OK, the race is still on. In last week's column, we got into discussing how screwed up our side of the supply chain is, which is part of why store shelves are emptying. And began talking about how much worse it is in China. Which is important because we do not really make anything tangible here anymore. We either import it from foreign countries, mostly China, or we assemble them from parts we import from foreign countries, mostly China. Today we will continue with that.

We are fortunate that the regime in DC only did a few things in the last four days since I sent in my last column (this is being written starting 10-8-21) that I have to mention first. The first involves the mandate that all government employees be vaccinated against Covid. The deadlines are running out and people are being fired. It seems that there are a whole bunch of people who refuse. And there are grounds that are valid. First is religious. Some few faiths do not believe in modern medicine (Christian Science comes to mind). But most of all, there are those who do not believe in abortion as a matter of faith. All three vaccines used fetal cells from aborted babies in the research for them. Second, there are those who have already had Covid. The government has admitted that the immunity from having had the disease, (which can be easily proven or disproven with a simple antibody blood test) is stronger than that from the vaccines. Repeated doses of the vaccine can possibly cause some nasty reactions or death. The government does not care. “My body, my choice” apparently only applies for abortions.

In any case, it seems that 10-30 percent of government employees are saying no. In Democrat jurisdictions, that is getting dicey as a lot of them have been losing police, firefighters already, and now will lose a lot more plus doctors, nurses, and EMT/Paramedics. In Seattle, they have lost half their police force in the last year. As of tomorrow, they are going to lose 1/3 of those remaining. Same thing is happening all over the country. Not exactly a smart thing to fire those who have been keeping people alive for the last couple of years when they cannot be replaced.

(Emergency Addition: As I said, I did the above on 10-8-21. Today, 10-9-21, I got more news about the mandatory vaccinations. They have absolutely no force of law at all. A month ago, Joe Biden made a statement in a press conference ordering all government employees to get the Covid vaccination whether they wanted it or not on pain of their jobs and other government benefits. Democrat state governments followed suit.

Joe Biden is not Caesar. He cannot rule by decree. Under Federal law, Executive Orders, etc. have to be written, signed and properly filed. The FEDERALIST, which is a Left-leaning publication, surprisingly discovered and reported that nothing but the oral order to the press was done. All the compulsion, the firings, etc. are illegal and dictatorial (in the literal and rhetorical sense of the word), unconstitutional (due process) and have no force of law. This apparently was done deliberately. You cannot sue in court to have an order overturned unless there is a specific, written and duly registered order to sue against. There is no such order, so opponents are barred from any appeal. Biden is literally being a dictator. I am sending this news to the CRUSADER today so they can do something between now and the late October appearance of this column if they desire. Here is the link to the news: https://thefederalist.com/2021/10/07/joe-bidens-vaccine-mandate-doesnt-exist-its-just-a-press-release/

Another thing being done. Merrick Garland is our Federal Attorney General. His daughter and son-in-law are publishers of school materials on what is called Critical Race Theory, which the Democrats are pushing to be made mandatory in all schools nationwide. Which means his family profits from it. Critical Race Theory claims that all White people are at fault for all the evil that has happened to non-Whites, past and present, and have to pay penance forever. This has not gone over well with parents who are White (and a lot of non-Whites who believe in this country and equality before the law). When school boards vote to adopt CRT, the parents are at the public meetings for the votes. And in the portions of the meetings for public comments, they are not reticent about expressing their opposition. No violence, no threats; but definite opposition.

On Wednesday, Oct. 6, the reaction of Merrick Garland was to direct the FBI to investigate the parents for possible “domestic terrorism.” They cannot protect the border, catch terrorists or make sure that vote fraud isn't happening. But they sure can threaten parents who are exercising their rights of free speech towards how the school board is educating their children. In a very real sense, the school boards are the employees of the parents, not their rulers. We have not heard the end of this, and I expect that Federal law enforcement is going to be intruding more and more on the rights of Americans. Keep an eye out.

