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Nobody wants to take the blame for dirty water. But that isn’t the only reason we haven’t seen a truck stoppage — and won’t, even if diesel prices hit $5 a gallon. Why? Independent truckers seem to be the most vocal group on this issue, but when has the pain of any group of independent businesspeople been enough to stir more than emotion?

Independent bookstores, independent hardware stores, independent record stores…they’re all practically gone. Sure, we romanticize them occasionally. But we still shop at Amazon, Lowe’s and iTunes. There are plenty of big trucking companies to pick up where the smaller guys drop by the wayside.

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The idea of a truck stoppage isn’t going away. But as great as it would be, I question what difference it’ll make and whether truckers can pull it off — they have to eat and they probably don’t have money in the bank to ride out the sort of prolonged shutdown that would actually make a difference. That and they wouldn’t want any bad publicity from hospital patients not being able to breathe.

The idea is inspiring. But if you look at the truckers’ language cited in this post, particularly this:

“Our government officials are eating good dinners, are living in beautiful homes, are driving brand new vehicles and are collecting large salaries…on the American Citizen’s dollar. It’s time to take our country back.”

you’ll recognize one of the oldest notions of a capitalist economy: that some idle leeches are unfairly sucking the blood put of us honest hardworking Americans. The notion dates back to the 18th century and has only been marginally successful at prompting a more egalitarian society, or even one that values work more than other avenues to wealth, eg inheritance or investment or drilling for oil.

Good luck, truckers. In the 1980s, Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger sang about changing their names to Chrysler and getting a good ole government handout. This sample from the lyrics seems eerily up-to-date:

O the price of gold is rising out of sight
And the dollar is in sorry shape tonight
What a dollar used to get us now won’t get a head of lettuce
No the economic forecast isn’t bright
But amidst the clouds I spot a shining ray
I begin to glimpse a new and better way
I’ve devised a plan of action, worked it down to the last fraction
And I’m going into action here today

Today Arlo and Pete would change their names to JP Morgan and get a line of credit from the Fed.

Here is the sign about hospitals depending on trucks for oxygen:

Riding around in circles and honking horns was a great attention-getter for protesting truckers in Harrisburg on Monday. Some even got an audience with Hillary Clinton. But I wonder whether something more disorderly is needed for an actual change in fuel prices.

Lawmakers are busy “grilling” big oil in a congressional hearing. Why doesn’t someone demand a hearing in front of a panel of regular citizens?

At any rate, the truckers hoping to march on DC remind me of the farmers who converged there in 1979. I was too young to grasp the details or remember the outcome of the protest, dubbed tractorcade. But it seems to me that farming hasn’t gotten much easier over the last 30 years.

farmer-strike.jpg

This blog has gotten a few hits from people looking up information about a national truck stoppage, apparently scheduled for April 3. The stoppage is supposed to raise concerns over the rising price of diesel fuel. As a service to those readers, I’m posting this article and this article about a rally today in downtown Harrisburg on the same issue. The second one even has some video.

The hits, I think, come from my recent post about a sign on Route 30 that regularly offers chilling scenarios that would result if trucks were to stop. I’ll start posting some pictures as soon as I can take them.