Monday, March 23, 2020

I Feel Dumber

I haven't been blogging as much about Pandemic Panic as I might have been because I found that Bobbi has been doing a good job of explaining some issues that my own thoughts were, shall we say, less than fully developed.

F'r instance, in Week Two Of Taking It Seriously, fresh off the Intertubes, she discusses the supply chain.

Which was timely, because I happened to get up a little early today, and walked in on Mrs. Drang while she was waking up and feeding cats and watching morning TV.

Where the talking heads were interrogating the Surgeon General of the United States about why in the world the President's Phone and Pen cannot just magically make millions of surgical masks and nitrile gloves appear in hospitals and clinics. "But it's been days since the Defense Production Act was 'invoked', why are there still shortages of Personal Protective Equipment?"


I am not a logisitician, I did not stay at a Holiday In express last night, I do not play a logistician on TV...

...But I spent 20 years on the Army, and, as a Marine General said "Amateurs talk about tactics, but Professionals study logistics." (Quotes on logistics on this page go back to the American Revolution.)

Just because the President has authorized the DPA, does not mean that suddenly the factories are cranking these things out 24/7.

Assuming that the factories aren't already running 24/7, they have to find trained staff to run three shifts. They have to find the material. The material has to get to the factory. Workers have to be paid among other Human Resources actions, they have to be fed, the facilities have to be maintained, and kept secure.

And the finished product has to get to warehouses, or in some cases directly to the consumer. Which means trucks, mostly, which have to be maintained and fueled, and the drivers fed and paid and...

You can surge some of that. If you have trained personnel, facilities, and materials available you can go to an emergency schedule while the bean counters and paper shufflers sort out the details.

(Did I ever mention that during college I worked a couple of summers on an assembly line at one of the Big 3?)

If you have a facility that can be repurposed -- you make widgets and now there's a need for framastans -- it takes time to retool, and to ensure your staff know how to make a framastan. The assembly lines at Big 3, Inc., used to shut down for one or two weeks in the summer tor retool for the new model year of the same car model the plant had been making for years!  (One year they all shut down all the plants at the same time. Glad I was in Korea by that time...)

Watching these idiots talk to people about things that may as well be magical to them makes me feel like my IQ has declined to their level.

Which may be unfair, they're just flailing around with concepts they haven't ever had to deal with, or knew existed.  Food just appears in the store. The mechanic mutters incantations and my car works.

Grasshoppers. Grasshoppers, all of them.

 About those shortages of PPE. Interesting article: Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News: Federal stockpile of N95 masks was depleted under Obama and never restocked.

Now, that sort of implies that Obama just shrugged and said "Never mind", which is highly unlikely. I'm guessing that line items in budges for the re-stocking of mundane things like surgical masks and gloves got cut because no one involved really believed they would be necessary, and anyway, there were more important things to spend the money on.

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