Finally, something that goes back to China, and may end up affecting the supply chains we will be talking about. The newest class of nuclear attack subs we have are the SEAWOLF-class. Yesterday, (Oct. 7) news came out that SEAWOLF-class sub, USS CONNECTICUT (SSN-22), had had a submerged collision in international waters in the South China Sea on Oct. 2. Two things. First, take a look at the South China Sea on a map. And compare it to the shipping lanes to China. Second, that part of the ocean has been pretty well surveyed by our Navy as we basically lived there during the Vietnam War. I could be wrong, but I don't think that there are undersea mountains in the area we don't know about. And none have grown there since 1975.

I suspect that either we were trailing a Chinese submarine or it was trailing ours. Either way, when subs are trying to trail each other, the goal is to be in the passive sonar dead spot behind the one being trailed. Which is real close, and involves maneuvering akin to silent dogfighting deep underwater. Whatever caused the collision, 11 of CONNECTICUT's crew were injured. Our sub had to proceed on the surface to Guam, where she is safe now. But it is something else to keep a weather eye out for.

Now back to the surface shipping problems between the U.S. and China. Our ports are screwed up as I have noted. Normally, with a full crew each berth in each port can unload and reload 3 container ships a day in a highly automated computer controlled process. Last I heard, it is taking 5-6 days per ship, once they get a berth to tie up to. And it can take up to a couple of weeks waiting offshore to get a turn at a berth. When the ships are unloaded, the full containers are backed up filling the holding yards because the trains and trucks aren't there to move them to their destination. Which empties warehouses and store shelves. The empty containers we normally ship back to China (they get re-used several times before they start leaking too much) are stacking up. Last night, I was talking to a friend who lives in Houston (which is a major container ship port) and he says that there are empty containers everywhere, and you can get new ones with only one, one-way voyage to Houston real cheap.

We are in bad shape. China, which ships us all the goods that fill our stores and supply or factories, is in catastrophic shape. They have ports where their own automated, computerized machinery loads and unloads ships. But they have staffing problems similar to ours as far as inability to move cargo once ashore, they have Covid far worse than ours; their government has imposed quarantines on ships using their ports, and they have lost reliable electric power both in the ports and in the manufacturing regions of the country. Hard to run a modern manufacturing economy in the absence of electricity.

Let us start with the quarantines. China is requiring proof of negative tests for all ship's crew, vaccinations, and/or no contact with shore other than the ports of origin and the Chinese destination, along with waiting periods before they were allowed to dock. Depending on which Chinese set of rules they fall under, they can be forced to wait for up to six weeks before getting in line to wait for a berthing space. And a delayed unloading-loading process like here. Six weeks plus days at the berth if they get right in (which they don't). Say it is seven weeks.

How long does it take to sail a container ship from say Shanghai to Los Angeles? How about 15 days? That means at least more than three times of the sailing time is spent waiting for a chance just to get in line to unload and load without accounting for the time waiting in line, at the China end alone. That has both implications and effects. The most immediate effect is what it costs to ship each and every container from China to the U.S. In January 2020, the cost per container for such shipment, according to the Baltic Dry Index (The standard shipping cost measure. Yes, I look around in strange places.) of shipping costs was roughly $1,700. As of a little over a week ago, it cost just under $12,000 for a single container and the trend is still upwards. You can bet your most favorite body part that even as late as all shipments are, this is reflected in the prices of the goods. Which means that we are starting to get into the territory where costs are going to affect import orders and product availability here.

There is another problem that causes delays. Remember I said that every shipping container, and every bit of cargo inside every shipping container is tracked by computer programs on both ends. And every container goes into a known and assigned slot on the ship with the loading and unloading meticulously pre-arranged on both ends. If things are screwed up on shore, either because the factories, trucks, trains cannot get a container to the right place at the right time, or because they have had to stash the container in a large yard full of piles of containers because the ship was waiting offshore for a couple of months; then it might not be there to be loaded. If that happens enough times, the ship will be short of cargo and will not leave until it gets to somewhere near a full load. Which means the ship is even later coming to the U.S., and more and more containers are not being found in time to be in the ship they are supposed to go to. Delays and higher costs.

I have to stop now due to length. I will try to pick up early again, and explain more about how things are screwed up in China affecting us.