Column By Mike Bibb
When ordinary things are no longer ordinary, it sort of ruins my whole day.
While returning from a day trip to Tucson, my wife and young granddaughter detoured into Willcox to fetch a few ice cream treats at the local Dairy Queen.
Something we’ve done several times before.
Pulling up to the drive-in window, the store attendant – who happens to own the franchise – inquired what we would like to have.
A usual order of business; a clerk asks what a customer wants and the customer responds accordingly. Nothing uncommon about this. Happens millions of times a day, in every part of the country.
Except this day, in Willcox, Arizona.
“We’d like one small twist in a cup with sprinkles and a cherry on top. Also, two additional small twists in a cup with sprinkles, please,” I replied, confident our order would soon appear at the serving window.
Unexpectedly, the owner informed me she couldn’t make any twists or top them with cherries because her supplier couldn’t fill her order because they didn’t have any of those things, either.
Actually, she said she’s been receiving only about half of her orders lately and had no idea when the shortages would end.
From the tone of her voice, I could tell she wasn’t very happy with the situation. Operating a seasonal business – closed for a few months during the winter – she depends upon robust spring-to-fall sales to carry her through.
When she cannot get products, or her orders are limited, obviously it negatively impacts her sales.
Admittedly, she didn’t really know what the problem was but it started several months ago. Like many things currently gone haywire, she suspected COVID or COVID-related issues.
Why would ice cream products be impacted by a human virus? Have cows suddenly dried up, limiting the availability of dairy products? Have makers of all the goodies added to ice cream been compelled to reduce volume? Maybe production and transportation issues are the problem?
Actually, all the above.
Take a look around, what do you see? “Help wanted” signs everywhere. From restaurants to manufacturing facilities, to store clerks, to “We’re Hiring Drivers” notices on 18 wheelers traveling the Interstate Highways, big companies, and mom and pop businesses are desperate for workers.
As a result, if there’s a shortage of people willing to do the work necessary to produce, deliver and sell a product, then there will eventually be not as much of it available to the public.
Store shelves will be noticeably less stocked with previously available goods.
Shrinking inventories of automobiles at local car dealerships are a glaring example. The primary issue may be different – computer chip shortage – but the basic principle is the same. Fewer workers mean less production capacity. When less product is made, fewer workers are needed. On and on . . .
Like a cat chasing its tail, the cycle continues until fewer businesses are around to furnish goods and services. Prices/inflation begin to rise and the customer is squeezed even more until Twist’s with Sprinkles, in the small rural community of Willcox, is becoming a scarce commodity.
This lunacy didn’t suddenly manifest itself in declining ice cream supplies. Supply chain disruptions have been increasing for a while. A wacky COVID-inspired government policy of closing “non-essential” business, while the big-box boys were allowed to remain open, was a beginning contributing factor.
Large chain stores – with greater purchasing power to resupply inventory – were not as adversely impacted by the economic downturn as the smaller businesses. Most Main Street shops do not have additional stores in other communities that can financially help share the burden of a shrinking business base brought about by having fewer products to sell.
Additional dopy rules and restrictions were added to the list until American businesses and customers were shackled with so many handicaps that the economy became seriously affected.
Eventually, the financial wizards in our government thought it was a good idea to provide more “enhanced unemployment benefits” than a person could make on the job. This nonsense has been going on for about 18 months and we’ve all seen the disastrous results.
Folks might not know how or why things have been upended, but they can easily figure out staying home watching endless hours of Netflix or playing video games – and getting paid to do it – beats working for the same or less money.
If you like what you see, then get used to it. This is the future of a socialist society and economy where the government is in control of the means of production and distribution and also decides wages and taxes of the workers.
Some will earn more, and many will have less, but the folks at the top of the food chain will have a lot more. After all, they’re the ones making the rules for everyone else to comply with.
They’re also the ones purposely lying to us about how great this con-game will be!