There is nothing like hearing the voices of our readers, of the people who own and manage fleets across America, to bring news and events to vital, vivid life. Fleet Owner’s recent reader survey (see pages 8 and 36) gave us the opportunity to hear many of your voices loud and clear.
For the past few days before this issue went to press, I read and reread your comments to one survey question in particular: “If you could get Congress to do one thing to help your business, what would it be?” Even omitting the unprintable, your answers have been impossible to misunderstand:
- “Get out of the way and let us work.”
- “Get out of my business and leave me alone. I do fine without you.”
- “Let Americans work instead of restricting every move. If the willing can work, there would not be an economic problem.”
- “We have worked with the bureaucrats tying our hands long enough.”
In short, you said that you are sick to death of over-regulation, exasperated with the lack of congressional leadership, and tired of dealing with the consequences of well-intended but misguided meddling. But here’s the thing: In spite of it all, fleets are getting on with the job of trucking, no matter what. The industry’s slow-but-steady progress on any number of fronts is proof positive. It seems almost miraculous really, but there it is.
Just as I was mulling all this over, the March 16-22 issue of The Economist arrived, and you’ll never guess what the cover line was: “The America that works: A special report on the competitive surge that even Washington cannot stop.”
“Today, the country’s main businesses sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash, afraid to invest in part because corporate bosses cannot imagine any of Washington’s feuding partisans fixing anything,” the report notes. “Yet there is also another America where things work… In this second, can-do America, creative policymaking is being applied to the very problems Congress runs away from.”
The report goes on to cite numerous examples of things that are working, garnered from the “second America” side of the ledger, such as the fact that investment in research and development as a share of GDP recently hit the former high-water mark achieved at the peak of the space race.
“The main reason for cheer,” The Economist report notes, “is that beyond the Beltway no one is waiting for the federal government to fix the economy. At the regional and local level, America is already reforming and innovating vigorously.”
Does that sound like trucking or what? While Washington dithers, industry suppliers have introduced equipment to deal with new regulations and tough economic times. There has been an explosion in new technologies designed to make fleets safer and more efficient. And carriers have labored tirelessly to improve their operations from the maintenance shop to the street because there simply was no other choice but to get on with business.
Read the report if you can. Like trucking itself, it is as clear-eyed about the challenges and problems as it is about the promise of better things to come.