Breadlines, the Big Book of Capitalism assured us, could not happen in a market economy. Supply would always rise to meet demand, as long as there’s money to be made. Only deviating from free-market fundamentalism—giving everyone health care, for example—could lead to shortages. Otherwise, capitalism has your every desire covered.
Yet we have breadlines in America today, or at least just off our coasts. They consist of dozens of ships with billions of dollars of cargo, idling outside the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the docks through which 40 percent of all U.S. seaborne imports flow. “Ships” barely conveys the scale of these giants, which are more like floating Empire State Buildings, stacked high with multicolored containers filled to the brim with toys and clothes and electronics, produced mostly in Asia.Continue reading