Tags: gas | trucker | strike

Gas Prices Fuel Trucker Strike

Wednesday, 02 Apr 2008 01:22 PM

By E. Ralph Hostetter

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The worst possible economic news would be that independent truckers across the nation were going on strike. in actuality, that very news came Tuesday, April 1, and it wasn't an April Fools' joke.

A five-day strike was promised.

The backbone of America's economy is the vehicular highway that carries the major part of the nation's freight, particularly its food. Trucks bear the burden.

At least 350,000 of these trucks are driven by independent owner-operators, constituting a major portion of the freight-hauling carriers.

Each owner-operator makes his own truck payments and buys his own fuel. No large corporate entity is available to support these drivers.

While their truck payments are fixed by purchase contracts, their fuel costs are not. Many truckers have fixed carrier contracts. Most will have provisions for cost of fuel increases; others will be hard pressed to survive.

Denver-based MyFoxColorado.com reports that the average trucker is faced with diesel fuel costs averaging $4 per gallon. Long distance truckers are reporting diesel fuel costs rising to a total of $3,000 per week.

Some independent owner-operators are being forced out of business.

ThePittsburghChannel.com reports diesel fuel averaging $4.33 per gallon in Pennsylvania, up from $2.84 per gallon last year, an increase of 52 percent. Full tanks of diesel fuel for a big rig have risen from $780 last year to $1,200 this year.

The devastating results of a truckers' strike lasting more than five days could prove unimaginable.

While it is known, but not widely publicized, cities such as New York normally have a 10-day food supply. The distribution of food products, replacing the food supply over that period, functions very well with the uninterrupted daily delivery of foodstuffs by truck.

More so than an impending hurricane or blizzard, an interruption lasting five days, aggravated by a corrupt media with screaming headlines pointing out that New York City would run out of food in 10 days, would instigate food hoarding by individuals.

Individuals could find themselves rushing to overcrowded food outlets in an effort secure their own food supply to cover an impending shortage.

Some may remember the Patty Hearst kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 where a ransom of millions of dollars was demanded in the form of food handouts.

The ransom was finally paid in tractor-trailer loads of foodstuffs that were delivered to designated food market parking lots in California. On arrival, the trailers were open to the thousands of would-be recipients who crowded the area.

On opening the trailer doors, the crowds surged forward and began fighting over the food in the trucks. Food riots ensued and most of the remaining food was destroyed in the struggle.

The evening news showed the catastrophic results.

The shutdown of food delivery could cause such a calmity in the food markets of cities across the nation. One can only imagine the ensuing catastrophe that would develop in a large city with a major food shortage.

On a lesser scale, most small businesses today are not well enough financed to carry inventories of spare parts needed on a daily basis. In many instances, these companies would face shutdowns until replacement items arrived.

Meanwhile, a mentally challenged U.S. Congress has reduced itself to a group of handwringers bent on attacking the chief executives of the major oil companies.

The oil industry's top executives were asked to appear before the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on April 1 to explain their role in the rising costs of gasoline and diesel fuel.

The sheer hypocrisy of this move is exceeded only by the arrogance of the U.S. House Select Committee members who bear the responsibility for the very problem themselves.

It is the U.S. Congress that has forbidden these same executives of the major oil companies in the nation to explore and develop more oil resources in Alaska, ANWAR in particular, and the offshore oil reserves along the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

This same Congress has forced the major oil companies to find the resources necessary to serve the American public in other countries of the world to the extent that 60 percent of the nation’s petroleum needs must now be imported from other nations at set prices over which the United States has no control.

Some of these nations are declared enemies or potential enemies of America.

Imported crude oil that as recently as 1999, just nine years ago, cost the United States only $20 a barrel, adjusted for inflation to 2007 prices, has now risen some 500 percent to today’s market of $101 per barrel.

It has been the U.S. Congress that has forced this excessive cost burden on the American public. Had Congress levied a tax on petroleum to this extent, the American public would have taken to the streets.

Many in this country have been demanding energy independence, which is achieveable with the use of America’s hundred-plus billion barrels of reserves.

If Congress is seeking a culprit in the present energy crisis, it need look only at itself.

E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by email sent to eralphhostetter@yahoo.com.

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