by Robert M. Traxler
A man ran a red light last week and hit my car, totaling it. Hats off to the American auto industry; we were hit in the side at 50 miles per hour. The gentleman who hit us said he had speeded up to try to make the light. He also told that to the police officer — I do not know if he was brutality honest or not too intelligent, confessing to running the light and speeding.
We were a bit bruised, but overall, just fine. The two-year-old car with 8,000 miles on it was totaled. It brings the news to your front door when it directly impacts you; I am looking at new vehicles (I am partial to American made), and the shortage of microchips (primarily coming from Asia) is limiting the production of vehicles, has run the cost of cars up and availability down.
Darnn near everything we use today is dependent on micro-chips and micro-processors; heck, we have a plug-in air freshener with a micro-chip. All vehicles built before 1987, to include the agricultural equipment needed to produce our food, police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, sewage pumps, medical devices, even thermometers for home use and most things we use on a daily basis are dependent on an electronic chip. We are totally dependent on our cellular phones, made primarily in China or with components made in China; cut off the supply of chips and we are swimming in crap.
This is one example of the dependence we have on a supply chain in the hands of those, some who are belligerents, halfway around the world. The majority of micro processors come from Taiwan, a nation that may be invaded by China any day now. Even if China does not invade the main island of Taiwan, there are many smaller islands that could be used in the same way the Nazis used the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia — as precursors to a larger war and then the invasion of Poland.
The Japanese Imperial Army invaded Korea and China as a precursor to attacking Pearl Harbor; China may just repeat history and seize smaller islands around Taiwan. The problem is that before World War II, we were dependent on Asia and Europe for very little, rubber and some antibiotics, along with a few machined items. If we remove Taiwan and China from the supply chain today, we are in deep feces; our economy and indeed our health care system are dependent on those two nations for components that manufacture drugs in general but antibiotics and electronic components of medical devices in particular. We witnessed a shortage of medical masks in the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak, masks made mostly in China; substitute pain meds and antibiotics for N-95 masks and consider that for a minute or two.
I am sure the detractors of this column will state that the problem today is in offloading ships and a shortage of truck drivers — no questioning that. However, if the ships were not there to off load it would be a larger and longer problem, fatal to our economy.
If we were dependent on other nations for designer clothing and shoes that’s one thing; our economy being dependent on China for life saving medicine, medical devices and electronics is potentially a disaster we must prevent.
Communications with car dealers and manufacturers tell me that the make and model of vehicle I want will be available in March or April of 2022. Not the end of the world, an inconvenience at best, but an eye-opening lesson our nation must face; having our economic survival dependent on a nearly 7,000-mile supply line to a belligerent nation is a recipe for disaster.