Industrial Distribution Update

For those not familiar, I own an HVAC distributor, and HVAC distribution is a subset of industrial distribution. Every few months or so during covid I have been putting up a post describing what is going on in my little slice of the world. Time for a new one.

In general, not much has really changed since my last update with one large exception. I will get to that in a minute here.

A few weeks ago I spoke with several people intimately involved with large companies in my industry and they all agree that we have probably another year of supply chain disruptions and problems. That wasn’t exactly music to my ears as the last year and a half has been an intense marathon trying to keep my buildings full of product that my dealers need. The reasons are everything that you have heard before here and on other media outlets – labor shortages, raw material issues and now, chip problems.

The chip problem could be a really big issue as those chips go into printed circuit boards that control furnaces – and we need furnaces now for Fall.

My one large exception mentioned above is that my inventory levels are absolutely enormous and we are setting new records daily. This is killing my turns and as a result cash, but this is the new model. We simply can’t predict when things will come in so we have to pile in sometimes a full years worth of a widget. We are absolutely bursting at the seams and it is extremely stressful trying to keep everyone happy. We don’t dare cancel any orders as we would go to the back of the line, so it is what it is.

Freight is a major issue right now. We get damage all the time and the LTL lines are all extremely slow and sloppy. Hardly a day goes by where we don’t have a freight problem.

Parts don’t really seem to be an issue. Sure, there are certain things that we have problems with, but in general the parts world is OK so there is that silver lining.

However, my dealers are pretty happy with all of the work we are doing. We are finding new business partners, trading product if possible, and/or doing anything else that it takes to get the product that we need. It is, as I mentioned, a never ending marathon but at least I am used to it now. I do hope for some normalcy in the next year so we can sell down some of this inventory and get back to normal buying patters and forecasts.

55 thoughts on “Industrial Distribution Update”

  1. Thanks for the updates. It’s very hard for us normals to gauge what’s going on. The “mainstream” media sources are completely unreliable regime propaganda. Then you have places like zerohedge that are nothing but constant apocalyptic doom-mongering.
    My big question still is how aggressive the government is going to get with their vaccine mandates. It seems to me that that has the potential to completely screw things up for absolutely no reason, if they persist at it.

  2. Had a bad fall almost two months ago and have been running into what I’m guessing are health care provider labor shortages. One-month lead time to see my GP, three weeks lead time to see a physical therapist. And when I get into the facility (Kaiser) the staff seems frantic, like they’re overloaded with work. I was going to mention it to my doc but he’s one of the frantic ones and I don’t want to piss him off, asking him questions about something he probably has zero power to control.

    Atlas is shrugging.

  3. Thanks, Dan. Your view from the front lines is much appreciated.

    “I do hope for some normalcy in the next year so we can sell down some of this inventory and get back to normal buying patters and forecasts.”

    Consider the possibility that we are not ever going to get back to “normal”.

    The unsustainable US Trade Deficit continues to get more & more unsustainable, month by month. Notice that for all the words spilled in Congress and the media about the US Debt limit, no-one in a position of authority has acknowledged that there is no way any of this debt will ever be paid back.

    While no-one can predict the details of how the inevitable collapse happens, we can make some guesses. Inventory is going to become increasingly valuable as the sources of supply cut out. Tools, machinery & knowledge which enable a business to repair broken equipment will become increasingly valuable — and may even become the seeds from which companies regrow after China decides it has no more interest in exchanging real goods for Bidenbucks.

  4. “Consider the possibility that we are not ever going to get back to “normal”.”

    This is part of our business plan moving forward for sure.

  5. I worked logistics for a large retailer until I was retired for medical reasons.

    Warehouses serve the supply chain in the same way that water towers serve your plumbing. And the term (and mental model) of a “pipeline” is one I prefer to the “supply chain”. The usefulness of the “chain” is that it emphasizes the dependence on the weakest link. But the usefulness of the “pipe” metaphor is the emphasis on clogs, bubbles, and leaks. We are looking at a collection of clogs. Behind each, inventory is building up; downstream of each we’re seeing painful frothy bubbles. Even when the clogs are cleared the pipeline will be hammered under pressure waves of wild flow.

    It seems to me (intuitively, not due to careful study) the UK truck driver shortage will be replicated in the US. The fat pipes for container ships feeding land bridge long-distance rail transport are/will be clogged and bubbled, and so the demand for expedited emergency LTL point-to-point truck transport will spike. I’m already seeing FedEx deliveries on rental Penske trucks. Getting trucks (not easy, but) may be easier than adding hours to drivers’ schedules (which are federally regulated) or hiring on new or recently retired drivers. (with CDL certification being another bottleneck). It MIGHT be that very small expedited loads will roll down to “Domino’s Pizza” style delivery runs in passenger vehicles with non-commercially licensed operators — except that Uber, Lyft, Diner-Dash, etc have already sponged up many of the potential drivers in THAT segment.

