Thursday, May 22, 2008


Imagine if the “Save the Whales” folk harpooned one of the massive aquatic mammals and then dragged it to some sandy shore for a massive luau. Maybe their message of conservation would have been taken a bit more seriously, had the nightly news carried images of some crazed Greenpeace hippie voraciously tearing at a slab of freshly killed whale meat between diatribes about the looming extinction of the species. After all, hypocrisy is quite fashionable in contemporary society.

This same logic is being employed by several dozen independent truckers taking a protest ride on the Northway Thursday afternoon. Charles Claburn, director of the New York chapter of Truckers and Citizens United, said the solidarity ride from Exit 17 to Exit 16 is to protest the high fuel prices that have threatened independent truckers.

To draw attention to this plight, Claburn and a veritable convoy of his associates decided to simply waste a bunch of diesel fuel on a fruitless drive down the Northway. And while they’re at it, they can congest traffic so dozens of unassuming motorists can also experience the sheer pleasure of wasting precious gasoline stuck behind a slow-moving convoy. Way to go, Chuck. Waste fuel to protest high fuel prices.

Claburn’s message is largely aimed at the federal government, and how they should build more refineries and ease environmental regulations for drilling. Or perhaps they should set up a couple million derricks in the Arctic wildlife preserve, until the eggheads can figure out how to start burning whale oil in diesel engines. Without this, he contends the droves of independent truckers will lose their livelihoods thanks to a government that never formulated a functional energy policy.

It’s a message that is lost on the general public, which is already contending with price pangs of its own. It’s difficult to sympathize with truckers –an industry that has enjoyed a five decade-long stranglehold on the movements of goods across the nation –when many working class people are having a difficult go at it themselves. In fact, it’s difficult to fathom why anyone would sympathize with truckers at all, seeing as though their industry offers the most inefficient and environmentally unfriendly method of moving goods from point to point.

In essence, the trucking industry is at a crossroads. The industry must reinvent itself to remain viable in an increasingly hostile market. Eventually, shipping surcharges will grow to a point that it will be cheaper for consumers to simply rely on local goods. So Claburn’s theory of turning the coastlines into a derrick-laden oil refinery might help the pinch for a few years, but it’s not a long-term or viable solution.

The future of transportation lies in embracing and bolstering multi-modal methods. For instance, why move shipments from coast to coast by truck, when they could be moved cheaper and more efficiently by rail? That’s the question Paul Esposito of Railex in Schenectady County asked three years ago. Now, the start-up company is doing booming business, moving produce from Washington and California to the Capital Region in less than five days. Once a shipment arrives, trucks disseminate the produce throughout the east coast.

Esposito’s numbers are staggering, considering today’s cost of diesel. Each train carries roughly 200 truckloads of produce. With just two trains running each week, the company realized a weekly savings of more than 84,000 gallons of fuel. Adding it up, that 4.3 million gallons saved annually. That’s a nice savings when considering diesel fuel averages around $4.55 per gallon nationally and close to $5 in the Capital Region.

Ideally, train companies such as Railex would handle all long-distance hauling, leaving truckers to move goods within several hundred miles of a central terminus. It’s a solution that would stave off the ultimate demise of the trucking industry, lower the cost of goods and give rise to a more efficient mode of transportation. But it’s also a solution that would require truckers like Claburn to realize the good ol’ days of rambling carefree across the countryside are over. And they’re not coming back.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like there is a need to replace the railroad tracks into downtown Saratoga so the downtown stores could receive their supplies without the need to use trucks.

Wow, I must be dreaming. Saratoga NIMBYs become active whenever the railroad has a derailment over in the rail yard. However could they allow trains in town again! Oh well they complain about the trucks downtown too.

Actually less than car load freight has been gone from the railroads for over 40 years. I doubt Brindises and McDonalds could even, if they would, divvy up a railcar load of hamburger.

Trucks will still be needed, so we can continue to play the daily game of dodge-em on Broadway.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.

You really should try for a national audience for this, by putting it on Daily Kos.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a thought! While we're at it, let's make fun of wage-slaves who strike against low wages and in the process lose money. Idiots, right?

