Unpacking the Port

I hate silliness – bureaucrats wielding power arbitrarily, ignoring consequences, etc. – ask me about our local Home Owners Association, for instance. But this Instapundit link is to a great, productive, tactful moment when analysis, persuasive writing, an understanding of his audience and human nature wielded the power of a leader, appropriate to such rare skills. Many of you (esp. Dan) have a better appreciation of the common bottleneck but even I can see this “impactful” (an ugly word but so appropriate here) of Peterson’s skill. Of course, why this is a “temporary” fix is another question. And why libertarians have a point about minimal control and why a disproportionately (well, disproportionate to the American tradition) strong state often stifles free enterprise.

2 thoughts on “Unpacking the Port”

  1. I believe we are seeing the birth of a false narrative that will soon be lauding the visionary leaders of Long Beach for bravely bucking public sentiment to “solve” this problem.

    The truth is, there are pretty good reasons that containers just aren’t going to be stacked more than two high outside of the port and especially reasons, having nothing to do with aesthetics, that they shouldn’t.

    Empty containers only can be moved with a forklift, a very big and expensive forklift. A forklift capable of stacking them more than two high has to be even bigger and much more expensive and are rare outside of the ports. The alternative is a crane which is also expensive as well as slow. Again, dedicated equipment exists but are in the ports and not portable.

    Now, why they shouldn’t want to. Empty containers are at the same time big and heavy, around five tons and big and very light at around only five tons. When they are stacked on a ship, they are locked together at each corner with the lowest locked to the ships structure. The stacks are further tied to each other from side to side and diagonally since the aspect ratio in that direction is very unfavorable to stability. Or at least they’re supposed to be. They are regularly damaged and lost to high seas and high winds. Terminals where they are regularly stacked six or eight high are periodically devastated by high winds that can topple stacks of even loaded containers. Certainly, you need to consider seismic risk in California as well.

    I would be surprised if more than a vanishingly small number of containers ever make it above two high outside the port.

  2. In the ordinary run of events, “pretty good” reasons for doing things are good enough. During unusual events, there may be very good reasons for doing other, riskier, things. I would very seldom want a hole in my throat but there are circumstances when a tracheotomy would be appropriate.

    Port operations now are choked, the pipeline is plugged, and the usual balance of compromises among all stakeholders is leaving nearly all, unsatisfied.

    Time to do some things differently.

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