Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Looking out for your best interest

When I was about 14 years old I remember seeing a commercial on TV about a proposal in Congress that would allow truckers to carry more trailers. It showed a woman driving down a highway -- possibly with some children in the car -- who was scared out of her mind because of a truck ahead of her with two or three trailers swerving all over the road. The commercial urged people to call their Congressman to register their opposition and prevent the legislation from passing. It was sponsored by the Association of American Railroads.

Anytime someone claims to be looking out for your safety or best interest you can be sure there is more to the story. We see the same thing today with the issue of Mexican trucks, with labor leaders claiming that they are too unsafe to be allowed on American roads
“Mexico has had 15 years to meet the safety standards set by Congress and until they are met, the American driving public doesn’t want these unsafe trucks on our highways,” [Teamsters union President Jim Hoffa] said.
It's completely bogus. In fact, in 2007 the Bush Administration implemented a "demonstration project" in which 107 Mexican trucks were allowed on American highways. The result?
Although protectionist critics have alleged safety problems with Mexican trucks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration -- the relevant oversight agency in the Department of Transportation --recently issued a report showing there had been no accidents involving trucks participating in the program. The Mexican trucks are constantly monitored while in the U.S. and must meet rigorous USDOT safety requirements. In fact, "Mexican trucks in the program have a better safety record than their American counterparts."
Meanwhile, the cost of taking cargo off of Mexican trucks and reloading it on to American trucks costs $400 million per year, which gets passed on to American consumers. Democrats -- the same people that claim to speak for the poor, many of whom have to pay extra for cheap goods imported from Mexico -- killed the program earlier this year as a payoff to their labor buddies. The Mexican government, understandably unhappy, slapped a number of tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation, which is already costing U.S. companies tens of millions of dollars in the midst of a recession.

To review: American consumers are being punished twice, both for higher transportation costs and tariffs, and we have needlessly angered a neighboring country. Such are the follies of protectionism and letting organized labor dictate economic policy.

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