America’s President Joe Biden does not represent Santa Claus.
Of course it can be tempting to believe that an all-powerful figure is capable of unifying the country, getting everybody vaccinated, and giving Christmas gifts to everyone through just his goodness and the exercise of state power. After a difficult couple of years inflation has taken off like a group of flying reindeer. It would be nice to hear a story about someone who is kind and brings happiness to the world.
An example: President Joe Biden is trying to ease congestion along the country’s complicated shipping supply chain. This could disrupt millions of Americans’ holiday season.
That’s the first sentence—yes, really—of an article published this week by PoliticoAbout the White House’s cheerful old elf, who apparently scurried off to America’s ports in an effort to save Christmas.
Biden was actually much less energetic. Biden gave a speech in which he browbeated port operators and companies for their logistical problems and threatened to drop a bag of coal into their stocks. Biden declared, “If the private industry doesn’t get on board, we’re going out to ask them to do so.”
Biden must project the image of trying to achieve something as president. This is a common job. Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. To appear indifferent or helpless in the face of something as terrible as a slightly-less-prosperous holiday season is to invite the disapproval of the masses—or at least the handfuls of them who aren’t locked into voting Republican or Democrat no matter what. Our presidency is now an omnipotent office. We expect our checks and gifts to arrive on schedule.
However, believing in an all powerful government has the same problem as believing Santa Claus is real. It doesn’t make sense. F.A. was not what he meant to refer to Old Saint Nick. Hayek could as well have been referring to Old Saint Nick, but F.A. There is no way that one individual (or large bureaucracy), can know which buttons and what strings are to be pulled. Even if there are elves available to assist, they won’t know.
So Biden appears to be doing something, while almost everyone with knowledge of these topics says that he is powerless.
The president’s actions won’t cause any real harm. It doesn’t fix the problem, however,” Steven Ricchiuto (U.S. chief economic economist, Mizuho Securities), tells Reuters.
Steve Pasierb is the CEO and president of the Toy Association. He says, “There’s not a political intervention that will get this done. And there might not be any human intervention because this issue now will last well into next years.” Politico. (In fact, Pasierb’s quote appearsOnly four paragraphsFollowing the sentence about Biden’s “rushing to relieve congestion in the supply chains.
However, that doesn’t mean Biden hasn’t got some good ideas. It seems that enough political pressure has been applied to the Port of Los Angeles. Some 60 ships were reported to have been waiting off-shore last month in order to load. In the future, the port will be able to operate 24 hours a day. It’s pretty wild that the port wasn’t already doing that—in light of, you know, the 60 ships that are reportedly waiting offshore, and the fact that most major ports around the world already operate around the clock.
At least in part, the blame seems to be on them. Biden’s union pals—specifically the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents workers at the Port of Los Angeles and others along the west coast. Peter Tirschwell reports that there are many issues today in the US container flow because of the long history and toxic labor-management relations on the West Coast. The Journal of Commerce A trade publication. This issue is centered on “Huge cost rises, restricted ability to automate Terminals, chronic avoidable interruptions during contract negotiation, and much lower productivity and work hours than ports in Asia or elsewhere around the globe.”
Scott Lincicome is a Cato Institute trade policy expert. He noted this in a newsletter by The DispatchThe United States does not possess a port that is ranked among the top 50 on the World Bank Container Port Performance Index. Philadelphia’s port is the best in the world, ranking at 83rd. Los Angeles ranks 328th.
Although automation could help, the unions are against it. The 2019 agreement reached by the union of longshoremen would prevent automated terminals from the Port of Los Angeles indefinitely. You should mark your calendars to celebrate Christmas 2025.
Biden has spent most of his year selling Congress the proposed infrastructure plan. This would include $16 million for port upgrades. Those upgrades may not be as impressive if unions don’t make concessions.
Even if Biden were to simply put his finger on the nose and rely on his union allies, it is unlikely that these labor problems will be solved in the next couple of months. It is unlikely that the shift to 24 hour operations at Port America will happen overnight. This is because it requires additional workers to hire, something which is difficult right now. Many other problems exist at the warehouses, trucking companies, and in general. Many of these are temporary effects, others long-standing problems that were exacerbated during the pandemic. None of these issues will be addressed quickly. Government intervention is more likely to make them worse than better.
As it turns out the miracle of modern holiday shopping is not one person who delivers millions upon millions of presents in a single evening. For weeks or months prior to December 25, thousands of workers move millions of goods all over the world, ensuring that everything is in the proper places at the appropriate times. The whole operation is managed by many people, not just one.
It also means that not everyone can solve all problems. Biden’s administration must focus on the long-term by looking at how regulations can be reduced and which government policies, such as counterproductive tariffs, can be eliminated to allow ports to operate more efficiently. John D. Porcari should assume this responsibility, an ex-deputy secretary of transportation who was appointed to the position in August. However, Porcari stated that his primary method of contacting companies in different stages of the shipping process to encourage them to increase their hours and to share information was not working. Politico.
This is not government’s role, and it’s no surprise that months of speeches and phone calls have failed to achieve anything. Walmart, Target Costco and Home Depot have begun chartering their cargo ships to ship them to smaller ports, where they are less likely of being delayed. The Wall Street JournalThis week’s report was published. It’s those kinds of innovative, figure-it-out-as-we-go approaches that will save the holiday season, not top-down orders from the White House.
The president is not America’s chief gift-giver. Anyone old enough to vote should know that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.