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Will The Trucks Roll Tomorrow?


By James Donahue


It will not be an April Fool’s joke to Americans if truckers collaborate in a nation-wide strike that could bring business, industry and even the daily work-force to a halt. And the “strike” is tentatively set for Tuesday.


The call for a trucker shutdown had its origins in Missouri, where cattle hauler Dan Little used his web site to announce his plan to park his rig in protest to high diesel and insurance costs that are eating up the profits of his labor. A local news story found its way to the Drudge Report, and from there the idea has spread like wildfire.


No one knows how many truckers plan to park their rigs Tuesday, but some estimate the number to be in the thousands. The way the trucker grapevine works, with the word spreading via trucker stops, CB radio and now laptop Internet computers with satellite linkups, the shutdown could be a major event.


One day of parked trucks from shore to shore would have a powerful impact on the business of the nation. But what if the truckers decide to remain parked for as long as a week? If it happens, we could see grocery shelves go bare and gasoline stations closed for lack of fuel to sell. Stores and business offices could be closed, or short of staff because workers cannot buy gas to drive to and from their jobs. Factories that rely on daily delivery of parts will be forced to close.


When polled, most people say they sympathize with the dilemma facing the truckers and support the strike. What they may not like, however, is that the solution will mean higher shipping costs, which in turn will drive up the price of everything we buy.


In the meantime, if the truckers pull off a nation-wide shut-down, Americans will quickly learn to appreciate those big rigs that dominate our highways. Our system of commerce has moved over the years from local production and sales to a national and international system of moving goods and industrial parts. That we abandoned the concept of rail service and tore up thousands of miles of track, thus turning the task of moving freight almost entirely to trucks, is now turning out to have been a mistake.