Truckers’ proposals "range from useless to harmful"

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Updated Dec 14, 2009

USA Today on recent trucker fuel-price protests

In an election year, the pressure on Congress to do isomething about energy prices is growing. Proposals are spouting like a Texas gusher. They include giving drivers a summer holiday from the federal gasoline tax, suspending efforts to fill the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and forcing shippers to pay truckers a fuel surcharge.

All have superficial appeal. But at a time when the real reasons for high prices are beyond Washington’s control —- static world oil production and rising demand from China, India and other nations —- those ideas range from useless to harmful. …

Truckers are usually fiercely independent and wary of government intervention, but now they want Congress to step in to force shippers to pay them fuel surcharges, or stop middlemen from hoarding the ones shippers pay.

No question, truckers are hurting, but the sort of intervention they seek would prompt pleas for relief for other groups hurt by price increases. The market, not government, has to sort out price disruptions.

The ensuing discussion is interesting and goes on for several pages. One comment is from trucker C.D. Silvernail, who favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

15 years ago Bill Clinton rejected the idea of drilling in ANWR for one reason, that it would take 10 to 15 years until the oil could come to the U.S. markets. Well, it’s 15 years later. Don’t you wish we had started back then? Our politicians’ long-term thinking is only until the next election.