Letters: Reregulation (Cont’d.), Fighting Back

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Aug. 17 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.Reregulation (Cont’d.)

This is just a comment on the letter headlined “Safety, Reregulation” that ran in the July 20 issue (p. 5; click here for previous letter).

The letter writer was quick to refer to a book by a great author [George Orwell’s “1984”]. Although the book is great reading, it is, of course, just one man’s fictional story of what certain actions could lead to — at best, his own opinion.

The letter writer says, “Let the market decide and not a centralized few. Even if someone genuinely wants to help — and I assure you that many of our elected officials are out for their own agenda — they do not have the vision, information or intelligence to be right 100% of the time. No one does. Anyone who claims they do is either a liar with an agenda or deranged.”



This idea of allowing the market to decide would be a great idea — if we had a true free-market system.

At best, what we have is a manipulated market, and it already is controlled by a centralized few. We limit interest rates and pump money into the economy to make it look like it’s doing better — not unlike the criminals at a lot of large banks, insurance and energy companies, some of whom are now serving jail time or have committed suicide instead of facing their fate.

This idea of a free market is nothing more than the opinion of a few people of what a free market should look like from their perspective, and it seems the letter writer readily agrees.

Please, enough about the “free market” until we actually have one. Without a solid foundation, we are bound to fall.

Name Withheld by Request

Local Driver

Cincinnati

Fighting Back

There is a front page article in the July 13 issue headlined “Freight Hauling Capacity Loss Seen Setting Stage for ‘Bull Market’ Recovery After Recession Ends.”

The only part that should change in that headline is putting an “if” instead of “after.”

Everyone knows the law of supply and demand and has heard the comment, “Everything you have in your life at some point spent time in the back of truck.” So why is a disaster getting ready to happen?

As far as I can tell from talking to others in the business, including competitors, this is the worst year trucking has ever seen — and I’m not sure we’ve seen the bottom yet.

This newspaper has written about the great loss of trucks this year. Right now, we are seeing carriers going under. Give it time and you’ll see brokers and third-party logistics providers going out of business, too.

Do you remember 2005? It was a banner year for trucking with a nearly unprecedented boom going on in the United States. Now we’re looking at the flip side. I’ve seen information suggesting that 40% of the carriers in 2009 couldn’t afford their registrations and base plates in the first quarter. Rates are at all-time lows compared with the 1970s and early ’80s.

As hard as you think you work, even if it’s 80 hours a week in a cubicle, you don’t begin to match the hours any American trucker works — for starters, can we say 160 hours a week? These guys don’t go home every night to be with their families, and even when they are sleeping in that tiny little box called a sleeper berth, they still are playing security guard for the freight. Some have lost their lives over it. The crooks don’t care, they just want the freight somebody wants to pay only 50 cents a mile to move. Would you go the extra mile to protect that freight?

Rates are so low these days that everything from attitudes about delivery times and vehicle security to freight stability and freight/cargo safety has diminished. The age-old adage “you get what you pay for” still means something.

It takes money to run a truck the right way. Why can’t some sort of national matrix be set up? We know, or can figure out, how much it costs to run a truck. Even giant carriers that lease 1,000 trucks or more per year from the big manufacturers and get mega-discounts on fuel and other expenses have a base cost-per-mile to run their trucks.

I can’t suggest what a fair price per mile is, but I’m sure we could come up with a range based on actual statistics and facts. Fuel can be broken down to so much per mile. Truck purchases/trailer purchases, insurance, maintenance, oil changes, tires, tolls, lumpers, operations/ corporate expenses/help, rent/ utilities and driver salary all should be considered. And forget the notion of backhaul, because your backhaul is someone else’s headhaul.

With help from a certified CPA team in the trucking business, add up what it costs to run a truck these days, have someone publish the information, and we’ll have a good scale of where to run freight from.

Why are customers telling us how to run our companies? Do we tell them how to run theirs?

When you visit a retail shop or invite a contractor into your home for carpentry, electrical work, etc., you don’t tell them you want the room remodeled and will pay them $1,200 — or at least not if you expect them to stick around. So why do we do this in trucking? It makes no sense.

Trucking must change. Bureaucrats, lobbyists, tax people, toll collectors and customers all are after us, and we are losing drivers left and right.

It’s too tough to survive out there, but trucking must survive — it’s the lifeblood of this country. Whether it was longhaul or just across the street to a warehouse, a truck moved it.

Dan Mitchell

Owner

CR Danstar Transportation LLC

Somerset, Wis.

 

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