    And who will the experts blame in the US for a truck and driver shortage, given that we haven’t had a “Brexit”?

  6. One-month lead time to see my GP, three weeks lead time to see a physical therapist. And when I get into the facility (Kaiser) the staff seems frantic,

    I wonder if Kaiser is having trouble with employee vaccine mandates ?

    I called to make an appointment with a pulmonary doc I have seen before. That was a month ago. I was told he was booked up for the rest of the year. I am seeing a nurse practitioner tomorrow. My internist is an obvious Democrat and Covid hysteric. I prefer seeing his NP.

  7. “It seems to me (intuitively, not due to careful study) the UK truck driver shortage will be replicated in the US.”

    There has been a shortage of truck drivers in the US for some time. Sadly, I won’t be around to enjoy fully the coming driverless trucks.

  8. The congestion at the ports is a combination of the limited dock space in the ports, the limit on container moving capacity of the longshoremen (they are having difficulty getting enough workers), the lack of container chassis, congestion at the rail yards (again a volume and workforce constraint), AND a lack of truck drivers. The lack of truck drivers is going to affect everyone, everywhere eventually and there is no easy fix for it until more people enter the workforce. Rising wages have not helped.

    The only real long term answer is to re-shore production of some of these component items close to the final production. That will only take years.

  9. At a Dunkin’ Donuts a couple years back, a couple of guys were talking about the job change that one of them had recently made into long-haul truck driving. They seemed like friendly guys, so I joined the conversation.

    The guy who was the driver had previously been working in fast food, and was completely thrilled with his new career; trying to persuade the other guy to do the same.

    It does seem that a lot of people in low-paid & not-very-interesting jobs might find truck driving to be an interesting alternative.

  10. It does seem that a lot of people in low-paid & not-very-interesting jobs might find truck driving to be an interesting alternative.

    In particular, some trucks are equipped with sleeping facilities that allow married couples (or maybe unmarried as well) to take turns driving and avoid the time limitations on drivers.

  11. }}} We are finding new business partners, trading product if possible

    Anyone else besides me thinking of Radar O’Reilly, at this point?


  12. }}} And who will the experts blame in the US for a truck and driver shortage, given that we haven’t had a “Brexit”?

    Duh. “Trump”.

    }}} There has been a shortage of truck drivers in the US for some time. Sadly, I won’t be around to enjoy fully the coming driverless trucks.

    The fun part of this is that driverless trucks, with a limited constraint, are far from impractical. They could have solved ONE aspect of the transport issue a very long time ago, and that is interstate driving. Interstates are one of those places where almost none of the main “driverless” issues come into play. The chances of a child running onto the interstate is pretty close to zero. The chances of one doing so from behind a parked car, providing no visible warning, might as well be zero. And the final one, a small child running out from behind a parked car on one side, and a dog running out from behind a parked car on the other (thus a decision of “which small moving object to decide to hit”) is even lower… not the least of them because of no parked cars.

    Something like WAZE already provides ready warning of anything on the side of the road, plus many hazards (not 100%, but still pretty good), thus time to slow in advance, for care reasons, and greater “alertness” on the part of the AI driver.

    I believe we could long ago — at least a decade or two — have had automatic trucks running from specialized exits to specialized exits to do a lot of the real long-hall stuff, treating the interstate system not dissimilar to the railway system. The only real criteria here is “don’t hit anything.”, and there is very little which isn’t behaving in a moderately standard manner, just by the nature of the interstate system.

  13. }}} In particular, some trucks are equipped with sleeping facilities that allow married couples (or maybe unmarried as well) to take turns driving and avoid the time limitations on drivers.

    PLUS you can put any of your “stuff” into storage, and not even be having a housing payment, and REALLY be socking the money away… If you free-lance, you can likely also constrain when and where you go — kinda like having an RV on the cheap, while making money driving around the country. No, not exactly the same, but not dissimilar. A truck runs ca. 200k+ new with lots of gewgaws (i.e., beds) but you can also get used ones for more like 50k-ish, from what I just researched. So it can be a certainly lucrative way to get yourself into a good nestegg, I think.

  14. OBloodyHell wrote
    “The only real criteria here is “don’t hit anything.”, and there is very little which isn’t behaving in a moderately standard manner, just by the nature of the interstate system.”

    That does seem to be my impression most of the time when I drive cars on the interstate.
    I’ve only done a few thousand interstate miles in a 26′ box truck with trailer, but my impression is car drivers see a large vehicle, think ‘professional driver’ and thus think that they can do the most irrational and dangerous things in proximity to the truck with utter impunity.

