Probable causes for the supply chain mess in California ports

I’ve lived in California for nearly 50 years, certainly long enough to know the state is wacko. It’s become a self-immolating mess, with policies growing more disastrous as the years go by. Remember the old adage to “cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face?” That’s us. Our legislature keeps busy dreaming up more and better ways to screw our citizens, easily passing short-sighted laws because there is virtually no real opposition. If your state wants to pass “ranked-choice voting” and “open primary” laws, run the other way! They are a direct path to one-party rule, especially paired with corruption in the voting process.

When it comes to the current supply chain crisis, our state’s ineptitude is certainly apparent. Here’s why I think that is or, at least, what I’ve been able to ferret out by hunting online and using my ability to put two and two together and come up with four. I will say, I’m an absolute neophyte when it comes to this subject, and perfectly willing to admit it.

A few things, it seems to me, have played a part in the current crisis: Back in 2008, the state passed some onerous air quality legislation, that mandated truck engines be “upgraded” by certain dates. It was a gradual process, but older engines were simply not going to be able to be registered by the year 2020.

If you think about this law’s actual effect on trucking in the state, I’m sure you’ll realize (not that the legislators did) that many companies and independent truckers changed their work patterns because they couldn’t, or didn’t want to, spend the money to change out their trucks’ engines, especially since they operated in multiple states, and could avoid our expensive mandates.

There’s the very recent law about employment, AB5, that basically eliminated independent truckers. You need to be a salaried employee to drive in California unless you fit some pretty impossible criteria. I’m not an expert here, either, but I can imagine the entanglements. Again, since long-haul truckers work in multiple states, California has rules different than anywhere else, so why not avoid it?

Then, of course, there’s the newest regulation (don’t laugh!) that requires transitioning to zero-emission trucks. This starts taking effect in 2024. If you don’t currently have a truck, no matter the possibility of making some money in the short term, are you going to invest in one when you won’t be able to use it after a few years? And, given that currently available zero-emission semi-trucks have a range of (cough cough) 250 miles between charges, exactly how are you going to do long-haul trucking in such a truck?

That zero-emission fantasy is about as absurd as our newest law, eliminating small gas-powered engines, including generators and chain saws. I’m sure that rechargeable chain saw will work for at least 10 minutes and the solar generator will run your refrigerator for that long if it’s during a storm. See what I mean about short-sighted rules?

Add the fact that there are state and city vaccination requirements for truckers. As this article points out, that’s going to preclude anyone not vaccinated from trucking in the state. Moreover, if one is on the road, it’s not practical to do the testing that’s offered as an alternative, not to mention that 20% of the truckers polled didn’t want the jab.

I suspect the same problems exist for longshoremen. They can’t get enough workers. Why? Although I’ve had a hard time finding exact requirements, I have ascertained that the Port of Long Beach, for one, hires employees through the city’s civil service department. And I know city workers must be vaccinated, just like firemen, police, and hospital workers, I’m guessing there is not much they can do to convince people who don’t want the jab or have had COVID already, to take it. I know if I were strong-armed that way, I’d resist on principle.

That same problem of too few workers affects the ports that can’t do the offloading and, with the missing trucks, there’s no place to store anything that’s offloaded. It all seems like the perfect storm.

Image: Container ships off the California coast. YouTube screen grab.

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