Time to fight
Jul 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Charles E Wilson
BY MOST accounts, tank truck carriers are having a good year. Fleets are busy, and load counts have risen to the point that many carriers have been turning away business due to capacity constraints.
This is a great problem. It is an indication that the US economy is on the mend and will continue to grow if left alone. Speaking during the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) annual conference in Chicago, Illinois, Bob Costello, American Trucking Associations chief economist, pointed out that tank truck loads grew at a 6.5% rate through March and tank truck revenue per mile increased by 2.8% during that same period.
The signs of improvement have been plentiful enough to encourage tank truck fleets to once again begin buying new tank trailers and some new tractors to handle the growth in shipments. What they are not doing is hire a lot of truck drivers or other employees.
This continues to be a jobless recession recovery for the most part. In real terms, somewhere between 15 million and 20 million American workers remain unemployed. Layoffs continue at a slower rate for some industries, and there are few indications to suggest businesses are ready for a significant expansion of the workforce.
Part of the blame — too much of it — falls on the Obama regime and its growing anti-business, anti-private-sector animosity. Samuel Skinner, another speaker at the NTTC annual conference, told attendees that Barack Obama is the most anti-business, pro-labor US President in years. Skinner served as Transportation Secretary and chief of staff under President George H W Bush.
This anti-business fervor in the Obama regime created a toxic environment that is not just stifling employment growth but is actually killing jobs across the US economy. For instance, the global warming legislation advocated by the Obama White House is designed to spur a rapid shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, many of which are still more fantasy than reality at this point.
Hundreds of thousands of thousands of jobs would be destroyed, including substantial numbers in the tank truck and storage terminal industries. Far fewer new jobs would be created based on reports documenting the European experience with alternative energy development.
The Obama regime seized on the BP oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico to re-energize the global warming legislation effort. The regime also tried to mandate a six-month embargo (struck down twice in the past month by the Federal Appellate Court in New Orleans, Louisiana) on drilling in the Gulf, a move that reportedly would cost at least 150,000 jobs in the region. Trucking and storage terminal industry jobs would be among those lost.
The attack on oil and gas, and the businesses built around those products, includes hefty new taxes, according to the American Petroleum Institute in new advertising campaign running in 10 target states — Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, and West Virginia.
“Americans have historically been suspicious of taxes on the industry that produces most of the energy they consume,” said Jack Gerard, API president and CEO. “They deserve to be informed about new proposals that would increase those taxes by billions of dollars a year. The ads are part of the national debate on energy and tax policy that would impact tens of thousands of jobs in each of these states.”
The massive tax increase needed to fund Obamacare, the recently adopted national healthcare program, also will kill existing jobs and stifle future employment growth. Skinner said the national healthcare program may very well become a national disaster.
However, all of those job- and business-killer programs pale in comparison to what is happening under the Obama regime at the Department of Labor and its agencies. Organized labor zealots and anti-business academics now hold dominant positions at DOL, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“Obama appointees running these agencies hate chemicals, chemical manufacturers, and the trucking companies that transport the products,” said Marcel Debruge, an attorney with Burr & Forman LLP, who spoke at the NTTC Tank Cleaning & Environmental Seminar in April. “Most have no business or workplace experience, and they are aggressively anti-business.”
These ideologues are carrying out an Obama regime campaign that is focused on vigorous enforcement that brings massive fines and even criminal prosecution and jail time for workplace infractions. Safety managers, in particular, are being targeted and threatened with jail time. Fines now start at $100,000 for many violations.
At DOL, existing regulations and laws are being used to achieve what the unions had hoped to accomplish with the Card Check unionizing effort. Unionized efforts are increasing across the public and private sectors, and are posing a serious threat to economic growth.
This is just the tip if the iceberg when it comes to the anti-business, anti-job initiatives emanating from the Obama White House. The Obama regime assault on US business and the US economy is non-stop, deliberate, and methodical. The tank truck industry — along with the business community in general — must fight back.
Trucking company executives must become engaged in the political process. They need to get involved in programs, such as the NTTC Political Action Committee that helps the association gain access to the elected officials who write the laws that impact industry. Company executives also need to play an active role in electing pro-business legislators at the state and national levels.
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