  15. I wonder if Kaiser is having trouble with employee vaccine mandates ?

    The mandate kicked in on September 30th in CO so maybe. I’ve seen news reports that health care industry labor shortages are caused by burnout too. That is, everything was looking rosy until the Delta variant started filling hospital beds in August/September and workers just up and quit. Fortunately, hospitalization rates have dropped pretty quickly since then.

  16. If you think there will be a board shortage, the most important thing is to keep all the failed boards while you can get replacements. The chances are, most can be fixed for a buck in parts and the time of someone that knows how. Those parts won’t be the ones hard to get. Even heavily damaged boards can be organ donors after death.

    The reason you don’t do this now is that the board that the OEM charges $100 and you sell for $??? probably cost the OEM less than $5. The OEM isn’t going to rework them. On the other hand, a couple of weeks without heat makes paying some knowledgeable individual $100 to fix it infinitely more attractive than insisting on “new”.

    There’s a reason why every truck you see has a big sign on the back trying to recruit drivers. No matter what they promise, the companies treat their drivers like sxxt. Then there’s the base 80 hour work week with no overtime and often enough no pay for all the screwing around that takes up driver time. Then there’s living in a space about 8′ x 10 when the nearest restroom may be only 50 miles away. A married team means one is on the day shift and the other is on nights in that same space that wouldn’t be legal if it was a prison cell. Some marriages do survive. Some people love the life. obviously I’m not one of them.

  17. Dan from Madison, you must dread watching Charlie Shortino and his forecasts on Channel 15, at this moment in time.

  18. OBloodyHell
    October 5, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    I am not a truck driver, nor do I play one online, but your comments gave me an idea. Truly driverless trucks have some problems, and cause more than a little bit of panic among those who do not trust technology. And to be honest that lack of trust is not totally unearned. Having a person in the loop is a good thing.

    This is just off the top of my head, but I know that we have developed drone technology in 3D and it is common in military use. Those drones are frequently controlled from the US even in the Middle East. It is done by satellite in real time.

    We have driverless trucks coming on line with the problems mentioned. The variants I have heard of also have provisions for a human driver. SO . . .

    Take driverless trucks, and hook them into a simplified [it is only 2D and they should not be dodging ground fire] version of the controls for drones running speed, brakes, and steering. Like the drones have LED screens and instrumentation in what is basically an office building that drone operators work in with the ability to switch off operators for long missions; have cameras and telemetry feeding to the offices with controls.

    Between urban areas, have the software run the truck either until their destination or unless something comes up. Have a drone operator oversee the trip, taking over only when necessary. Since there are a limited number of interstate routes for trucks, each can be programmed for each specific run. If there are mechanical problems, pull it over the same way a manned truck does and send maintenance/tow trucks. If there are no problems, outside the destination city pull into a truck terminal and have a human driver take over for the final stretch where there are interactions with city traffic to where the truck is to be unloaded. Repeat the process with the next trailer load.

    Advantages: the office-based truck operators do not have to personally spend days on the road. They can work their 8 hours [and be decently paid due to their responsibilities], and go home, being replaced by another operator. This reduces the stress of over the road driving. And it has the same advantages as partner drivers in that the trucks can go almost 24/7 [minus fueling, checkpoints, etc.].

    The in town drivers will know the streets of the city that they are based in, and have the same benefits as local truck drivers.

    There is another benefit. Not long ago California tried to tax all long haul drivers [including owner operators] as California residents for their total income. That could not work to tax someone delivering in California who is based in say New Mexico.

    At first there would only be a few, but I suspect that more people will be willing to learn to be a drone truck operator than are now willing to be OTR truck drivers.

    I grant that there will be opposition. Technophobes and Leftists will dislike it because they DON’T want things to get better. Government bureaucrats will oppose it both because it is change which they hate, and because it is a whole new licensing system. And until they get used to it, passenger car drivers will be nervous about sharing the road.

    As I said, this is just off the top of my head, but it seems worth investigating. We have a far more sophisticated version of the controls used for drones that actually would have to be simplified. Anyway, I toss out the thought. If there are engineers reading who want to comment, I look forward to it.

    Subotai Bahadur

  19. @O Bloody Hell – I don’t think they have solved for snow yet with the driverless trucks either.

    @ScottTheBadger – Yes, this is not ideal for selling our cold weather items, but on the other hand the extra few weeks is helping us fill some holes.

  20. At some point, you have to ask “Why don’t they just put them on rails…?”.

    That’s what they’re basically re-inventing: Trains.

  21. CapitalistRoader
    October 5, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    I wonder if Kaiser is having trouble with employee vaccine mandates ?

    The mandate kicked in on September 30th in CO so maybe. I’ve seen news reports that health care industry labor shortages are caused by burnout too.

    Here you go.

    Kaiser is firing thousands of employees who refused vaccine.

