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Published May 25, 2021

In 2021, there is no shortage of shortages

By John Toth / The Bulletin

The year 2021 will go down as the year of shortages.

Want to rent a car, buy some lumber? Sorry. Whatever is available is priced three times what it used to be, or even higher.

I read a report that in Hawaii car rentals can be as much as $700 a day. That is crazy. People are renting anything they can find, including U-Haul trucks.

I can just see loading up the family in a truck. “Hey, kids. Get in the back and hold onto something. We’re driving down to the beach.”

There is a lot of room in the back for the kids to stretch their legs out - or run around a little.

If I am going to Hawaii, the last thing on my list would be to rent a car. I’d be going from the resort to the beach and back.

I’m glad that I’m not building anything right now that requires buying lumber. Prices have skyrocketed. Some house construction costs are going up by $35,000 because of the increasing lumber prices.

I guess gone are the days when the lumber was just stored at construction sites. Now they are bringing it in Brink’s armored trucks.

It seems like everybody is jumping on the shortage bandwagon. There is probably a shortage of bandwagons also.

“How to prepare for an aluminum can shortage,” was the headline I bumped into recently. I really don’t want to prepare for it. We can always switch to plastic, unless, of course, in the shadows of 2021 lurks a plastic shortage also.

CNN: “Signs all point to a gasoline shortage this summer.” Now this is more serious, since we can go without lumber and rental cars, but we need gasoline for summer fun trips.

It’s almost like when one news outlet finds a story about a possible shortage, all the others start one-upping it by finding their own shortage stories that are worse than the earlier reports.

A gasoline shortage should catch everybody’s attention, so it needs to be one-upped. But how?

Car and Driver: “Next up, possible tire shortage.” Well, that takes care of that. Even if we can find some expensive gas, we’ll have to drive around on bald tires for a while.

Let’s just relax at home by that brand new pool. But it’s all discolored and murky because there is a chlorine pellet shortage. It’s a good thing I don’t have a pool.

I made the mistake of putting into the Google search engine the word shortages. There are 172 million pages of it (no shortage there), but I stopped at Page 2.

Computer chips shortage is mentioned the most, while nursery and landscaping shortages the least - on those two pages. That’s my limit.

Apparently, the big freeze that created money shortages for many of us froze a bunch of plants in nurseries, and people are having a hard time decorating their yards. My big yard problem is mowing it. I always run short of time when it comes to that.

Another scary article: “Supply line snafus are causing U.S. coffee supplies to shrink fast, and wholesale prices are jumping as a result.”

We have lived through this before without much damage. I’m glad I let all the caffeine exit my fatty tissue cells over a decade ago and don’t have to worry about this one. It took two weeks and a lot of afternoon headaches, but I did it.

I have not come across any scary stories on toilet paper or paper towel shortages yet, but we learned how to handle that in 2020 - hoard.

Last winter has created another shortage fear in Texas, and we didn’t need the media to hype this one - the electricity shortage.

The chapter of this shortage is still being written in the Texas Legislature. It is still being paid for by homeowners like myself, who are running a little short of patience.

As these shortages are taking place (or are created), they also are driving up consumer prices. Some call it the law of supply and demand; others call it cashing in.

That could spark the mother of all inflations, the likes we have not seen since the Nixon era, which he tried to fix with price controls - which didn’t work.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)