Recently, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) held a conference call stating his opposition to a senate bill that, for all practical purposes, allows the Federal Government to impose transportation company mandates on all states. The New York Times shares the senator's concerns and more:
"...Last month the House passed an appropriations bill that would put bigger trucks with overworked drivers behind the wheel on the nation's highways. If that weren't irresponsible enough, the Senate is now considering legislation that would allow trucking companies to hire 18-year-old drivers for interstate routes and undermine safety on roads and railroads in numerous other ways..."
Senator Casey rightly opposes forcing a one size fits all transportation mandate on states. The effect of the legislation would create truck 'trains' on our already crowded and decrepit highways which will not improve soon. Congress could only pass another short term, stopgap transportation bill.
Bill Graves, ATA President/CEO, along with congressional Republicans, argues against states' rights. In a letter to the editor, Bill Graves sounded reasonable concerning lowering driver age limits until you realize that the same bill imposes truck length regulations and requires the government to stop publishing federal safety records of trucking companies. At great expense, a state may be able to regain some restrictions on trucks but it would be a long, difficult fight.
Senator Casey's opposition to larger trucks confronts a classic example of industry misbehavior. Rather than raising wages and hiring more drivers, trucking companies are attempting to use the Federal Government to force truck drivers to haul even more freight for the same wage. In a competitive economy, the trucking companies would not be allowed to choose the force of government over market forces. More everyday citizens and families may die, including truck drivers, but corporations will profit.
I first worked on trucks long ago. I was twelve years old and I was brought along to shovel the tons of coal flowing into a local dairy's steam room. My 'pay' was a double dip ice cream cone from the dairy. Trucking was a family business. During high school, I often went to the New York City docks where we picked up truckloads of bananas. I would return home in time for class. I joined the Teamsters Union while still in high school. Trucking is a difficult and necessary business. However, as in aviation, those employees at the controls of the equipment have seen their status and pay deteriorate.
Having served on a national trucking company board, I know blaming the trucking companies is not the answer either. The massive corporations selling the majority of the nation's goods and services are continually squeezing the trucking companies for lower freight costs as they attempt to keep margins razor thin. Meanwhile, the consumers, you and I, have grown to expect/demand free shipping. The situation is capitalism. But the warehouse and trucking industry answers are not. Their answer is using government regulation to force drivers to do more for the same or less.
In the far more modern tech industry, real capitalism is actually at work. Steve Lohrjuly wrote in a New York Times the article, "As Tech Booms, Workers Turn to Coding for Career Change":
"...So Mr. Minton, a 26-year-old math major, took a three-month course in computer programming and data analysis. As a waiter, he made $20,000 a year. His starting salary last year as a data scientist at a web start-up here was more than $100,000.
"Six figures, right off the bat," Mr. Minton said. "To me, it was astonishing."
Stories like his are increasingly familiar these days as people across a spectrum of jobs -- poker players, bookkeepers, baristas -- are shedding their past for a future in the booming tech industry..."
Market forces rather than government regulation at work.
Where does Donald Trump come in? Workers are being crushed from both sides -- more work for the same pay, while taxes creep steadily up. The government empowers corporations to impose demands on small businesses and workers that enable a race to the economic bottom. Trump's success is getting these small business people and workers to blame those below them on the economic ladder rather than the government and corporate elite who are the actual culprits.
Trump taps into the righteous anger of an electorate while misdirecting those voters to scapegoat our struggling veterans, military, federal workers, retired people, sick and challenged under the clever and nondescript term -- dependent class. The American worker does not deserve to be squeezed by its own government. If politicians like Senator Casey and Hillary Clinton cannot get their message across, extremists, like Trump, win.
The Senate legislation Casey opposes should be stripped of both anti-states' rights and anti-free market language. Republican members of congress clearly have become serfs owned by their corporate masters. The American people do not deserve the same fate.