Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Supply Chains and Expectations


Your experience with supply chain disruptions and shortages depends on where you live and what you plan on buying.

My area of northern New Hampshire is a known food dessert in the best of times. It’s gotten worse. A few days ago the food section of the nearest Walmart was half empty. They were out of some very basic items like eggs. A much smaller store had them, but they get a lot of supplies from more local sources.

One underrated survival skill is the ability to cook a wide variety of foods. A good cook can take whatever is available and make something good tasting out of it. At one time I said, only half joking, that I did so much with so little for so long that I could anything with nothing. That goes for more than food, of course.

It’s been well publicized that there have been shortages of everything from computer chips, to foam to even lubricants. If you were shopping for a new vehicle or an RV you know all about it.

So what’s going on? Why are we so vulnerable to supply chain disruptions? Blame late stage Capitalism. Capitalism is very good at selecting more and more efficient ways of doing things. That’s great, but it comes at cost of making the whole system more fragile. For example just in time manufacturing is efficient because it eliminates the cost and expense of warehouses full of parts. Unfortunately, when there is a disruption the whole line shuts down.

Toyota is smarter than most companies. While they benefit from the just in time system, they don’t use it for all their parts. They’ve identified key parts, like computer chips, that need to stockpiled to prevent manufacturing shutdowns. It makes them a bit more resilient to fluctuations.

Going into the winter I’m planning having at least three, maybe four, ways of heating my house. Keeping warm is a basic need that I won’t gamble with. Do I expect heating oil and gas shortages? Not in particular, but it’s something that could always happen.



  1. Here in Upstate New York is bad too. No beef and empty shelves. I have a nice supply but wont last a long time.

    1. I've a local supply of beef and pork. It certainly ain't cheap, but it's good eating. Hope to get out and do some hunting this fall.

  2. Some of my best meals have come from fridge scrapings. I feel blessed to understand the art of kitchen.
    JIT methodology is not very flexible. One small glitch and the whole chain gets gummed up, as we are seeing.
    SixBears thinking is flexible, always having options.

    1. We have something we call "fridge soup." It's made from whatever is left in the fridge.

  3. Dang dude, thought maybe you'd got lost on that scooter. Was getting close to shooting y'all an email !
    Yup , JIT is certainly eating our lunch.
    Though , eggs aren't in short supply here. All eight hens are a pumping out butt nuggets , more than we need.

    1. It's been a hectic summer. Glad to hear from you too!

      Looks like the mom and pop store closest to me just closed. Nearest place to get a loaf of bread is now 5 miles away -or I bake it myself.