News & Politics

Will Fines Finally Solve the Port Problem or Just Make Things Worse?

(AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

As of November 1, the Container Excess Dwell Fee is in effect for both the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports. Fines will be accessed and start accumulating after November 15 for all arriving containers. Shipping companies with containers set to move by trucks that dwell on the docks past nine days and containers set to move by rail that stay at the ports past three days will be fined $100 per container. After the initial three or nine days, shipping companies will be fined an incremental increase of $100 per container per day.

“Containers that linger too long on the docks are delaying the berthing of vessels, leading to record numbers of ships waiting off the coast, and consumers and businesses across the U.S. left waiting for crucial shipments,” the Long Beach commissioners said in a statement to KTLA.

“This is the nation’s leading cargo gateway, and this crisis has national impacts,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We need to take action to facilitate the rapid movement of cargo through the supply chain.” While some public officials are convinced these fines along with longer hours of port operation, the relaxing of stacking ordinances for containers, and other measures will work to ease the unprecedented shipping backlog, other officials aren’t so certain.

Fundamentally, the mess at the ports illuminates the core differences between leftists and conservatives. While leftists fine shipping companies because they have to wait to unload their goods, conservatives believe there’s a better way of relieving the port congestion. “What they should be doing—rather than imposing fines—they should be cutting costs, incentivizing people to get out of there with lower port fees and quicker turnaround times,” explained GOP Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA) in an interview with Fox News. “That’s how we’re going to get this thing moving.”

Garcia isn’t alone in believing that decades of failed leftist policies have only made things worse at our ports. There are two policies in particular that are championed by Democratic politicians and environmental activists: AB-5 and CARB regulations.

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Instead, leftists punish people who don’t do what they think they should. Conservatives believe incentives work much more effectively than punishments. In the end, those fines don’t hurt the multi-billion dollar shipping companies because they will simply pass on those fines to the consumer in the form of higher prices. To see incentives successfully at work, we need only look to the busy and unclogged ports of Florida and Texas.

Meanwhile, despite mainstream media’s breathless claims to the contrary, the country’s busiest ports remain stubbornly clogged because so far nothing President Biden, Governor Newsom, or other officials have decreed has incentivized the unions to want to pay longshoreman overtime to work longer hours, more truckers to work under California’s onerous regulations, or lowering port fees and making turnaround times faster so shipping companies can leave the ports quicker. Until these incentives are offered, we can be sure the backlog and congestion at our ports will continue and fines will only make things worse for consumers.