paul’s words

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ROADS, TRUCKS, GROCERIES

Big cracks. Potholes. Chuckholes. Huge holes.

The roads are disintegrating. No, that’s not quite it. The roads are being pounded to smithereens. Big trucks. Big trucks with big loads. Big trucks, big loads, heavy loads. Lots of trucks. Huge tonnage.

Smashing the pavement.

Not only the “freeways” (no, they’re not “free”): city roads; county roads; country roads.

What are we gonna do about it?

Utah’s thinking about a toll road near the new gargantuan warehouses in Salt Lake County. But if that happens, says Dave Creer of the Utah Trucking Association, truckers won’t use it: the toll is “an additional cost”. “They will use secondary roads rather than pay a toll.” (The Salt Lake Tribune, April 2, 2006).

If an increased cost of doing business can just be passed on to the customer, why wouldn’t the truckers “pass it on”? There’s a limit. And it’s easier to have others pay costs - make everyone provide roads.

We need trucks and drivers. After all, we don’t grow our food much anymore: produce from Mexico; Ecuador; New Zealand even - fills our grocery stores. It has to be brought to the grocer somehow.

It’s remarkable that a banana costs not much more today (in actual pennies) than 20, 40, 50 years ago. How is that possible? Not only do we pay less to the growers, transportation costs must be smaller (or not have grown) - despite the price of diesel being ten times what it was a half century ago.

Bigger trucks with bigger loads, for similar fuel usage.

Truckers want us to pay for the roads they’ll use.

We’ll pay transportation costs, whether through higher taxes for roads or higher prices for food.

But if taxpayers build the roads, would we call it socialism for the truckers?

W. Paul Wharton