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About a year ago, the new administration promised to solve our problems and lead us to a new golden era of peace and prosperity. Well, that certainly has not happened. Instead, our problems have only gotten worse and chaos is taking over our country. We have actually been left with empty shelves and panic-buyers as grocery stores from coast to coast experience massive shortages and consumers face acute price increases. Many are comparing this crisis to the Jimmy Carter era of the 1970s, but back then we did not have such widespread shortages. At this point, no one can deny what is going on. Even the Washington Post is explicitly saying that shelves are getting increasingly barer all across the country, and “social media is swamped with pictures of empty grocery shelves”.
Our new leaders have vowed to solve our supply chain problems, but the truth is that their measures have aggravated the situation. In a recent report released by FoxNews, shoppers described what they have been seeing at their local grocery stores and supermarkets. When one customer was asked about the empty shelves, his answer was extremely chilling and many of us will not forget about it any time soon: “It’s like a Soviet store during 1981. It’s horrible,” he said. Millions of grocery shoppers are finding depleted shelves when looking for everyday supplies due to supply chain issues, increasing numbers of infections and related disruptions as well as severe winter weather.
As the new highly contagious variant of the virus continues to spread and sicken workers, staffing shortages are being exacerbated in every corner of the nation, and critical functions such as transportation and logistics are being severely disrupted, which is consequently affecting the delivery of products and restocking of store shelves. Most stores are operating with less than their normal workforces, according to the National Grocers Association, and many of them have less than 50% of their staff members in their posts.
A big part of the Midwest and Northeast have been struggling with extreme weather and perilous commuting conditions. Meanwhile, grocery chains are alarmed about the new wave of panic buying that has been rippling through the country, so they have been trying to do whatever they can to keep it from getting worse, and many have been coming up with creative ways to keep supplies on the shelves. As food supplies get tighter and tighter, prices are going through the roof. Overall, grocery prices jumped by almost 7 percent compared to a year ago, marking the largest increase since 2008, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics index of prices. And for subcategories such as beef, prices skyrocketed by nearly 21 percent.
At least things are better in the United States than they’re in much of the rest of the world. For instance, in Cuba, residents are having to wait for hours and hours in line to be able to shop for some food. “I spent almost all night here just to buy something. It is not easy, it is a big sacrifice just to be able to eat,” shopper Edelvis Miranda, 47, told a local news outlet outside a market in Havana last week. The homemaker arrived at about 1:00 am, and finally left nearly 11 hours later, just before noon.
So we all must be thankful for what we still have. At this point, we can only hope for some short-term relief for the supply chain crisis, so that grocers can start to restock shelves while this new wave of infections fades away and warmer temperatures arrive. But none of this will keep inflation from continuing to spin out of control. As U.S. consumers try to keep making ends meet, they have now gone into more debt than ever before. Living paycheck to paycheck can bring a disturbing amount of uncertainty for millions of families around the nation, especially at times when economic conditions are rapidly deteriorating, and a financial collapse seems imminent.
The vast majority of Americans are not going to have any sort of a financial cushion to rely on when things start to go from bad to worse. And given that our population is certainly not “prepping” for the difficult times ahead, an unexpected and prolonged shortage of food would spark unprecedented chaos in this country very quickly. If you’re thinking that this is the worst that can happen to us, you may be surprised to see what is coming next. What we have witnessed so far is just the tip of the iceberg.