  22. Where I live the hospitals have shut a large fraction of there ORs. My daughter works in food services at a hospital and says they lost a lot of their workers in that department and are severely short staffed. The media of course isn’t really covering any of this.

  23. The thing I can’t quite fathom is how the hell they’re justifying any of the firings when “the vaccine” is still experimental and you have to sign waivers to get it.

    Then, there’s HIPAA. How’re they getting around that, for hiring/firing?

    When all this gets done winding through the courts, there are gonna be a bunch of people with huge legal bills and indemnities over all of the crap they’re just hand-waving away. Which is just gonna be fascinating to watch…

    Someone is going to have to tell me for sure, but I don’t recall there being enabling legislation directly authorizing the Executive branch to even be doing this, in the first place. If I remember the way HIPAA was explained to me, there’s no provision in there for anyone but the patient to waive their privacy rights, and in fact, that was one of the objections an Army biowarfare guy had to the whole thing–He thought it would cripple epidemiology, as it was written back when. Did they ever fix that…?

  24. They’ve been claiming HIPAA isn’t an issue because they’re not asking your doctor for your info, they’re demanding it from you.
    Then what they’re doing is *saying* there is a government mandate, without actually implementing one. So companies are then mandating it for their employees, pointing to a government mandate that doesn’t actually exist. Sounds pretty fascist to me, but I don’t have a Political Science PhD, so who knows. At least when I get fired by December for not getting jabbed because the government pressured my company to demand it, I will be relieved to know that no mean tweets were involved.
    The whole point is to break down people’s resistance. If you have have a choice between a paycheck now and a possible legal victory in two years, most people are going to take the former.

  25. Gotta wonder what is going to happen once someone demands their employer sign an assumption of liability for taking the shots.

    The whole thing is a house of cards, based on a total lack of authority to do it all. The government cannot afford to assume liability for every corporation and company in the US, it’s still an experimental vaccine, and the whole thing is based on sheer intimidation. If they get called on it…? Gonna be ugly.

  26. I have seen some people claiming that the full FDA approval was given to “Cominarty”, which is a specific marketing of the Pfizer vaccine that is not actually available in the US. The Pfizer vaxx that is actually available is still under a EUA. So you can’t actually get the version that has full FDA approval. IANAL, so I have no idea if this argument holds water. Given that people are currently getting fired for not getting poked, I don’t think it much matters at the moment as far as the average person is concerned.

  27. Military drones (UAVs) have several advantages over remote-controlled trucks, mostly because there’s nothing nearby.

    A truck is seconds away from some idiot crossing 2+ lanes of traffic to hit an exit. The stopping distance of a well-laden swallow, err truck, is far longer than an average car due to mass.

    Apart from takeoff/landing (done by a dedicated pilot with a line-of-sight connection), drones have tens to hundreds of seconds before anything could really happen. Drones (and 99% of all planes) don’t fly thru thunderstorms or really inclement weather, but remote trucks might. Most of the bigger UAVs have one dedicated pilot per plane for hours on end, vs the timesharing proposed for remotely-driven trucks.

  28. The real-time guidance of a truck will need to be fully automated; it is not safe to count on a human driver taking over on very short notice. (This has been demonstrated even in the case of highly-trained airline pilots, for example, when the autopilot gives up and say, in effect, ‘Your airplane’ to the humans) Where I see the remote operators coming in is circumstances where the truck is stopped and doesn’t know what to do…for example, if police are stopping traffic, or there is a snow bank blocking the road.

  29. I would be supportive of driverless trucks if they were confined to their own lane on a highway. It seems to me that the ideal use of such vehicles is long haul trucking. Adding a lane to interstates for the driverless trucks would not be an unreasonable expense since large interstates like I 10 often have lines of trucks in the right hand lane and it is not unusual to find one slow truck passing another and occupying both lanes of the two lane interstate. Using their own lane would resemble train travel with greater flexibility when they reach a destination.

  30. Brian: “If you have have a choice between a paycheck now and a possible legal victory in two years, most people are going to take the former.”

    Does no-one in the Swamp pay any attention to reality? The third option will be to go to one of the less salubrious parts of town and ask for Jose. In exchange for cash (maybe even BitCoin?), he will provide an apparently valid vax certificate — along with a Social Security number and an apparently valid Green Card, if you happen to think that it will be better in the future to claim to be an illegal immigrant. USA — land of the entrepreneur!

  31. …“the vaccine” is still experimental and you have to sign waivers to get it.

    My employer sent out a mass email telling people the vaccine was now FDA approved, so everyone should go get it. I expect they’ll eventually get around to must, which will get them several vacancies they’ll have trouble filling. I’ll be wishing them well from somewhere else. But I actually think the person who wrote the email didn’t even know that the vaccine product available in the US hasn’t changed and is still the same item authorized under the emergency use declaration. That changes nothing btw.

