If you've spent much time on an island, you know how delightful they can be. Surrounded by water, often with sunny beaches. A great place to get away from it all.
The islands that I've been to most often are the Hawaiian Islands. A destination for honeymoons and corporate conferences. And I've been fortunate to attend more than a couple of those corporate conferences.
I remember one in particular. A group of us went out to dinner at a very upscale restaurant. One of the young ladies in the group decided to order Maine Lobster. Much to the chagrin of many at our table. We'd just come from the Northeast and couldn't understand why she wanted something from back home.
Unfortunately, the waiter informed her, that the boat from the mainland had not arrived. And they had no Maine Lobsters.
That's the way it is on an island. Supplies are limited by what can be shipped in. And in terms of food, at least in Hawaii, it is pretty easy to see what's grown locally. Plenty of pineapples, rice, and fish. Add a few other delicacies, like Macadamia Nuts, poi, and assorted other local dishes, and you've pretty much exhausted what is grown locally.
Menus become limited until the next ship arrives carrying supplies from the mainland.
That's exactly how America has become. We're an island. At least in terms of what we produce. Fifty years ago, we produced virtually everything that we consumed. Foreign goods were few and far between. There were many reasons for this.
For one, America had the most extensive factories in the world. When I was in grade school, it seemed like almost every study film, began with a series of photos of smokestacks, belching the smoke that powered those manufacturing plants.
Factories were a place of pride, back then.
Shipping was also expensive. Putting a virtual wall around the country. It was expensive to export goods into this country. And this kept much of the competition away.
To a large extent, those competitive advantages are gone now. American factories have largely been idled. Excessive regulation in the fields of environment, safety, and labor has made America non-competitive. With some of the highest cost of production levels in the world.
This combined with inexpensive shipping has swung the balance off-shore. It's now much cheaper to produce products overseas than it is here at home. Why do you think that Apple produces iPhones in China? Or does Nike make sporting goods across the Pacific?
So America has become an island. Waiting for our Ship to come in. Bringing the goods and materials we need to run this economy.
And here's the bad news. By my calculation in 6 or 8 weeks from now, we're going to have the last ship from overseas arrive to re-stock our supplies. After that, I'm afraid, we're going to be like the lady who orders Lobster. Sorry, but we've run out.
You see going on three weeks ago, the largest shipping port in the world, Shanghai closed down. Quarantined by the Chinese Authorities on the threat of yet another new infection of the Corona Virus.
I suggest that the best way to deal with this looming crisis is much the same as we used in Hawaii. Look around, and see what's made locally. What remains in abundance here. When ordering dinner in Hawaii, we decided to stick to local fish, rice, and pineapples. That sort of thing. And avoid the mainline steak and chops. And Oh, yes avoid the Maine Lobster.
Local became our byword.
The same will work now. If there's something that you know is imported, get it now, before it's gone.
But otherwise order locally. Not only will this tide you through. But it will also support our friends and neighbors who raise the local food, and the craftsmen who build here at home.
It is a wonderful opportunity to buy from our American Island.