Letters: Bureaucrats, Funding Infrastructure, Assaulting Business, HOS vs. Efficiency
These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 1 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Ya gotta love it that the royalty in Washington, D.C., is so out of touch with the American people and the business world. The bureaucrats in Washington have never sat in a truck, and yet they are the ones telling me how to drive my truck. They don’t realize that everything that they eat, drink and wear is delivered by truck.
There is no shortage of drivers; there is a shortage of good-paying driving jobs. The older drivers are leaving the business because they realize how hard it is to make a living out here, and the kids coming out of school are being taken advantage of by these companies that pay nothing and keep them out a month at a time just to make $45,000 a year.
That $45,000 sounds good until you realize it’s 24/7 in a truck. When you’re not driving, you’re resting or you’re held up at a shipper. This is where the hours-of-service ruling is ridiculous. Once you start the 14-hour rule, you’re committed to 14 hours.
I see it every day: Those kids are out there running hammer down through construction zones, running on snow and ice, tailgating and trying to get every mile they can get in a day.
If the powers that be want to change the trucking business, they should try putting a limit on the time shipping and receiving can hold trucks. And don’t even get me started on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program or driver fitness, sleep apnea and more scams perpetrated on the trucking industry.
The biggest problem with the trucking industry is that it is run by anti-trucking groups.
The challenge of financing infrastructure at the state and municipal level is national in scope. However, the opportunity exists for Washington to finance $10 billion annually in new money infrastructure grants without the need for new taxes, tolls or fees at any level — and in a manner that will not affect the federal budget or deficit.
For example, the financing model American infrastructure bonds, or AIBs, would provide $1.2 billion each year and 15,700 new jobs each year for California; $260 million each year and 3,380 new jobs each year for New Jersey; and $600 million each year and 7,800 new jobs each year for New York. The grants would go to all states, which, in turn, would fund infrastructure at the state and municipal levels.
To enact AIBs, congressional support is needed for HR 535 (which was recently introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly [D-Va.] and would renew Build America Bonds 2013 with a Congressional Budget Office 25% deficit-neutral subsidy) and the use of U.S. agency credit enhancements.
In furtherance of David Dwinell’s March 18 op-ed “A New ‘Tax’ on Carriers” (p. 9), independent truckers and small carriers had better get ready to brace for the impact of phase one of the assault on small business and prepare for phase two.
Phase one is clearly the Oct. 1 imposition of a ridiculously high $75,000 broker bond that adjusts the current bond by more than three times the rate of inflation from 1979 and will take out up to 15,000 of the industry’s freight brokers.
Phase one comes with two “unintended consequences.”
• Once competition from those 15,000 smaller brokers is removed, rates offered to truckers will go down. It is the small brokerage sector that has been keeping the larger third-party logistics providers who have been trying to score 22% profit in check.
• Second, we expect that tens of thousands of owner-operators will go unpaid, as these brokers are forced to shut down.
The $75,000 broker bond is not going to prevent fraud; it is going to cause it.
As for phase two, while the biggest issue facing small brokers is that $75,000 bond, the biggest issue facing big brokers is vicarious liability. The brokerage industry already is talking about a corresponding adjustment of truckers’ bodily injury and property damage liability insurance for inflation to deter vicarious liability claims against brokers.
The current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration insurance levels were last set in 1985. If we adjust $1 million for inflation, it comes out to $2 million.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will have a very tough time arguing against such an increase because they just finished saying that the broker bond has not gone up since 1979. How much will truckers’ insurance premiums go up as a result of this?
Association of Independent Property Brokers & Agents
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
HOS vs. Efficiency
“Rep. Petri Backs VMT for Highway Financing” is the headline on a front-page story in your March 4 edition. In the same issue, on the same page, is another story headlined “FMCSA Denies HOS Delay.”
Lawmaker Petri and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulators are missing the big picture in trucking: The only thing that makes America No. 1 is the fact that commerce within our country moves at incredible speeds when compared with other nations — thanks to American trucking’s efficiency.
Everything the government does to impede that commerce makes everyone in this country incrementally poorer from their effort; therefore, any change in policy or tax should be designed to maintain trucking efficiency. Everything those in power do to increase trucking’s efficiency makes everyone in this country incrementally richer for their effort.
Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) did not mention the fact that the VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax only makes sense if other taxes — and especially the 50 other taxing bodies — sign on and reduce their tax burden commensurate with the VMT tax increase. Otherwise, his proposal is just another tax increase.
Want to increase efficiency? Nationalize the state inspection stations so truckers face one law and one taxing body.
The hours-of-service rule has been shown to be a sham with respect to its intended goal, which is to reduce driver fatigue and make the roadways safer. The HOS rule just means more trucks have to take to America’s highways to maintain the unregulated shipping schedules imposed by those who purchase transportation. More trucks and more traffic mean more fatigue.
If FMCSA really wants to reduce fatigue, with the amount of money they have spent studying HOS, American taxpayers could have built a thousand more rest areas and accomplished the sought-after goal.
The European Union was formed to emulate our Commerce Clause, speeding commerce between the various European nations. China is emulating the same constitutional commerce clause with speedier commerce, and they are said to be spending the equivalent of $1 billion every 20 hours building roads and bridges to enable their commerce to move even faster.
I think it is important to realize that the government’s job is to regulate commerce, but it is apparent to me that the government, the VMT proposal and the HOS rules are impairing American commerce with short-sighted, immature regulation. To speed commerce, we need to completely overhaul the system — especially taxes — to create efficiency and make America the good and great country it used to be.