    They’ve been claiming HIPAA isn’t an issue because they’re not asking your doctor for your info, they’re demanding it from you.

    This of course typical behavior of the regime. If these folks find a law they don’t like, they simply declare that it doesn’t apply or they won’t enforce it, thereby essentially repealing it. This also goes for the myriad regulations that the regime has declared are also law. They’ve decided that companies won’t get an OSHA violation if they mandate the vaccine for work and an employee becomes injured or dead as a result, despite what regulations say in written words. This is lawlessness as well as fascism.

    If they get called on it…? Gonna be ugly.

    They will get called on it, and it will be ugly.

    This is The Fourth Turning in action. The left is making mortal enemies out of some notable fraction of the population, and losing the support of another large fraction, by their actions of late. I imagine a sort of political support curve, similar to supply and demand curves from economics. Groups that used to be reliable votes for the demonrats suddenly aren’t, and people who didn’t like leftists but could be polite at Thanksgiving dinner suddenly won’t be.

    That’s my interpretation of events, which is of course only my opinion.

  32. In Texas, the mandate and vaccine passports are illegal. It then gets sort of interesting in terms of unemployment which is state controlled. If someone is fired without acceptable cause, the cost of paying unemployment is charged against the employer in future quarters. Hundreds of well paid employees will run up quite a bill. Then there’s ADA and HIPPA. IANAL either but I foresee employment lawyers having a busy few years.

    Some trucks now have adaptive cruise control that works by setting a supposedly safe interval. When I drove, the safe following distance was supposed to be 4 seconds. At 75MPH that’s 440 feet. You should try sitting in the right lane, trying to keep 4 seconds and count how many cars cut in front of you in a given time. Now imagine that every time this happens, the stupid cruise control hits the brakes. If it’s someone right on your front bumper, it will be very hard. On dry, good pavement, you may not jackknife if everything is working perfectly, anything else and you’ll make the evening news. Hope no one is driving beside that 50+ feet of trailer that weights 30 tons. If you pull this stunt with a driver, he’ll simply delegate the job of staying out from under him to you, that’s what windshield cams are for. The cruise control won’t. And that’s dead simple compared to the rest of keeping that truck out of the news.

    As Kirk pointed out, the problem was solved more than 200 years ago and it’s rails.

  33. New York state has said if you’re fired for not getting vaxxed you are ineligible for unemployment benefits.
    Meanwhile they’re increasing payments for illegal aliens.
    There’s going to be substantial domestic migration, if the system is lucky, and riots, if they’re not.

  34. Brian: “Meanwhile they’re increasing payments for illegal aliens.”

    Makes one think that maybe Caligula had a good idea when he made his favorite horse a Senator. At least the horse would not support screwing voting citizens while handing out money to non-voting illegals.

    Oops! Belay that observation. This is Democrat New York. Illegals can get as many votes as they wish.

  35. As Kirk pointed out, the problem was solved more than 200 years ago and it’s rails.

    But if you just use human-driven trucks when appropriate and trains when appropriate how will you be able to fire all those grubby truck drivers?

    Because I think that’s what this is all about. The ruling class hates typical Americans and seeks to punish and harm us in every way possible. They’re bitterly resentful that they have to pay someone so much money just to drive a truck, often more money than their hapless children get in the make-work bureaucratic jobs their masters degrees got for them.

    So my guess is that they’ll keep pushing for driverless trucks, never even considering anything like Subotai’s idea for human-supervised drone vehicles, regardless of any safety concerns.

    When the bodies start piling up, they’ll simply just declare the makers and operators of autonomous trucks immune from any consequences of their actions, just like the makers of the covid vaccines.

    That’s such an awesome trick I’m sure they’ll find many more uses for it soon, in many areas of life.

  36. Like I said the media blackout has been interesting.
    Before the mandate was in place, there were plenty of stories of local hospitals shutting down their ORs and other services. At my very small town hospital I saw a demonstration of ~50 people protesting outside–I assume most of them were actual employees?
    I know first hand knowledge that basic hospital functions are being severely impacted.
    And yet there have been zero local stories about what is going on. Just state-level stories with the governor saying how great things are.

  37. }}} @O Bloody Hell – I don’t think they have solved for snow yet with the driverless trucks either.

    Dan: Good point, but that at least releases drivers part of the time, depending on where…

    I also like Subotai’s middle-of-the-road idea : as for “nervous non-commercial car drivers”… just put lots of tint on the windows… :-D

  38. }}} Gotta wonder what is going to happen once someone demands their employer sign an assumption of liability for taking the shots.

    There’s a joke meme floating around with this on FB, which, of course, FB attaches a “Not accurate” warning… LOLZ. SMH.

    }}} Now imagine that every time this happens, the stupid cruise control hits the brakes.

