Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When trucking gets a cold, America sneezes

Every single person in America is dealing with the high cost of fuel. But truckers face a particular burden. Unlike most Americans, they have to deal with that cost as a fundamental part of making a living.

They track that fuel cost and how it affects their operation. And they’re very aware of how that fuel cost affects everyone they do business with – which means, in essence, everyone else in the economy.

That gives truckers a particular kind of insight. And it’s where most of the public falls short in their understanding of how fuel prices affect our economy.

The folks in government never seem to understand the basic concept here – that when costs go up for truckers, everyone else will eventually pay as well. They still look at trucks as if they’re giant rolling piggy banks full of free cash.

Part of the problem is their basic misunderstanding of the nature of the trucking industry. They think of it as giant fortune 500 companies, whereas the business is – in reality – mostly made up of some of the smallest operations in the American business world.

You see that misconception playing out elsewhere as well. A good example is the Indiana Toll Road. Part of the reason you haven’t seen them learn the lessons of that debacle is that – in part – the ultimate consequences are still developing, with some still years away.

Remember, regular toll increases were built into that lease. But they were designed to happen over time.

By the time the toll rates have gone up over and over and finally reached an unpayable, unaffordable figure, many of the folks who caused the mess will be long retired.

It’s all of us, along with our children and grandchildren, who’ll be stuck with an unaffordable road, few alternatives and a messed up highway system in that state.

The best recourse we have to correct problems like this is public pressure. Make sure you register to vote, and make sure you vote in every election at every level of government. Find out where candidates stand on these issues, and vote accordingly.

And keep those calls coming to your members of Congress – both House and Senate – and to your state lawmakers. Keep telling them how this affects you, how you oppose it.

We’ve proven time and again how a wave of phone calls from truckers can affect how our elected officials vote.