We have been lately warned that instead of finding Christmas gifts for sale we will instead find empty shelves. New cars and electronics are in short supply as electronic chip shortages persist. The cost of gasoline, food and just about everything has increased. Labor is at a premium as millions of jobs go unfilled.
Last week there were 62 cargo ships at the port of San Pedro-Long Beach waiting offshore to offload cargo, primarily from our major trading partner China. Some ships have been waiting for a month to offload. Delays are becoming longer and longer — there were only 25 ships waiting offshore in August.
We have been misled into believing slow manufacturing and a shortage of goods is the direct result of only “supply chain issues.”
If there is a supply chain issue, then why are ships sitting offshore as the goods on board are already here and ready to go? The truth is that there are other factors that have impacted of our supply crisis, higher costs and job vacancies.
In January 2018 Donald Trump initiated a commercial trade war with China under the banner America First.
Trump’s China embargo policies shut down much of our agricultural and high-end exports to China. U.S. taxpayers paid billions in subsidies to farmers and the manufacturing sector to keep their operations viable. All this while the extra taxes on Chinese imports were passed directly on to American consumers.
This approach was a lose-lose.
Other trading nations with whom we had enjoyed open commerce were also attacked by Trump, such as France. As a result of Trump’s trade wars, the Chinese, the French, and others, still bitter, are slow to cooperate even now.
Then the pandemic hit.
In order to stunt the coronavirus’ spread while vaccines were being developed, it was necessary to pause our flow of trade and slow local production. The restaurant, travel and hospitality industries were crippled. Unemployment soared to 15%.
In response, a bipartisan Congress passed financial relief measures to subsidize those financially impacted.
While I applaud President Joe Biden for his sincerity and good intentions, his administration still continues to pump billions of dollars into the accounts of our idle workforce, even as the economy has reopened. This free money has eroded the incentive for many to work and increased prices.
Last week I placed an employment ad for three entry-level positions paying far above average wages. We had 212 responses, but only managed to schedule 12 interviews. Of those interviews, only five kept the Zoom appointment and only two of the four offered a position accepted.
My firm attempted to contact the 200 who did not respond to set up an interview. We found that nearly all we reached simply wanted to use our company application for an unemployment claim and confessed to having no intention to actually work.
Recently the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that there are one and a half positions for hire for every person unemployed.
The extended cash giveaways and taxpayer-funded support during the pandemic has demotivated our workforce. Millions of able-bodied workers now seem content to stay unemployed so long we the taxpayers pay their bills, their rent, their utilities, and subsidize their medical benefits.
These excess funds have also fueled higher costs. Free money creates a willingness to pay more.
The reason ships sit offshore for weeks is because there are manpower shortages, not supply chain issues.
Truck drivers, longshoremen, retail store employees and customer service representatives are in short supply while millions are disinterested in applying for work so long as subsidies continue to roll in.
The unhoused are getting free apartments to go along with cash for food and illegal drugs, along with their disability benefits and free medical care.
We have become a subsidized nation, made largely of consumers, complainers, the underclass, the overtaxed middle-class and the super-wealthy.
America’s future and economic dominance are based on keeping our economic engine, the power of our currency, technological innovation, and our workforce viable and strong.
Alienating allies and trading partners, subsidizing the undeserving, and blaming other nations for our ills have eroded our economic power and influence.
Trump weakened our economy with his trade disputes. But this was made worse by Biden’s continued extension of unemployment and rent subsidies. The Biden administration, California policies, and local financial generosity have continued for too long. Rather than short and sweet support, subsidies now going on a second year have convinced our workforce to stay home.
America First means America works.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the COO of an accredited acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.