Monday, August 10, 2009

What is efficiency worth?

Ralph Nader, now more famous for his role in the 2000 Presidential election, made his bones by being a consumer advocate.

Among other things, Nader called out the Ford Motor Co. during the 1970s after dozens of U.S. citizens lost their lives because of the Pinto’s tendency to explode during rear-end collisions.

Ford didn’t correct the problem for eight years, reportedly because its internal “cost-benefit analysis” made such a switch cost prohibitive.

In other words, the human lives lost weren’t worth the money.

Major headlines following this weekend include President Obama traveling to Guadalajara to meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss, among other issues, allowing Mexican trucks into the United States.

In an article in this month’s Land Line, we pointed out the explosion of violence in Mexico, particularly in border towns. Some politicians and business interests argue the cross-border program would be more efficient, but as one trucking executive told us, these same heavy hitters aren’t willing to drive their families through a country fighting a three-way drug war.

More than 11 truckjackings occur in Mexico every day, according to the Mexican Attorney General.

It’s hard to imagine the U.S. recognizing cross-border trucking operations with a nation that doesn’t have a database for police cars or officers, much less drug or safety records for its truck drivers.

Read stories like this, and one sees the harsh realities of this proposed program.

But powerful interests are pressuring the White House to do what President Clinton would not do, and what President George W. Bush could not do.

No matter what happens during these first days following President Obama’s meeting with President Calderon, OOIDA and Land Line will be participating and reporting the truth about cross-border trucking.

If such a program is unveiled, American motorists will be sharing the road with drivers who haven’t demonstrated a safety record, clean drug tests, or an ability to understand and drive U.S. highways.

And countless U.S. truckers – somebody’s mother, father, son and daughter – will be asked to enter a nation that can’t slow down its rapid rise in violence.

But it will be more efficient.