    Don’t have to imagine this, I’ve seen it happen during lane changes with a normal rental car with that crap. Almost caused an accident, because I was actually maneuvering from the outside lane to an inside lane on a 3-lane (i.e., 6 lanes, 3 each way) interstate. I would not have moved into the lane because I would be cutting someone off, but I was ok with doing it briefly as part of a double-lane change (i.e., not a one-swerve, but a lane shift followed by another lane shift). Dumbass pos tried to slam on the brakes which would have been a major problem for the car behind me. The damned thing was more dangerous than free driving ever could be.

    Yeah, “Don’t use cruise control in traffic”… I wasn’t in traffic, there were just three cars, one moving very slowly, and two semi-but-not-exactly beside me, both of which were just barely passing the car ahead of me. The third (inside lane) was completely clear, so a smooth, but fairly quick, two-lane change was the right move, no need to brake or otherwise alter speed for any of the cars involved.

    That adaptive cruise control is borderline useless most of the time, but you can’t turn it off completely on many new cars, you can just “shorten” the distance, which is apparently based on the idea of “time to stop”, rather than “time for both to stop” — that is, I only need space to deal with my reaction time should YOU (ahead of me) start braking hard. I don’t need enough space between us to come to a dead emergency stop from the instant YOU start braking because YOU need time to stop, too. I just need time/space to REACT.

    This planet is covered with idiots. Too many “safety” features which interfere with basic functionality all the time any more.

  39. }}} I would be supportive of driverless trucks if they were confined to their own lane on a highway.

    Also confined to specific exits which were only for them… also doable. The counter-benefit for them would be that they could move to triples or even quads if they wanted to… there’s been a lot of resistance for triples on the roads, because of issues/concerns with them off the interstates, but if they had their own exits, they could be used to go between major points, and become almost a more flexible form of train.

    }}} As Kirk pointed out, the problem was solved more than 200 years ago and it’s rails.

    The problem with rails in transport is the same as buses vs. light rail in passengers. It’s a lot easier to build a fairly generic transport system than a specialty system, and there’s a reason buses are so much better as a solution than light rail. See Warren Meyer over @ CoyoteBlog’s comments on Phoenix’ light rail boondoogle.

    Rails are great when point-a-to-point-b is a long term, long haul. They are a lot less effective with variable traffic and many destinations… So using the roadways as an intermediary system has some major benefits over rail… this seems as though it would be true even if they were limited to major point-to-point usages and then breaking up the triples and quads to do the last 100 miles or so.

    Put the truck-train lanes on the inside lane, along with the exits, using an overpass to handle the exits for them on the insides, then no one gets to use the inside exits except the “Truain”… solves Nathan’s concern in one swell foop. The only place this clashes with are those which have set up an existing totally separate variable-direction express lane in the center, like Atlanta has along 75… And these things generally oughtn’t to be headed into those areas anyway, using the I-XXX circle routes if they are not at an endpoint.

  40. Just a data point on industrial distribution. My old truck needed some new spark plugs. No problem — drop into the auto store and pick up the correct good old American AC Delco spark plugs. In stock, but you know what is coming next! “Made in China”.

    Looks like the Taliban will not have any problems getting spare parts for all that military equipment Resident Biden* donated to them. China can ship them across the land border. On the other hand, US Marines sent to Taiwan might be out of luck keeping their equipment running if China gets shirty and stops shipping them spares.

    Our Best & Brightest have screwed up so badly! And nothing that Biden*’s handlers or Congress or the Swamp Bureaucracy is proposing to do will even scratch the surface of this existential issue. Future historians are going to describe this epoch as “American Suicide”.

  41. Mike K: “You are assuming there will be some [future historians]”.

    I am optimistic there will be future historians — we are looking at the demise of a civilization, not the demise of the human race. The interesting question is what language those historians will write in? Chinese looks like the way to bet, but there could be a good case for Russian or Brazilian Portuguese.

    Whatever the language, there will likely be big books comparing the American Suicide with the Peloponnesian War. Economic war versus kinetic war, but in each case the winning side was true to itself while the losing side first underwent civilizational decline. Feel free to argue!

  42. }}} Per Heinlein, the current times will just be known as “bad luck”…

    LOL, I just quoted the whole thing over on neneocon — she put up a good piece about NYC closing all their “Gifted and Talented” schools — and Art Deco jumped at me sneering about RAH being full of sh**.

    Not exactly clear on what he thought wasn’t glaringly applying here.

  43. }}} Our Best & Brightest have screwed up so badly!

    Yeeeah, I think they did that decades ago when they allowed PostModern Liberals to take over the educational and journalism establishments.

  44. @Gavin,

    Here’s a question: What do you suppose will happen when all the gods fail?

