The Business End

The board president of one of Southern California’s container ports has now made it clear that he will insist upon a finalized “Clean Truck Plan” that provides for the consolidation of the local trucking industry into a smaller number of trucking companies having the proverbial “deep pockets”. He has been quoted as saying that he only wanted licenses to go to truck companies with “deep pockets, so we can hurt them.” Nice guy. This patriarch was recruited, we recall, because it was felt that with his years of experience he would be able to straighten things up a little. He’s not straightening things up. He’s messing things up.

In an interview on a local radio show he stated, “We are simply saying that we need somebody who gets a concession that will be responsible for seeing that all the trucks and truck drivers under their concession abide by our rules … ”

“Our objective is to have a system where if somebody doesn’t abide by our rules that has a concession, then they have enough money that we can put pain on them so they will comply. We are business people,” he added.

Officials in the trucking industry feel that this is a backhanded move on the part of the ports to achieve consolidation of the port trucking industry while appearing as though they’re not threatening smaller trucking companies. When the plan was first proposed, it was intended to limit the number of licenses issued to as few as 100, thereby eliminating as many as 1,300 smaller truck companies. In response to strong criticisms, however, this limitation was eventually removed, but industry officials now suspect that instead of limiting the number of licenses issued, the ports will require high bonding and insurance requirements instead, which would have the same effect as limiting the number of licenses, thus eliminating hundreds of those unwanted small trucking companies.

It’s too bad that authorities have forgotten … or discarded … or never even heard about … cause and effect relationships. One way or another, truckers and others who are not the cause of pollution and congestion arising from container port activities will be forced into paying for the troubles caused by greedy and inconsiderate port operators. First it was PierPass, and the ever-increasing size of the fines for non-compliance. The relief, as little as there was of it, was paid for not by the offending ports but by the lowly drivers. But the tab for this “Clean Truck Plan”, proponents say, will fall on the shoulders of retailers who profit from the cargo, thereby giving a break to the lowly drivers who, the port authorities maintain, are on the “lower rung” of the transportation ladder. (Wink, wink!)

Baloney. The ports, and that patriarch we mentioned above, already figured out that the truckers can’t pay for this hoax. Analysts are predicting that the plan would add about $ 250 to $ 500 to the cost of each container, and rather than eat the cost themselves, the ports expect us to believe that the buck is being passed to multi-billion-dollar-a-year retailers. Well, the Wal-Marts and Targets and Home Depots won’t pick up that tab either. They’ll pass it along, as usual, to us consumers.

[They’re business people too, remember?]