Is this post related to the one immediately below? Oh, you just bet your numb ass it is.
Truck This: Why I’m Leaving the Long-Haul Industry
I’ve been a truck driver for over 20 years. I suppose I always knew I would be, ever since that career day in the third grade when among all the kids dressed like doctors and baseball players, there I stood dressed like Jerry Reed from Smokey and the Bandit. Pop culture in the 80s painted the picture of truckers as rugged men, wild and free, burdened by nothing except their own wanderlust. That romanticized version of the American truck driver still lingers in the back of my mind, but in recent years the burden of government regulation has proven to be greater than my desire to see what’s over the next hill.
Oppressive regulation in the trucking industry has been around almost as long as the iconic chrome bulldog on the hood of Mack trucks. Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Motor Carrier Act (FMCA) of 1935 during his first term. This gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), an agency originally formed to regulate railroads, the authority to regulate the burgeoning business of moving goods by tractor-trailer. The ICC ultimately decided which companies could haul certain goods, for whom, where, and what they could charge. The ICC even decided if new transportation companies could enter the market by requiring eager upstarts to prove their services were “needed.”
The only exemptions to these laws were in the agricultural sector. FDR and his horde of central planners did not want to cause an increase in food prices during a time when many Americans were already struggling to put food on the table. Nevermind the tacit admission that the FMCA would raise prices on all other goods. This exemption had its own unintended consequences. While independent drivers, commonly referred to as wildcatters in driver slang, were not subject to the price floors previously mentioned, they were limited to hauling only agricultural goods. This limitation caused a significant logistical dilemma for wildcatters delivering in industrialized parts of the country, and is largely responsible for the mythos of the outlaw trucker we all know today from music and film. Whether in an old country song from Red Sovine or Kurt Russell’s character in Big Trouble in Little China, such renegades are almost always hauling agricultural goods.
Thankfully, a trend towards deregulation began in the 1970s, and the cesspool of cronyism and perverse incentives created by FDR was substantially reined in with the FMCA of 1980. This is why we now see hundreds, if not not thousands of company names sprawled along the sides of 53-foot trailers. Granted, we still have the ICC, though today it is known as the Department of Transportation, and any truck driver that has had to spend 10 hours at a scale house without a shower or a hot meal over a minor infraction of hours of service rules (another specter of the FMCA of 1935) will tell you it remains quite burdensome. But things are still better than they used to be.
Unfortunately, the federal government continues its misguided attempts to control an industry regulators know little to nothing about. But today’s attempts tend to focus more on something they understand even less than trucking: technology.
Odd, innit, how so much of the intrusive, meddlesome legislation that still hobbles ordinary workaday Americans to this very day originated with über-Left/liberal FDR—scion of one clan amongst several of a de facto if not de jure American Royalty class, a class which to this day we flatter ourselves does not, indeed cannot, exist—who is still worshipped by contemporary shitlibs as if he were some kind of demi-God.
The author goes on to discuss electronic logs, the godawful Regen/DPF devices, and speed governors, soon to be inflicted on big-rig jockeys nationwide by our know-nothing DOT czar Pete “Penelope” Buttplug, before arriving at his grim but inevitable conclusion:
However well-intentioned these rules and regulations might be, it’s clear that no one is consulting with the long haul truckers about the totally foreseeable bad outcomes. The great problem with all central planning is that regulators lack local knowledge, and are not inclined to speak to the people living with the consequences of their decrees. Probably because we would tell them what idiots they are.
The last two decades I’ve spent traversing this beautiful nation have, by and large, been a wonderful experience. I have countless stories to share with other drivers over a cup of coffee at my favorite fuel stops or with my more stationary friends over a cold beer. I wouldn’t trade the things I’ve seen, the binds I’ve been in, or the successes I enjoyed, for anything. But the burden that has been laid on these old tired shoulders by bureaucrats and central planners has become more than I’m willing to bear. I’ll always yearn for the open road, but now I’ll have to satisfy that wanderlust in my pick-up truck. I’m pulling the parking brake on this Peterbilt for the last time.
Having spent well over twenty years myself as a freight-humper (ie, loading-dock ape) and -hauler, whose younger brother still slaves away in the industry*, I can understand the sentiment—although I must disagree vehemently with the risible notion that restrictive edicts that destroy livelihoods, erode liberty, and ruin lives are in any way “well-intentioned.” On the face of it, they cannot possibly be any such thing, being just one part of a well-established historical pattern that has never ended well for hoi-polloi kulaks such as truck drivers.
* When his dispatcher can even find any work for him, which has dried up almost completely thanks to the Biden Economic MIRACLE!©