In the first year of COVID we became armchair experts in infectious disease. The next, we earned our PhD’s in global supply chains, chalking up the months-long wait times for new screen doors and patio furniture to that container ship stuck in the Suez Canal. Most recently, it’s baby formula that’s been affected by disrupted global supply chains.
As a mom who feeds her baby formula, this isn’t a headline I can avoid by changing channels. This crisis has burrowed its way into the back of my brain, where it pulses, its own beating heart, reminding me all the way down to my bones that it’s 2022 in the most powerful, richest country in the history of humankind, and we can’t feed our babies.
I reached out to Tinglong Dai, Professor at Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, and expert in global supply chains, wanting to understand these issues and what seemed to be an absolute lack of leadership from government and accountability agencies. On our call, Dai was angry. Being a woman and a mother—two demographics often accused of overreacting—I was surprised that Dai was equally disturbed. “This goes way beyond the scope of a typical supply chain shortage,” he said. As we spoke, it scared me to hear my worst fears were justified. This crisis is a microcosm for everything that’s broken in our country, a massive socio-, economic and political collapse that tells the story of how we failed the most vulnerable people in our country: babies.
And yet, I also felt an overwhelming sense of something else, something lighter; I was relieved. Relieved that in a culture of indifference, Dai cared. Now, I would like you to care.