Letters - August 23-30th 2010 Edition

Letters - August 23-30th 2010 Edition

A World Without Stimulus

It’s easy to forget that one of America’s best-loved movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was built around the idea of an apparent failure. But the resonating story line of the Frank Capra classic is about looking deeper to see the success that is really there, by envisioning what life would be like if one positive force had been left out. In today’s world of commerce, as we try to sort out what is failing and what has worked in this subdued recovery, two widely respected economists offer a vision of how the U.S. economy would have fared without the much-maligned stimulus program and other massive government rescue efforts. Their answer, in “How the Great Recession Was Brought to an End,” is that we would not have even ended the downturn by now without special federal measures including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the plunge would have been much more savage. Or if policymakers had used only the other recession-fighting tools and left off ARRA-type stimulus, they say about 2.7 million more people would be unemployed.

--John Boyd

Past the Peak?

The dark clouds for September and early October may be premature. Several carriers have said while at this very moment in time there is a slight softness to the market, forecasts for September and the first two weeks in October have virtually full ships. Maybe it is wishful thinking on their part, or a ploy to get the market to stay relatively calm for as long as possible.



Why the doom and gloom? The answer is simple but not simplistic. The business community has no faith in the president, and he is seen as not only anti-business but anti free markets. Throughout his campaign he said that we need to “change the economy” — but how? In a speech at the Cooper Union in March 2008, he expressed his distrust of free markets and announced his intention to fundamentally change American capitalism . . . At this point, it is all perception. Every action the president takes or espouses that does not support free markets or punishes success just reinforces the conviction that this administration just doesn’t get it. Instead it spreads FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt.


Trucker-Maintained Chassis Is the Way to Go

As a former executive of an ocean carrier responsible for a medium-sized chassis fleet spread out all over the U.S., I heartily applaud those carriers who have elected to follow Maersk Line’s lead in ending its practice of providing and maintaining chassis. It has been far too long in coming.

I have spoken and written on the subject of carrier-supplied chassis for years. Those fleets are inefficient, difficult -- if not impossible -- to control, and expensive to maintain. I empathize with my many friends in the drayage industry, but I believe that in the long run, those operators who adjust their pricing and operations to the new world order will find significant profit opportunities. They will be able to achieve operational flexibility, provide high-quality, well-maintained equipment and correct many of the problems they have experienced with carrier-supplied equipment.

It will require that they rethink their pricing, administration and, particularly, instill discipline in their dealings with customers. Up to this point, shippers have pretty much had a free ride with respect to their usage of chassis and containers. Hopefully, that will change when it is the trucker who is footing the bill for equipment that is being used for storage.

-- Dave Letteney

Wynn’s Win-Win Take on Business in China, US

Gary Ferrulli’s Aug. 9 column, “Voices of Concern,” did a masterful job of discussing a complex problem (mostly by design, I believe), and presenting it in such a way so that the casual reader could easily grasp both the subject matter and the dire consequences of the actions of our government, which seems hell-bent on destroying the capitalist system as we know it.

It was also great that you were able to weave in Steve Wynn’s (love the guy!) comments, particularly with respect to the comparison of doing business here and in China. Who would have ever thought a Chinese Communist government would embrace and promote free-enterprise business practices more so than our own republican form of government?

Keep up the good work!

--Richard M. Biter
TransGov Consulting Inc.

Setting Priorities

Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich has come out in favor of transferring to Ohio’s bridges and roads funds allocated for high-speed rail passenger service (“Kasich Urges Spending Shift From Rail to Ohio Roads,” http://www.joc.com/government-regulation/kasich-urges-spending-shift-rail-ohio-roads).

There was nothing in Mr. Kasich’s statement that suggests he would expect Ohio truckers (or truckers from any other state, for that matter) to pay fuel and other excise taxes that would cover their allocable share of the costs of building and maintaining Ohio highways and bridges.

Mr. Kasich’s proposal would increase existing subsidies to truckers.

This is the kind of mindless political pandering that prevents the U.S. from achieving the expanded transportation capacity that an expanding population and growing economy require.

--Lawrence H Kaufman
Golden, Colo.

The Journal of Commerce welcomes your opinions. Letters, which should be 300 words or less, can be e-mailed to Paul Page, JOC editorial director, at ppage@joc.com.