Welcome to a new edition of The Weekender… Where shipping delays loom and the holidays draw closer. Also—the House of Representatives has finally passed their infrastructure bill, and we’re taking an inside look into the drama leading up to the vote. Plus—the vaccine mandate debates heat up, and some unexpected voices are at the forefront of the conversation. As always, thanks for kicking off your weekend with the Strategic Elements team.
THE BIG FIVE
Holiday shopping is ramping up, but the labor shortage is bringing businesses to a halt. Product shortages are seen and felt within the stores, where average holiday items are not being sold this year due to shipping delays and manufacturing issues. The lack of workers is even more of a problem, leaving retailers to offer significant incentives to attract new hires. The days of just offering employee discounts are over; now, employers have to offer signing bonuses, referral payments, and free college tuition to ensure they have enough staff to survive the holiday rush. Unfortunately, the pain does not stop there. Consumer prices are at their highest in more than three decades due to the supply chain crisis (update: the cargo ships off the coast of Long Beach now total 58 freighters awaiting port and still no end in sight), and U.S. inflation has reached a 30-year high. Experts are now claiming this won’t end with the close of 2021 and will continue into 2022. Read more in the New York Times.
Vaccine mandate fights heat up
Close to a year after the COVID-19 vaccines were made available to the public, vaccine debates are still dominating conversations throughout the United States. Vaccine mandates are the latest topic—and they are inflaming the already heightened culture wars in the nation. Despite a court-ordered pause, the White House has instructed businesses to continue with the federal vaccine mandate affecting federal contractors and large employers, adding gasoline to the fire. The latest players in the conversations are none other than Aaron Rodgers and Mr. Alright-Alright-Alright, Matthew McConaughey. Rodgers is in hot water after he tested positive for COVID-19, revealing he was unvaccinated. The NFL investigated whether or not any protocols were violated by Rodgers or his team of the Green Bay Packers. Sure enough, fines totaling $300,000 hit the Packers and $14,650 hit Rodgers late Tuesday night. The team was warned that any further violations would result in a much more severe consequence: losing their draft picks. However, Rodgers will not lose his major contract with State Farm Insurance, as they have announced they are sticking behind Rodgers and are respecting his right “to have his own personal point of view.” The other angle of the debate involves children and whether or not they should be included in the mandate. The FDA has approved the vaccine for children aged 5-11, noting it is a smaller dose sized for the children, but some parents are concerned and vowing to wait to vaccinate their kids. One voice in this fight is Matthew Mcconaughy, who says he is waiting to vaccinate his own children until more studies can be done. Regardless of opinions, this fight between sides is not going to end any time soon. Read more in Axios.
Infrastructure week (finally) arrives
What seemed impossible has finally become a reality: the House has passed the infrastructure bill, which has been in negotiations for weeks (even though it felt like years to many following the story). However, late last Friday, the bill passed 228-206; but it was not without drama from both sides of the aisle. With motions to adjourn from the GOP side to a closed-door hours-long meeting between Democrats and even a plea from U.S. President Joe Biden, the bill had no shortage of challenges that it had to overcome before heading to the President’s desk. These obstacles may be an indication of a long year ahead, especially with the 2022 mid-term elections around the corner. As a result, people are paying closer attention to kitchen table issues, such as rising gas prices, overall inflation, and supply chain problems. The way that this bill’s passage unfolded should have the Administration very worried about what’s to come—but don’t worry, we will be here every step of the way to bring you the latest. Read more in the Washington Post.
Twitter decides Tesla’s fate
In an unexpected, though not too surprising, turn of events, Elon Musk relied on a Twitter poll to decide to sell 10% of his Tesla stock, which caused Tesla’s stock to become volatile. Some skeptics claim he already had the sale in progress before turning to Twitter; regardless, his actions had some significant impacts on its stock. This incident shows how much of an effect that founders have on their company’s stock price. It’s hard to imagine Steve Jobs and other traditional founders being so nonchalant about their stock price—or about losing roughly $50 billion in two days. However, Elon Musk is never shy about paving his own way. Read more in The Verge.
Honor veterans by tending to their mental health
Thursday, November 11, marked Veterans Day in the United States this year—a day to recognize and thank veterans for their hard work, dedication, and service to our nation. Between the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, this year has been particularly stressful for our veterans. While Veterans Day is only one day, we must continue to check in with our vets and troops on their mental health. Each year, physical health, mental health, and health care services become more critical for military veterans as suicide rates among veterans have risen over the past couple of years. We would like to thank all the Veterans, including our very own Liz Etter—a former United States Air Force Nuclear Missile Operations Officer. To all our veterans: Thank you for your service; our country would not be the same without you. Read more in the New York Daily.
International tears of joy as the border re-opens to travelers
After nearly 20 months, the United States’ borders are officially open to vaccinated international travelers. Families are reuniting, tears are being shed, and life is seemingly going back to normal (a bit anyway). Travelers must be vaccinated to enter the U.S. and are required to show proof—or else face massive fines. The borders’ opening will affect more than just the airlines (air travel is up 21% from Europe to the U.S.). It will likely have an impact on border towns and the U.S. economy as many border towns rely on international travel and the economic boost tourism brings. Read more in the New York Times.
30,000: The number of runners in the 50th New York City Marathon last weekend. Runners included Shalane Flanagan, who finished the race in 2:33:32 and completed the unprecedented challenge of running all six World Marathon Majors in 42 days.
2,190 miles: The distance 83-year-old M.J. “Sunny” Eberhart (trail name: Nimblewill Nomad) hiked on the Appalachian Trail, becoming the oldest person to complete the course.
1 million: The number of workers who miss work daily due to stress-related issues, with 83% of U.S. workers suffering from work-related stress.
100,000: The number of employees UPS plans to hire in November to help combat nationwide shipping delays as the holiday season ramps up. UPS is offering sign-on bonuses and additional benefits to help attract employees.
56%: The percentage of voters who think the country is on the wrong economic track, up from 39% in June. Experts say economic pessimism comes from supply-chain issues, contributing to the soaring price of cars and other goods.
90%: The amount of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glacial ice that has been lost due to melting and sublimation. These glaciers are moneymaking tourist attractions and beacons of beliefs for indigenous groups, evaporating into thin air.
28 years: The duration of time Brian Williams has been with NBC news. Williams announced on Tuesday that he would be signing off at the end of the year, seeing “38 countries, 8 Olympic games, 7 presidential elections, half a dozen Presidents, a few wars” during his career.
900,000+: The number of children aged 5-11 who will have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose as of Wednesday. The CDC approved a two-dose series of Pfizer’s vaccine for children on November 2, with kids receiving their first dose the following day.
$283,927,000,000: The amount of revenue collected by the U.S. Treasury in the month of October, a record high.
Elfish move: Santa may have fewer eyes in homes this Christmas season after a judge in Georgia — jokingly — banned the Elf on the Shelf. Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Leonard posted a mock order banishing these elves from Cobb County. https://t.co/797Y9zm8AC #odd— AP Oddities (@AP_Oddities) November 9, 2021
Credit: AP Oddities on Twitter.