Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Heavier wagons take their toll

Those in Congress who want heavier trucks on our highways are clearly unaware of historical precedent. We now return to those ancient times. We join King Tony the Pugnacious of New Jersey whose Lord Chancellor has come to him most reluctantly with news.

“What is it, Lord Chancellor Eddie?”

“I bring bad tidings, my lord.”

“What is it?”

“First I must inform you of the wagon driver shortage, sire. It is bad and growing worse.”

“My kingdom is out of drivers? How can that be? Can’t women drive wagons? Can't children drive wagons? Have we used up all those Pennsylvania prisoners of war? Why are you bothering me with this?”

“There’s more, your highness. The boulder carriers have run out of oxen...”

“Let them barter with Delaware! They have lots of oxen down there. Why do you bring these troubles to me?”

“... and then there are the bridges ...”

“Bridges? What bridges?”

“Most of them, your greatness.”

“You’re babbling, Lord Eddie! Are you telling me we have a bridge shortage as well?”

“I hadn’t thought of it in exactly those terms, but now that you mention it, I suppose we do.”

“Drivers, oxen, and bridges! What has any of this to do with me?”

“It harks back to a decision you made, your excellence.”

“Ridiculous! I have never made a bad decision!”

“I am loath to speak these words. But it was your decree to waive wagon weight limits for the Boulder Association.”

“Nonsense. The Boulder Association is a fine bunch of fellows, a vibrant association of boulder providers and boulder carriers! They presented me with the Golden Boulder for my efforts on their behalf, you know.”

“A wondrous honor, sire.”

“It represents our great New Jersey boulder industry! Boulder houses, boulder offices! Boulder strip malls! So you're telling me demand for boulders is such that my kingdom hasn't the drivers or oxen needed to deliver them?”

“Nor the bridges, your excellence.”

“What on earth is going on here, Chancellor Eddie? How am I at fault here?”

“Before the waiver, your majestic-ness, the boulder carriers were limited to one boulder per wagon …”

“A wasteful restriction. The Kingdom of New Jersey is dedicated to productivity! Efficiency is good for all!”

“Perhaps, sire, but the waiver allowed the wagon companies to load two and even three boulders on a wagon.”

“Lou from the Boulder Association has assured me that was no problem. They reinforced the wagons and greatly improved the wagon brakes.”

“Indeed they did, sire. In fact, the boulder wagons can stop very quickly.”

“Then what’s your point!”

“The wagons may stop, sire, but the boulders do not.”

“So the boulders …”

“Yes, my lord, right over the drivers and over the oxen.”

“Surely they don't have to stop quickly very often, do they?”

“Stopping isn't the only problem, your greatness. Sometimes it’s the landing.”

“Landing? Whatever do you mean? Oh. You must mean ...”

“Yes, sire. The bridges.”

“I see. No problem, Chancellor Eddie. Summon Lou from the Boulder Association. They’ll pay for new bridges and devise safer transport. They’re very prosperous, you know. They’ll make everything right.”

“Well, your highness, that brings us a step closer to the bad news.”

”What can be worse than the loss of all those wagon drivers, oxen, and bridges?”

“Lou and the Boulder Association have fled New Jersey for the Empire of New York, sire.”

“They won’t last long there. We’ll block their accounts here!”

“That won’t matter, your highness.”

“Why won’t that matter, Chancellor Eddie?”

“Because of the bad news, sire.”

“Nothing can be worse than what you’ve already told me … unless …”

“Yes, my lord. They made off with your Golden Boulder.”