Five years and counting …

Five years ago today we sat down to write our first commentary. We called it “The Rusty Chain”, and we posted it on September 29th, 2004. We began that commentary by repeating what Angus Cooper had said a few years earlier. “Trade within the United States, both that of domestic and international goods,” he said, “is dependent on the transportation system.”

Angus was right. Problems with the transportation system – the supply chain – were on everyone’s mind five years ago, and as we noted halfway through our commentary, “Nowadays the lines seem to be hitting brick walls everywhere. Could it be that the demanding American consumer is at fault,” we asked, “by requiring so many container ships to seek berthing in our ports?”

Now here we are, five years later, with the answer to our question becoming more and more obvious to anyone seeking the truth. The “demanding American consumer” was indeed at fault for the ever-increasing volumes of foreign-made goods hitting our store shelves. More accurately, the American consumer was not “at fault”, but rather responsible for almost everyone’s economic good fortune in that happy period – and especially those concerned with container ship operations.

We know now – or at least we’re beginning to realize – that the American consumer is responsible not just for the rise of fortunes but also for the fall of fortunes throughout the world. How stupid we were not to have anticipated the consequences of allowing American jobs to be shipped overseas.

Not since the 1930s has this country seen such sad economic times. There was an end to the Great Depression, fortunately, and there are those who are now pointing to another “recovery”, a “bottoming out”, a “jobless recovery”. But they know better. They know there is no way we can pull out of this 21st century economic tailspin. A “jobless” recovery? Those economic gurus are either in a fog or they’re stalling for time hoping to find an answer. But nothing will reverse this plummeting economy until the “demanding American consumer” has some spending money, and that can happen only when paycheck-generating jobs are created for that army of erstwhile shoppers.
Our present administration and its many advisors, however, can’t find a way to create employment opportunities in this country. None of the earlier administrations could either. They were all quite expert at creating jobs in overseas countries, though. It was easy – they just had to ship out our technology. Low wages to foreign workers then proceeded to put us out of business.

But everything that goes around comes around. Without the “demanding American consumer”, there is no call for those foreign-made goods. And when demand is not forthcoming, neither is supply. Overseas factories are shutting down as a result, putting millions out of work and hundreds and hundreds of container ships in mothballs. Once-bustling container yards are now strangely silent, highway congestion is just a memory, and no relief is in sight – because our leaders feign ignorance.

It’s true. The Great Depression finally came to an end, but it took massive Emergency Shipbuilding Programs to bring about that end. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows that.