeble in this era of the Great Resignation, especially in industries, such as food service, with reputations for being tough places to work.

Rather than living constantly on the verge of throwing a fit, and risking taking it out on overwhelmed servers, struggling shop owners or late-arriving delivery people, we’d do ourselves a favor by consciously lowering expectations. 

I don’t know about where you live, but in Ann Arbor the luxury of blithely tapping on a phone and summoning a restaurant delivery that arrives in 45 minutes is over. There’s a shortage of food-delivery drivers nationwide. The sanity-preserving move is to assume an hour and half for delivery, and then a mere hour and 10 minutes is a pleasant surprise. 

I understand people are getting frustrated, but it’s time for people to take a chill pill,” says Lisa McDonald, owner of TeaHaus, an Ann Arbor shop selling tea and gifts. “I’m just not going to have the things that I usually have. Maybe they aren’t going to get the purple mug, but the blue one is pretty, too.”

The other day I found myself carrying home a loaf of bread in my bare hands because the bakery had run out of bags. Back when we didn’t know how good we had it — circa 2019 — I might have been annoyed by the inconvenience. Now I was just glad the bakery was still in business. 

Other Ann Arbor merchants have given me a glimpse of what it’s like on their side of the supply chain misery. Leyla Conlan, owner of the stationery shop The Write Touch by Leyla, says she recently returned from a gift trade show, where vendors were happy to take her orders but warned that they couldn’t promise the same delivery time as they had in the past. The reasons included factory slowdowns, shortages of packing materials and fewer truck drivers. 

Steve Mangigian, managing partner at Zingerman’s coffee and candy companies, tells me he used to order paper cups and lids for his baristas about six to eight weeks in advance. Now, the wait is 16 to 18 weeks — possibly longer. “If I can’t get cups to sell my product, what am I supposed to do? The supply chain could literally shut down my business.”

I know Mangigian because I’ve been writing a book about Zingerman’s. It’s scheduled to be published in February. Everything seems on track, but the publishing industry hasn’t been immune to the supply chain snarls. Paper shortages, worker shortages and the traffic jams at shipping ports are endangering holiday books sales, according to CNN. 

All I can do is hope for the best. Like everybody else. And keep those expectations reasonable. Eventually the supply chain will get straightened out. 

American consumers might have been spoiled, but generations of them have also dealt with shortages of some kind — gasoline in the 1970s, food rationing in the 1940s, housing in the 1920s when cities such as Detroit were booming. Now it’s our turn to make adjustments. 

My thoughts about the above....

We've been here before, with these same drumbeats resounding during the Sixties and on into the Seventies during President Carter's administration.  

Indeed, every Socialist and Communist countries beat the same drums: "Make sacrifices for the greater good!"  In other words, follow the tenets of Collectivism. a failed political-economic theory.


  1. Yup. With trillions of government "free money" sloshing around, of course demand will outstrip supply. Another crisis caused by government distorting the market.

    Covid did not wreck the economy. Hysterical government reactions did.

    Welcome back!

    1. I was thinking that free money dried up awhile back. Regardless, I'm reasonably sure there's several other drivers for the shelf depletions.

      According to Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth of the 764 American billionaire grew $2.1 trillion during the pandemic. They held just under $3 trillion prior to COVID and now have over $5 trillion.

      The Federal Reserve Board estimates these 764 people now hold nearly 70% more than over half of U.S. households.

      The meat industry for example, which is now monopolized by 4 major corporations, is making record obscene profits while cattle producers are going bankrupt and we’re paying record high prices at the grocery.

      It’s also worth noting the these 764 people are spending fortunes to discourage vaccinations and masking. They have vast control the propaganda machine. Tucker is a huge cog in that machine.

      On another note pertaining to the shortages during the Carter years. The price of a cup of coffee was a dime almost anywhere you went. I can't recall the reason but there was a coffee shortage. Coffee per lb skyrocketed and stayed there for months. After awhile, most every Mom & Pops to McDonalds raised the price of a cup tp $.50. Coffee drinkers accepted it because they were well aware.

      Well, months went by and the lb of coffee returned to its original lower price. But the $.10 cup of coffee was to never be seen again.

      We'll be paying for what Tucker sells for a long long time.

    2. SF,
      Welcome back!

      Thank you, my friend. And thank you for keeping this blog up and running during my long absence.

      I'm not up to full steam, but getting there.

    3. SF said: "Covid did not wreck the economy. Hysterical government reactions did."

      I would suggest government manipulations did.
      Picking chains over hardware stores, pot shops over bakeries, abortion mills over bookstores.
      And panicking the sheep.

    4. Hell, I'll bite. Please tell us how government picked "chains over hardware stores, pot shops over bakeries, abortion mills over bookstores".....and how the sheep 'panicked'.

      I'll wait.

    5. Gee CI, Pick up a Michigan newspaper from last year.
      I broadcast a few shows on it with prominent guests talking about it.
      And obviously "sheep panicked" is a metaphor, or a simile, or an analogy, or something.
      People thought they were going to die if they touched a gas pump handle without a latex glove on.
      They are still wearing magic talismans on their face across the mouths and having evil chemicals pumped into their body to avoid something that has less chance of killing them than the shots they are taking, and taking, and taking.

    6. To be specific, Gretchen Whitmer shut down local stores and allowed big box stores to stay open and specifically exempted, as I said, pot shops and abortion mills.
      Forbade power boating and funerals. Pushed sick in with the elderly. It was kind of a big thing.

    7. Ed,
      wearing magic talismans on their face across the mouths and having evil chemicals pumped into their body to avoid something that has less chance of killing them than the shots they are taking, and taking, and taking

      Well said!

      And what people are doing is insane, in my view.

    8. To be specific, Gretchen Whitmer shut down.....

      Fair point. I misunderstood the theme of your post. I had supply chain & logistics on my mind.

