Psaki jokes about supply-chain problems: "The tragedy of the treadmill that's delayed"

A member of my family can’t bear to watch her daily briefings, finding her too condescending.

I can’t imagine why.

It’s a reporter here who brings up treadmills offhandedly as one of several examples of a good that’s suddenly hard to come by. I think she’s mocking him for choosing what’s essentially a luxury item to illustrate the plight of Americans who are suffering from supply-chain disruption.

But given the official White House line that inflation caused by supply-chain issues is a “high class problem,” I don’t know. Maybe she thinks complaining about scarcity is worthy of mockery in itself.

How about the tragedy of food that’s delayed? Can we complain about that?

Saffron Road, a producer of frozen and shelf-stable meals, is holding extra inventory, keeping about four months of supply on hand instead of the typical one or two months.

“People are hoarding,” said CEO and founder Adnan Durrani. “What I think you’ll see over the next six months, all prices will go higher.”…

“The challenges in the supply chain continue to be issues such as driver shortages, labor and congestion at the ports,” [Land O’Lakes] Chief Supply Chain Officer Yone Dewberry said in an email…

Labor issues are also roiling the meat supply. Plants are running but not at full capacity due to a lack of workers and truckers, Meyer said. The problem is so bad that at least one U.S. meatpacker has tried to lure new employees with Apple Watches.

Farmers are so worried about having the equipment they need to harvest crops that 10-year-old tractors are selling for higher prices at auction than they were brand new a decade ago. That’s partly because John Deere workers are on strike and no one knows how long when they’ll be back on the job, turning out products. If the strike drags on for months, harvesting could slow down. Suddenly we have another disruption to the food supply. What’s our union-friendly Democratic administration planning to do to try to avert that?

Supply problems don’t show up exclusively in the form of missing goods either. Sometimes you simply get less of what you want — while paying the same price as before, a type of “hidden” inflation called “shrinkflation.”

Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky, who has followed the phenomenon he calls downsizing for quarter of a century, says he has identified dozens of products in recent months that have seen sneaky price increases.

He found goods ranging from Charmin toilet paper rolls to Cheerios cereal, to Royal Canin canned cat food, where the size or weight has shrunk, but the price remains the same…

“It’s definitely more insidious because shrinkage, at least for me, is less noticeable than a price increase,” Jonathan Khoo, 44, a software designer in Oregon, told AFP.

We can banter about the effect that rising COVID cases or disgust at the botched evacuation of Kabul had on Biden’s falling approval rating but I suspect the long slide he’s seen with independents is being driven by kitchen-table issues like the supply chain and rising prices. It’s simplistic to believe that indies are more “apolitical” than Republicans or Democrats since they usually lean towards one party or another; in fact, some may have gone indie because they’re *so* ideological that they find the party on their side of the aisle to be too squishy to join. (See, e.g., Bernie Sanders.) But it must be that the sincerely centrist swing cohort among indies is bigger than it is within the two parties. And that cohort is doubtless more responsive to “results” on policy than more ideological voters are.

Well, look at the “results” they’re getting. They’re paying more for the stuff they want and they’re getting less of it, assuming they can find it at all. And the White House’s reaction is to crack jokes about treadmills and try to dump another few trillion dollars into an already overheated economy. Biden should be grateful that he’s still above 40 percent approval. For now.

Here’s a nice primer from CBS about what the average company is dealing with in terms of inventory. The problem isn’t so much the actual supply of goods as getting available goods from Point A to Point B amid COVID lockdowns and/or energy shortages, workers getting sick or having to quarantine, labor agitation a la John Deere, and lingering unemployment in key industries as some employees take advantage of a tight labor market to look for higher-paying or more fulfilling work. The food is out there. The trick is getting it from the farm to the supermarket.

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