Our short staffed supply chain is in high demand this Christmas


Noah Kalina/Flickr

It’s time to rethink how we ship, or shop, this season.

James Lacefield, Opinion Editor

The Omicron variant has arrived in the United States quicker than most of our Christmas packages, yet the White House still doesn’t seem to see the problem with our current supply chain crisis. Policy after policy is hindering Americans’ drive to get back to work and when it comes to an already labor-intensive industry such as postal services and parcel delivery, such out-of-touch politics are simply not going to cut it.

While I abhor the commercialization of Christmas, it is still the season of giving, and Americans are shopping online like never before. The ease of online shopping, coupled with the ability to shop from the safety of one’s own private space, makes scrolling through Amazon or any of the myriad other web-based stores quite a tempting option for checking off the Christmas list. Yet nationwide labor shortages, crippling gas prices, and ineffective policy from Washington has made even this a hassle. Simply shipping consumer goods has become so expensive in this economy that some suppliers are opting to simply not restock their prime seasonal products. SImilar woes are seen at the doorstep, where packages arrive days, even weeks later than their intended delivery date. While the holiday rush is bound to impact the shipping industry, as it has in every year past, this year is especially impactful for many American households.

On top of the gifts and Christmas essentials, Americans are increasingly being encouraged to shop for other essential and luxury items online, regardless of the season. Home deliveries have been ramping up throughout the course of the pandemic, and show no signs of letting up. Indeed, restrictions are evidently returning to American cities, further reducing our ability to shop local when we get the rare chance. With more Americans being forced inside their homes, and an astounding number of small businesses reducing their hours or closing entirely, even more of us are falling victim to the internet plague.

If, however, online shopping is becoming the only viable option for people across the country, it is unacceptable that the logistics industry is being left to fend for itself II have yet to watch a news cycle void of commercials from companies like Amazon or UPS quite literally begging for applications, as they continually up pay, benefits, and other bonuses offered toward new employees. Clearly, there is a shortage of labor, and in an industry, with no shortage of customers there is an ever-increasing gap in service.

Again, I despise the abuse of a beautiful and traditional Christian holiday by companies looking to make a quick profit. But, the fact of the matter is that Americans are purchasing goods online at a much higher rate throughout the year, and increased holiday sales are only highlighting the issues with our current system. The United States Postal Service continues to run a deficit, with experts projecting a nearly $10 billion loss in 2021 alone. Tangentially, in an ever-evolving and largely internet-capable nation such as the U.S., it may be possible to eliminate the Postal Service altogether, saving taxpayers quite literally billions of dollars every year. Everything from bills to campaign flyers, to coupons, could easily be delivered to Americans via the internet, not only eliminating government waste but reducing our reliance on paper products as well (a win for the environmentalists).

Meanwhile, private companies such as UPS, FedEx, and Amazon, provide such an essential service in the modern world that they essentially have an oligopoly on doorstep delivery. In a nation where industry thrives on competition, this simply can not stand. Rather than a few bloated companies that clearly do not care about the consumer (or, in some notable instances, their employees), we need more competition to drive the costs of shipping down. We currently have seemingly innumerable options of online items from countless manufacturers, yet these purchases are all funneled through a mere handful of carriers. If we really want to get our packages with enough time to put them under the Christmas tree, then we need options when it comes to delivery services.

It may be time for the government to put its power to good use for once in order to actually serve the people of the nation. Competition in the shipping industry should be promoted, and large corporations should be limited in both their power and reach, to ensure consumers get the best possible service for what they are willing to pay. However, as is evident by the utter mismanagement of the Postal Service and the current state of the consumer market, the government can’t even be trusted with such a simple task as getting Americans what they paid for.

If you are ordering goods online, I suggest you start sooner rather than later, and that you start holding both these companies and the government accountable for their combined efforts to evidently hinder the growth of the American economy (or better yet, shop local while you still can!).