Heavy Mettle

From Geneva comes this report: “Road Transport Sector on the Ropes – Based on a survey conducted amongst its members in 74 countries, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) told the United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE), meeting on Transport Trends and Economics in Geneva last week, that the economic crisis has had a catastrophic impact on the road transport sector in most countries.

“Comparing the current situation (January to June 2009) to the same period last year, the IRU said the survey showed that international road transport has been particularly severely affected by the global economic turndown. The survey also clearly indicated that financing transport operations is becoming increasingly difficult and has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of bankruptcies.

“Bearing in mind transport marketing differences from one country to another, the survey showed that on average:
– Domestic road freight transport output (t/km) has decreased by 10-20%.
– International road freight transport output (t/km) is down by 20-30%.
– Revenue development (domestic transport) decreased by 10-20%.
– Revenue development (international transport) decreased by 20-30%.
– Freight transport rates are down by more than 10%.
– Driver employment has decreased by more than 10%.
– New truck registrations are down by at least 30%.
– Access to bank credit has become more difficult.
– Bankruptcies are up by at least 20%.

“Although forecasts remain elusive in the current situation, the road transport industry does not expect a recovery in the sector before 2011, the IRU said.

“Noting that road freight transport has become a vital tool, interconnecting every business and transport mode along the production and distribution chains, and that the whole road transport industry is a major contributor to the economy in terms of employment, taxes, R&D and investments, the IRU renewed its call on governments to remove all neo-protectionist barriers, reassess and reduce current taxes, reappraise superfluous and inefficient environmental legislation and induce financial institutions to provide adequate credit lines so that transport operators can continue operating their business. ‘Any penalty on road transport is an even greater penalty on the economy as a whole,’ the IRU said.”

Last week we wrote: “Prior to this ‘Great Recession’ the economic lifeblood of every one of the G20 nations was being nourished by the buying power of the American consumer …”

[To be more accurate, we should have said that the American consumer is nourishing not just the large G20 nations, but all 74 members of the IRU … and the rest of the world as well!]

Did you take note of the IRU’s concern regarding “superfluous and inefficient environmental legislation”? Now that it’s a question of economic survival, the folks in the trenches are no longer willing to go along with those hoaxes that have been thrust upon them by greedy politicians and grant-seeking “scientists”. It’s time to get serious . Putting food on the table is the top priority for stressed-out breadwinners.

Here’s an easy prediction. We’ve already seen how readily the British, French, Italians, Greeks and Germans react to reversals such as job losses, excessive taxes and other financial pressures. Under normal circumstances workers in those countries have been known to strike and riot at the drop of a hat, but because there’s no possible way for the world to recover from the current economic depression – yes, it is a depression – we’ll soon be hearing and reading of events that up to now have been considered unthinkable.

Uprisings won’t be confined to the European continent either. The economic problems saddling nations overseas are not as severe as in this country, and when the millions of American jobless emulate foreign workers and take to the streets, the effects will be resounding. Unthinkable? No. Inevitable.

How can such events be forestalled? Well for starters, we can expect elected officials to “reassess and reduce current taxes” and “reappraise superfluous and inefficient environmental legislation” – and that will buy some time. But will they be able to “induce financial institutions to provide adequate credit lines”? In your dreams.

Remember what Paul Willen, the senior economist at Boston Federal Reserve Bank just said? “Thirty one percent of an unemployed person’s income is often nothing,” he said. “And a payment of zero will never be attractive to a lender.”

Now you know why all that bank bailout money wasn’t put into the hands of the needy. No jobs … therefore no paycheck. And, like the man said, no lender will be attracted by a zero payment.
But money talks. Tax reductions and environmental reappraisals won’t pay the rent or feed the kids, so eventually everything will come to a head. Already there are some very angry bloggers expressing themselves on the internet, and what they have in mind isn’t as insignificant as just another overseas war, either. We may witness stateside reactions that will forever be regretted.

But violent reactions can be avoided. Some seventy years ago, in similar circumstances, we saw a different kind of reaction from Americans. In anticipation of the coming World War, Emergency Shipbuilding Programs ended the nation’s economic destitution when millions of our jobless were hired by fledgling shipyards. The record number of vessels turned out in those yards by responsive Americans prompted the question, “How could so much be done in so short a short time?”

The answer was obvious. It was the energy, devotion and high resolve of U.S. workers that produced those startling results in that national emergency. Today’s national emergency calls for a duplication of those efforts, but only through a nationwide shipbuilding program can that be possible.