Wheels of Justice
How a bad economy can improve our roads
Unless you have been in a coma for the past several weeks or have a short-term memory worse than mine, you are no doubt aware that the U.S. and world economies have seen better days. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen roughly 40% from its all-time high, and many people’s retirement plans have taken more of a beating than Rocky Balboa. Accordingly, the economy was the hot topic at the annual American Trucking Association meeting held in October in New Orleans.
All I know is that the time has come for our politicians to do something, and investing in our infrastructure sounds like a way to stimulate our economy and help the trucking industry. With that in mind, the next time you see a politician – any politician – tell them to start investing in our infrastructure. And who knows, it may even help save a job – theirs.
At its “All Eyes on the Economy” session, Bob Costello, chief economist and vice president of the ATA; Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist with Wachovia Corp.; and Dr. Peter Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association offered views on the state of the economy. Not surprisingly, none painted a very rosy picture of things to come. In fact, most agreed that we are either headed for or already in the throes of a recession. There was one more thing that speakers could agree on–investing in our nation’s infrastructure as a way to help stimulate the economy.
According to Dr. Ruane, investment in our nation’s roads and bridges was at the core of our nations economic development from the 1950s to the 1970s, and such an investment, if made today, could help resurrect the troubled economy. In fact, due to years of neglect, Dr. Ruane claims that $500 billion would be needed just to handle the backlog or repairs that need to be performed. This initial investment would not only have a positive impact on our economy by providing jobs and a tangible benefit to taxpayers everywhere, but would also allow the U.S. to maintain its position in the world order.
According to Dr. Ruane, by neglecting our nation’s infrastructure, the U.S. is at risk of falling be-hind emerging markets, further damaging the U.S. economy. This was echoed by Bob Costello, who said that problems associated with an old or neglected infrastructure system could result in manufacturers holding their goods in inventory for fear that they would not be delivered in a timely manner.
Jim C. Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker Ltd., an organization that provides legal defense protection to commercial drivers. Jim is a lawyer who focuses on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking, and he holds his Commercial Drivers License.