    You’re seeing it start to happen, in China. That little “issue” with Everdumber? That’s gonna reverberate, and with a set of effects that the current lot of CCP idioticrats aren’t going to see coming. They’re still operating on the basis that they’re dealing with traditional China, with big families that they can rely on to absorb human costs.

    Thing is, that set of underlying assumptions ain’t true, any more. Due to the brilliant “One Child” policy they were tricked into putting into place by that deliciously malicious set of Malthusians we had here in the West during the 1970s, they are now in a place where they can’t afford the casualties they’d accrue from any sort of military adventurism–They have no real national Social Security system that’s sufficient to substitute for the traditional parental duties imposed on the young, and if you kill off that one kid you allowed those folks to have, you’ve just managed to really piss off, motivate, and at the same time, destroy any ties they have to the system for a broad swathe of the population. The CCP may or may not realize this, but no matter what they think, China is essentially neutered in any real military sense. They can’t afford casualties, at all.

    Which is probably why all that money is going into strategic weapons, just like the Russians.

    I don’t get the pessimism, to be honest. I think that after this current set of idiots gets done discrediting themselves, then something else will supplant them. No idea what, but this is the United States: We route around dumbassery. Granted, this is a whole new level of it, but then again, it was due. The thing we need to do is work on spreading the word, and coming up with resilient “non-expert” systems. The death of the current approach is way overdue, and it’s current behavior is indicative of the fact that the people within it know that fact. They’re grasping for straws, attempting to remain in power, to keep the con going.

    The problem is, their manifest failures are making the con clear to the marks, and the marks ain’t happy. I hear more and more people around me waking up to this fact, and it’s a truly magnificent thing to observe a life-long Democrat disgustedly looking at Bidenco, Inc. , recognizing what’s been going on, and losing their shit over it. The expressions on their faces are what make it so worth doing, when you go to rub in Hunter’s little “art” sales, and all the graft that’s been going on as it comes out.

    Yeah, there are a bunch of apathetic sheepsies out there, but there are also a lot of them looking up, looking around, and going “WTF?”. That bodes well for the future, and poorly for the oligarchy. I had a conversation the other day with a guy working in manufacturing, and his comment was that his bosses are all in a panic over the impending losses from not being able to access China, Inc. affordably, any more, and how they’re all looking to buy or build plants here in the US. He was laughing, because he was telling them all about this back when he was in China as the QC rep for the company, and he predicted that something was going to go wrong with it all. The money men never saw it coming, though…

    I think there’s a lot more resiliency in the country than you realize, and that there’s going to be a period of readjustment when reality strikes a bit harder, then we’ll do just fine. I’m already hearing some of the local Democrats starting to wake up and smell the coffee, going to their local party leadership and raising hell. I suspect a bunch of them are going to be either Independent or Republican, before long.

    We just need to keep our heads above water, refuse to give in to panic, and be here to point the way forward around the dumbassery. Yeah, the schools are all pushing the ideology, but the real question is, how many are listening. It’s an echo chamber for the left; they think everyone agrees with them, because they silence all dissent. That leaves them high and dry when it comes to dealing with real dissent when it comes… And, it will. You really should get your ear to the ground, out there, and talk to a variety of people. You’d probably be shocked to hear some of the things you’re going to hear outside the “elite bubble”. People are getting pissed, and they’re seeing a clear connection between Bidenco policies and what’s happening with things like gas prices. They’re also recognizing that the whole thing is a choice, not a matter of impersonal “It just happened…”, and they’re really getting righteously angered. It’d have been one thing if Biden had stolen the election and managed to pull off a Kennedy deal, where everyone loved him and thought he’d brought about Camelot, but… This BS? LOL… Yeah, he’s gonna go down in history as having even more of a “reverse Midas touch” than Obama. We may even name it after him–The “Biden touch”, where everything he lays a finger on turns to shit.

  45. OBloodyHell: “Yeeeah, I think they did that [screwed up] decades ago”

    Definitely! There is room for lots of discussion about when it started to go wrong. When Lincoln refused to accept a State’s decision to leave the Union? When Wilson inveigled the US into World War I? We hit the downward path a long time ago.

    What that means is that getting out of this hole is going to be a long process too. The War of Independence ran from about 1773 to the 1873 Treaty of Paris — a decade. This struggle for freedom from out Political Class is going to last at least that long … once it gets going.

  46. Kirk: “What do you suppose will happen when all the gods fail?”

    Good question. There is no doubt that China and the US both have big problems, albeit very different problems. I would rather be playing China’s hand in this game than ours — but that is just me. Europe is history, Africa is a mess, and South America has its own self-inflicted problems. So, yes, it is entirely feasible that all the gods will fail.

    The peasant in Bangladesh growing his own food, making his own cloth may not notice when the gods get kicked out of Heaven. But we in modern society are so dependent on the efforts of others we will definitely notice! That is the price we will pay for the indisputable benefits of specialization we have enjoyed all our lives.