  2. As a nation, we have indeed weathered such shortages before, often quasi-willingly for the good of the nations defense [fat chance of that ever happening again].

    But the difference today is that our supply chain, as noted above, has been made "efficient". When there are a million foreseen and unforeseen events that can affect the pipeline from manufacturer/grower to consumer...."just in time logistics" comes "just too late".

    In almost every facet of our lives, digitization and modernization has been implemented without the necessary foundations and fallbacks should [more precisely when] an obstacle occurs.

    Self-sufficiency is now a quaint notion for most fat, lazy and coddled Americans.

  3. I place a good portion on the disruption of our "distribution" system on the movement to "Just in Time" delivery. I witnessed this in our Health care system a decade or more ago.

    The just-in-time (JIT) inventory system is a management strategy that minimizes inventory and increases efficiency. Just-in-time manufacturing is also known as the Toyota Production System (TPS) because the car manufacturer Toyota adopted the system in the 1970s.

    Most folks started to recognize something was up when they took their car in for repair. No auto repair shops kept parts on hand anymore.

    Our health system ended our stock rooms including an adequate amount of drugs, and went to next day delivery from pens to medical supplies. No doubt the companies that supplied them assumed the same concept.
    We were constantly short of drugs and having to switch patients to other medications, often not in their best interest. But who cared to talk about it. Same with other medical supplies.
    This was a disaster waiting to happen. Considering about 90 percent of our drugs came/come from China what possibly could go wrong.
    We reap what we sowed. Thank Japan.

    1. Japan did not come and steal our manufacturing. We sent it to China. Sent it. To save cost. Part of the blame lies with manufacturers who wanted to increase profits, but part lies with consumers who wanted an ever increasing panoply of cheaper goodies.

      When Japanese cars first became an issue there was a massive advertising campaign, in part by American labor unions, to buy American and save American jobs. It failed rapidly as consumers went for the cheaper prices.

      It's like blaming the con man for stealing from you. A can man knows he cannot steal from an honest person. He looks for someone he can persuade to participate in a crooked game with him.

    2. I was referencing the Just-in-Time process of distribution.

    3. Lean manufacturing is a nightmare when you are trying to keep equipment running, that when it fails causes you to miss a shipment. Or when your supplier shorts you, the same.
      Often to avoid carrying costs and storage costs.

    4. Jayhawk,
      And a huge part of the blame lies with the government for making policies that favor outsourcing several of our industries. Steel-mill towns such as Steubenville, Ohio, we destroyed.

      I mention Steubenville because I saw the destruction over a period of years. I visited there in 1985, 2003, 2005, and 2007. The town has become a pitiful place!

  4. From the Guardian (October 22, 2021):

    Supermarkets are using cardboard cutouts of fruit, vegetables and other groceries to fill gaps on shelves because supply problems combined with a shift towards smaller product ranges mean many stores are now too big.

    Tesco has begun using pictures of asparagus, carrots, oranges and grapes in its fresh produce aisles, prompting ridicule on social media.

    “Mmmm, delicious photos of asparagus,” one commenter wrote on Twitter. Another mocked an oversized picture of the vegetable piled up: “I love that asparagus grows to this size in the UK. It’s our climate, I’m sure.”

    Shoppers have spotted fake carrots in Fakenham, cardboard asparagus in London, pictures of oranges and grapes in Milton Keynes, and 2D washing liquid bottles in Cambridge. Sainsbury’s has also used outline drawings of packaging to fill shelves.

    The tactic comes as shortages of HGV drivers and pickers and packers on farms and food processing plants lead to low availability of some items in supermarkets. Problems at ports, where handlers are struggling to cope with a surge in deliveries for the festive season, are also leading to shortages.

    Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst at Shopfloor Insights, said he had only begun to see the cardboard cutouts of fresh produce in the past year, but said similar tactics had been in place elsewhere in supermarkets for some time. “It has become quite commonplace. It is not only because of shortages, but because a lot of the larger stores are now simply too big.”...

  5. At the grocery store on Friday, I noticed quite a few sections of shelves completely empty -- with a supply-line-disruption notice taped to the shelves. Mostly for items I don't buy -- although there were significant gaps in the toilet-paper and paper-towel sections.

  6. Well... what did we expect? At some point supply lines would of course be disrupted by something, crashing the "just in time" delivery system designed in part to maximize profits to corporations and shareholders.

    As people complain about less help, unstocked shelves and rising prices, a fair question comes to mind...

    How many are willing to see less in their retirement accounts if companies are forced to manufacture goods here in the US or closer to our shores in more expensive locations?

    I dare say legions of 401K holders are not out there clamoring for less ROI in exchange for more goods being produced in the USA and other areas where we have greater control.

    There's a reason we make so much stuff in China... it costs less, increases profits and puts more bucks in our retirement accounts.

    Consequences be damned.

    1. Good questions. I am very pro-free markets and very much against Bernie and Sandy's demand economy government domination of markets, but we must all face the fact that we have been living a debt-sponsored fantasy for decades.

      I don't think there is any other nation where goods and services are so plentiful and so cheap.

    2. We've all been beggaring each other's wages. Two big reason I am pessimistic we can address these issues or even discuss them rationally:

      1. We are polarized in to left tribes and right tribes, where doctrine always trumps facts and logic

      2. Many people--including most politicians--are ignorant of basic economics

  7. Biden has implemented Venezuelan socialism. Printing money and empty grocery stores. Time for the "Biden Diet" to start slimming all you fat Americans down....

  8. The problem --as I see it-- is that "Progressives" in general and the Biden administration in particular, are suffering from a plague of ideological
    induced stupidity. I would suggest psychotropic drugs but that seem to be what causes the problem to start with.


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