“The Short End of the Stick Shift”
If you’re not convinced by now of the truckers’ vulnerability, you’ll never be. These patsies are indeed the weakest link in the nation’s supply chain. All the bullies pick on ’em. It’s great sport … and it deflects attention. Most port drivers are paid by the load, have no health benefits and struggle financially. Purchasing a new or retrofitted rig …which is what is being demanded of them … costs $ 50,000 or more, but the whole idea is a joke when your take home pay is a pittance. Federal grant programs, of course, could give the lowly trucker an opportunity to leverage small amounts of money into larger sums through traditional financing, and the Environmental Protection Agency attempts to help the industry leverage grants through low-interest loans. But this is a just another joke.
The federal government is committed to helping the freight sector grow while reducing harmful diesel emissions, but its largesse can only go so far, said Mitch Greenberg, manager of the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. “The government can’t buy everyone a clean truck,” Greenberg remarked just recently. [Nor should anyone expect them to. After all, there’s only so much money left in the till … after the feds divert so much of it in order to satisfy the dredging demands of non-American owners of foreign-built megaships, the same owners that complain of our outmoded infrastructure. For example, a top executive of a large Asian-owned carrier had this to say. Read between the lines.]
“As we look at 2007, it is also significant that we take a view to 2014, when the enlarged Panama Canal is anticipated to be completed. This will … put further emphasis on the urgency for U.S. East Coast gateways to prepare for the incredible growth of cargo volume and increased vessel calls that is expected. During this period, new ships will only get larger, and port facilities will be expected to meet the requirements of these vessels.
“Add to that the skyrocketing increases in intermodal rail rates, and we will see an even larger trend toward all-water service from the Far East to the East Coast … This all might result in a move back to the original hub port concept of fewer calls and more transshipment and feeder-coastwise shipping that is so prevalent in European intra-continental trades. I will repeat last year’s statement that the need for expanded port space must be understood, and … all harbors should work to make the movement of cargo swift and smooth through an intelligent commitment to infrastructure development.” [Get all that? Not a word about a financial contribution from his company. We pay to grease their skids. Look again. You didn’t have to “read between the lines”.]
• “… port facilities will be expected to meet the requirements of these vessels”
• “… a move back to the original hub port concept of fewer calls and more transshipment …”
• “… all harbors should work to make the movement of cargo swift and smooth through an intelligent commitment to infrastructure development.”
[Meanwhile, truckers are not considered as part of the “infrastructure” and are the only links in the supply chain required to pay their own way. They’re allowed to take out a loan though … if they can qualify.]