Speakout – May 2009

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Engine trouble
The engine is still running, but it’s down about 50 percent. Not the engine under the hood of my Cascadia, but the engine powering our economy, which in some ways is like an internal combustion engine.

The CPU is like our leaders. Unless it sends exact signals to the injectors, the engine might start, but it won’t pull properly. A real engine needs oil to reduce friction in parts that interact. And without fuel, the engine won’t make even one revolution. Likewise, the oil of effective supervision in our factories is as essential as the fuel of our line workers and consumers.

The engine of the economy has been abused and not maintained for a long time. Each part, no matter how small, contributes to the efficient operation of the power plant we call our nation. Whether you’ve got a problem with a real engine or an economic engine, pouring in a snake oil product might promise an easy fix, but doing so only masks the problem. When the symptoms reappear, they’ll be worse than ever.

Our politicians offer similar solutions. The only way to fix an engine is to shut it off, repair it and be careful not to mix in any high-performance parts. While these parts might make more power, efficiency or durability will be sacrificed.

We should stop looking for others to blame and make sure that we are doing our part to make our nation’s engine run at its full potential. HENRY ALBERT 2007 Overdrive Trucker of the Year. Adapted from his blog at www.sliceoftruckerlife.com/blogs
Statesville, N.C.

“Trucking’s going to be much more regulated, not only for emissions but also for health. Much of that’s already in place. A lot of states are fighting mandatory speed limiters. But we see that in Canada already.”

– Company driver James White, of Silver Creek, Miss., on trucking’s future

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“Whether they cut down emissions or not, the people need us so I don’t keep up with it. I keep up with my engine size and the horsepower.”
Houston, Texas | Transway Transport

“I can’t afford to buy a new truck anyway. Between the government and California, they’ve put a hurt-lock on the little guy.”
Lisbon, N.Y. | Owner-operator leased to Mercer Transportation

“We really didn’t have any choice. There’s nothing wrong with stricter emission standards. I’m all for cleaner air.”
Jackson, Miss. | Averitt Express

“It does keep the emissions down. But it hurts the power of the trucks. It’s not going to help that much.”
Charleston, S.C. | BTT

“Word of mouth is getting around that there are too many difficulties in the systems. They need to come up with something more fuel efficient.”
Dowagiac, Mich. | Pascal Truck Lines

Plan well to survive
For an independent trucker such as myself, only one economic law applies: supply and demand. Right now there’s plenty of trucks in supply and not much demand for them. The result is many trucking companies will be forced out of business. No shipper cares how much fuel costs a trucker or what his other costs are. The shipper cares only about how much he can get a truck for. And you can be sure the federal government or the states won’t do anything to help. As Linda Longton correctly points out in her column “Be a survivor” [Viewpoint, June], owner-operators better figure out a way to survive.