WORDS: 1,283 — It’s easy to see life as being some sort of normal when we can go to the local grocery store and see everything we need filling the shelves. Don’t take that for granted one bit. Any number of things can affect the distribution network, globally and domestically. Container ships languishing off our coasts in line waiting to unload are not just “somewhere else” not affecting us. And… it’s not just the lack of dock workers causing the delays..
Just because this crisis has the word “global” attached to it, make no mistake, global problems do become domestic problems. In our case, and also in Britain and other developed countries, there’s a big shortage in truck drivers, dock workers, and increasing fuel costs due to the impaired delivery system. You’ve also likely heard about a shortage in microchips due to the Covid delays. Those things are in everything these days, from cars to electric blankets, and without those chips production backs up. Bottom line, a lot of separate supply chain avenues leading to the stuff you need in your home have been affected by our last 18 months of Covid. But that’s not the only threat to our supply chain.
Our climate is changing and our population is growing. People are expanding their lives into areas of the country becoming increasingly susceptible to the effects of major weather events. Major cataclysmic storms, like Katrina, end up affecting huge populations of people in large regions by affecting services for longer and longer periods of time before some kind of relief. Not to mention the aftermath of such major storms having destroyed the places we used to go to buy the necessities for our lives. That requires a large distribution network just to feed and cloth huge population sections of the country that will require ongoing emergency relief. The coasts are going to experience higher water levels that will cause its own kind of devastation…. flooding from huge rainfalls. The list goes on.
There are areas of the country prone to forest fires that grow in size to that of some states. Other areas can be prone to earthquakes that so far have not included any major population areas. Don’t think living in the Mid-West makes you safe from quakes. Back in the 1811-1812 there was a couple quakes reaching 7.5 in a small settlement in Missouri named New Madrid that today would have completely devastated Memphis and cause severe structural damage as far away as Chicago.
But that’s not all.
There’s politics… and I am not talking about legislation, taxes, tariffs, or the maneuverings of OPEC affecting the price of oil. Just consider our relationship with China. There is a huge amount of trade we do with China, buying and selling. That politic alone could threaten product availability here in the States since goods from China represent a large base of products we use every day. While China is acting more belligerent each day on the world stage I am not sure Xi wants to disrupt the economic (money) chain over Taiwan or the Spratly Islands. But there’s an even more ominous political influence over the distribution network here at home…. domestic violence.
Think about our current national divide, the turmoil of the Trump era, with the Big Lie feeding the threat to democratic voting… and the future possibilities suggested by the events of the insurrection of January 6th. Think about the fatigue and ongoing stresses of the pandemic and the politics around that being increasingly heated. Screaming parents in a school board meeting will be minor compared to what might be in store for us. As my previous post in this blog suggested, things could possibly get more violent and disruptive in our society as a result of our next two elections. I am not ready to suggest some end-of-the-country Armageddon-lite scenario… but if the nation enters a period where regional violence occurs it can affect the distribution network locally, or even nationally, causing supply delays. It’s not that we can’t make what we want, it’s all about delivering it to our stores for us to buy. If there’s regional violence people may find going to work as being too risky, forcing delays in goods and services similar to the Covid lockdown. Trucks on the highway, the rural sections of the interstates, could become vulnerable to being stopped or attacked or hijacked. My point being is that we cannot and should not discount civil unrest as being a possible threat to the distribution network. I’m not in the least talking about a Hollywood-type apocalyptic scenario. Simply put, stop the trucks and the grocery shelves go bare. Interrupt the Internet the same thing results because our economic culture is so tied to this computerization. Think of national threats as our vulnerability as a nation.
Ok.. we have all these threats.. now what? Here’s some useful tips to deal with shortages.
I am not suggesting everyone turn into some kind of urine-drinking survivalist stockpiling freeze dried food and ammunition for the family AK-47. No need to go that far. As we’ve seen in our past national history, urban rioting and civil unrest tends to be regional, and relatively disorganized on any national level. Over time it soon ebbs. While a next era of civil unrest could be far worse, it likely will not be catastrophic (we hope). I am not even thinking about any loss of utilities or water to the home. That’s all apocalypse preparation. This is not that at all. The whole idea of family preparedness in these situations is simply to adjust your needs and purchases to buy time to allow distribution channels to get to normalize. Try and think ahead regarding what you really need and how much of it you should get in advance of needing it. If we presume to think that our utilities will be fine then don’t avoid buying food that needs refrigeration. Yet, if you live in an area subject to the threat of weather extremes or quakes taking down the electric power, get a generator to help keep the fridge running. I personally might plan for at least 30 days out at a time.
On a very basic level think family… and not just your immediate family. Work together and get yourselves organized on spreading out the purchasing of needed items. Have each family member make a list of personal items they want, then a list of their residential group needs. Compile the lists to product categories, then assign family members to specific categories to scour the local stores at various times. The idea is that one person is not alone in trying to remember everything, but preferring each having to watch for specific items and purchasing right away. Remember to pay particular attention the the elderly family members who can’t get around. This works similar if you live in a neighborhood of trusted friends who can do the same thing. If one neighbor is buys the paper goods like paper towels and toilet paper, and you buy the cans of Beef-a-Roni, then use bartering instead of money. (How many cans of Beef-a-Roni are worth a roll of toilet paper.. or, the other way around? Sounds like timing is everything on that deal.)
My entire point with this post is simply to emphasize the urgency and need for simple preparedness to meet some of these possible threats to the nation’s ability to keep the stuff we need on the shelves. Keep in mind these distribution delays can include more than one of the reasons outlined here. The passing of time should work these delays out… very generally speaking. Remember the Boy Scout motto.. Be Prepared! (…and follow the media)