Fact is, those drivers were willing to dedicate the money necessary to bring this to public attention.

But the real question is not: "why did they think this would work?" but rather, "why weren't you out there with them?"

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If those guys wanted to have a real protest, they should have stopped their trucks on all four lanes, northbound and sounth, taken their keys, and walked away.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


As I've already opined, protesting high fuel prices is a redundancy. Protesting high fuel prices by wasting fuel is an oxymoron. Under the logic of these drivers, we should all be out on the highway burning fuel until the government magically comes to our rescue.

Hey, I'm all for activism. But this was just a pointless demonstration that even managed to garner media attention for some inexplicable reason. I sympathize with these guys about as much as I sympathize with any working stiff trying to make a living under these prices. But clogging up the Northway for 10 miles is just ludicrous.

If they wanted to stage a real protest -or at least a protest with some balls -they would have blockaded the state capitol just before rush hour. Or even better yet, the home of the federal Energy secretary.

But this is all hindsight bullshit. These bastards weren't even fathoming the future of their livelihood when diesel was $1.50 a gallon six or seven years ago. This is despite a nearly decade long trend at the pump and warning article after warning article more or less warning of impending disaster.

The time to think up a solution was 10 years ago, when there was no problem. And now that there is a problem, these guys STILL refuse to give voice to a viable solution. They just want to lower the cost and do anything to further them on the same futile path they're already on. It's this simplistic self-centered tunnel vision that has lead to the problem in the first place.

They'll get no sympathy here. Do I feel bad for these trucker? In a sense. But no where near as much as the worker driving an economical 4-cylinder car and paying one fifth of their salary to fill the tank.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today’s Gazette.
By J. Jude Hazard (Contact)

"MECHANICVILLE — Two railroad companies are joining forces on a $140 million venture to improve the track between Mechanicville and Boston, a venture that Mechanicville officials hope will bring business and industry to the city."

The above article shows a silver lining in higher fuel cost.
Higher prices will force Americans to do what we do best. We must start thinking outside the box again, becoming more innovative even if it means living a simpler life.
Gluttony and consumption have been embraced as an acceptable way of life.
People who have been flaunting their big houses, big cars, and big manicured lawns will soon be seen for who they really are.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Great Post. Horatio for energy secretary in the 1st Kunstler administration! :)

All these protests, the one-day boycotts, etc. are just empty calories of short-term gratification.

Actually, and I hate to invoke that horror-president's name, Jimmy Carter spoke about this even more than 10 years ago.

But America to date has refused to do the hard tasks that it would take to straighen out a problem like this. Now, much like compounded interest on a loan, it's just gonna get harder and more expensive.

I fear for the day that will inevitably come when the USA will lose control of it's agenda.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it?????????

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a guy on the financial channel 48 from one of those think tanks who thought gas would hit $15 a gallon in 2 or 3 years.
I know many will pooh-pooh this claim but when you consider the fact that China and India are putting 1 million new cars on the road each month you have to wonder.

I guess America no longer has the whole wide world in its hands anymore.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the government needs to do is get all those lazy fucks who are collecting disability and sucking the economy dry. Probably 70% who collect are able to work and even are working without claiming! That folks is a bigger problem in this country.

To preach of peace and brotherhood
Oh, what might be the cost.
A man he did it long ago
And they hung him on the cross.
Long ago,far away;
These things don't happen
no more, nowadays.

One man had much money,
One man had not enough to eat.
One man lived just like a king,
The other man begged on the street.
Long ago,far away;
These things don't happen
no more, nowadays.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breaker, breaker 19, you got a copy, Teddy Bear?

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Shot is dead-on-target in the message and the wake-up call championed by our own Citizen Kunstler. But the auto count is a wee bit India and China are currently adding 14,000 cars per day to the streets. But I wouldn't bet against "1 million a month" once they throw down enough pavement.

My money is on nuclear plants and electric cars. This ain't your Father's 3-mile Island... and every garage has the delivery system, the MAJOR shortcoming on the Hydrogen worshippers.And I think we all learned about the miracle of Ethanol. Pure cornball lunacy.

5:06 PM  

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