by Rick Manning
Pete Buttigieg is the United States Transportation Secretary elevated from his role as a failed presidential candidate and a marginally competent mayor of South Bend, Indiana. During his tenure, our nation has suffered from unprecedented supply chain disruptions ranging from on-going back-ups at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, where forty percent of our nation’s imports arrive, to airline pilot shortages which are causing thousands of flights to be cancelled during high volume travel days.
When the port crisis was at its worse, Secretary Pete was on maternity leave with a do not disturb sign on his door. Now, even as the crisis has not completely abated, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the implementation of a California state law known as AB 5 which promises a supply chain disaster. The law would reclassify many independent truck drivers as employees with no guidance on how about 70,000 California owner-operators can operate legally.
FleetOwner.com quotes Avery Vise, the Vice President of Trucking for Freight Transportation Intelligence saying, “There are going to be some operations that just say, ‘I can’t deal with this. I’m just going to leave California or I’m going to shut down altogether.’”
Jim Ward, President of the Truckload Carrier Association is concerned that the law, “will only serve to expand upon this country’s supply chain crisis.” What most people don’t know, but Secretary Pete should, is that the transport of cargo from ocean vessels will be disproportionately impacted by California’s attempt to force independent operator truckers to become employees with sites on future unionization efforts. The supply chain disruption resulting from this California state law is knowable, predictable and can be mitigated by the Department of Transportation.
On top of the potential loss of thousands of California independent truckers, a 2021 American Trucking Association report on driver shortages states that we already are suffering from a nationwide truck driver shortage of around 80,000 drivers. This shortage alone is putting severe pressure on our nation’s ability to meet just in time delivery requirements for our nation’s retailers and grocers, and the California assault on truckers will make it much, much worse.
When dramatically higher diesel costs pressuring already struggling truckers across the nation are included in this toxic mix, our nation’s economic vitality is at significant risk. As driving costs for the delivery of goods skyrocket, and trucks to deliver those goods become scarce, the high inflation reality will become even harsher.
The part that is needed to make the lathe or milling machine work, will cost much more and will likely arrive late. That means the cost of goods produced will go up and the cost to get those goods to their end destination will increase. Trucking makes this country work and driving those truckers out of their vehicles due to arbitrary work rules and high fuel costs serve as one of the chief causes for the systemic inflation that is overtaking our nation’s economy.
Yet, Pete Buttigieg remains dormant, safe in his cocoon of wokeness, and not intervening against California by ensuring that Interstate truckers will be able to pick up and deliver loads into California’s ports, isolating the impact of the formerly golden state’s war on commerce.
But Buttigieg, the bicycling transportation bunion, is not content to just ignore the predictable upcoming port crisis. Instead, he seems intent on not only allowing the disruption of the delivery of goods and food at the ports and throughout the country, but also is obstructing common sense legislation by Senator Lindsey Graham to alleviate the airline pilot shortage. Graham’s idea is to increase the mandatory age for airline pilots to retire from 65 to 67. After all, the age requirement is arbitrary and any fool knows that a pilot who was competent to fly on the day before his/her 65th birthday did not become incompetent because the clock struck midnight.
Yet, Joe Biden’s Transportation Secretary, the persistently incompetent Pete Buttigieg announced his opposition to extending the retirement age due to pilot competency fears. Ever obtuse, Buttigieg seems unaware that by refusing to agree to lift this age requirement just two years, even as President Biden himself nears 80 years of age and plans to run for reelection, is pure comedy gold.
The airline industry has been hit by a mix of early pilot retirements and a mandatory retirement age that forces experienced pilots to the sidelines and the result has been the breaking of the air travel system.
Just another supply chain problem that the inert Biden administration would rather watch fall apart than help solve.
When Pete Buttigieg took the Transportation Secretary job, he undoubtedly thought it would entail giving speeches, cutting ribbons, and handing out big checks for infrastructure projects while getting tight with big unions for his 2024 presidential run. Ill-prepared and clueless, Buttigieg has overseen America’s supply chains being shattered. Rather than relieving chokepoints, he seems content wandering around in the cloistered inner circles of the left accepting accolades for the job he refuses to do.
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Rick Manning is President of Americans for Limited Government.