    There will be a triggering event — sometime. What happens after that? My crystal ball is too cloudy to say. I would guess we will see “islands” of interdependent survivors in favored areas with very hard boundaries and a distinct lack of compassion for those outside the boundaries. But we will see.

    OK — further guess. One of those “islands” will be West Texas — enough water for agriculture, oil & gas along with rapidly decaying windmills, and sufficient distance from major population centers to allow them to keep out/eject non-contributors.

  47. About the “approved” not-a-vax, it is not available in the US.
    It is available and being used in Israel, BUT that use is under an Emergency Use Authorization there.
    The FDA lied. And the Lie-den people continue to do so.
    IMO, a major reason to get the jab into everyone is to prevent them from suing for death, injuries, monetary damages, and RICO claims, which the Pharma industry and their employees in government might otherwise be liable.
    John in Indy

  48. I really do not see a general collapse in our future. What I do see is a collapse of the current system of systems, a die-back of somewhat epic proportions that’s going to take down the “elite”, because they’re steadily self-demonstrating a manifest incompetence and utter lack of something we really don’t have a word for, that would express “deserved power demonstrated through capability”. It’s the same thing that took down the Soviets, and which will likely take down the CCP; you can’t constantly be fscking up by the numbers and then casually declaring that everything’s A-OK, and what went wrong was someone else’s fault. And, when you’re trying to shift blame over onto half the country…? Yeah; that ain’t gonna fly, Beauregard.

    I think I’d worry more if there were fewer people that voted for Trump, but when they did what they did in 2020, it really demonstrated how weak a hand they had. Which they’re continuing to prove, on the daily: “Let’s Go, Brandon” ain’t a good sign for the regime or its supporters. Not when it’s being shouted out as much as it is, and where it is. The Gleischaltung ain’t taking.

    I have a feeling that there’s going to be an equal and opposite reaction to the whole thing, and it’s gonna be interesting. One has to remember, the takeover by the Nazis in Germany was very similar to what’s going on today, but the major difference is this: Things looked like they were getting better for the average German. So, the people who weren’t quite “on-board” with the whole program went along to get along, ‘cos things were generally getting better, so far as they could see.

    Bidenco? LOL… Everything they touch turns to shit, and nobody likes what they’re doing. How’s that gonna play out? It won’t look like they think it will, and it won’t “take”, either. You want to play the populist game, you’d better deliver populist desires, and I don’t see squat for that happening around me. Everyone has a sense of dread, and ain’t nobody daring say that “Biden knows what he’s doing…”. Even the Democrats I know who voted for him are getting buyer’s remorse, now that they see what he’s actually doing.

    I think the folks in DC are living on borrowed time, and they are beginning to realize it. They jump the tax rates the way they’re talking about, and we may see a bunch of politicians get their asses lynched when they go home to their districts. It will not be pretty, I guarantee that. I’m already hearing rumblings from people I never thought would be saying anything about it, and the disgusted refugees from that which was once the lovely city of Seattle around here are emphatic in their disdain for the disconnected dipshits that made that all happen. I think that the lessons may have finally penetrated some of these people’s heads, and turned them into something other than reflexive Democrats…

    Maybe. Dunno what’s coming, but I will confidently predict that the idiots in DC have no idea what is coming, either, and are gonna be shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out just how negatively they are viewed out in the so-called “hinterlands” they so disdainfully dismiss. People are getting pissed, and losing patience. I think that for the vast majority, whatever went on in the capitol region was only of minor interest; now that they’re getting their oxen gored by the idioticrats, they’re growing interested, and they don’t like what they see. At all. Engaging the attention of the vast uninterested middle is probably going to be the death of the Democrat agenda for this generation, and maybe personally.

    I heard someone I’d never have thought would say something like this, the other day–They referred to the Democrats as the “Crime Crew”, and talked about how they were a criminal conspiracy masquerading as a political party. This is someone who was an enthusiastic Obama voter, back in 2008. He still thinks Trump is a crook, but he’s now calling the Democrats worse, which is an interesting development.

    2022 is going to be a watershed election year, I suspect.

  49. Kirk: “disdain for the disconnected dipshits”

    That expression should be carved on rocks!

    Let’s hope that 2022 is indeed a watershed election year, but I have my doubts. The presence of Resident Biden* in the White House demonstrates that the Democrat Establishment can — and will — run election fraud on a very large scale, and without suffering any consequences, legal or otherwise.

    And we have to remember that the Establishment Republicrats held the House & Senate for the first 2 years of President Trump’s term, and spent most of their time undermining his agenda. Should we expect any different behavior if they find themselves in power after 2022?

    Democracy has failed. It can be repaired, but first the scum currently floating on the top of the democratic swamp will have to be swept away. And that won’t happen until after the Collapse.

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