Non-Tribalist Politics Megathread

Topic for political discussion that follows one rule. When writing a post in this topic, you must consciously keep in mind the goal of not being a tribalist who hates the outgroup.

I think being really into politics and news is bad but I currently like to read and share a little bit.

Why Do We Take 40% of Trucks Off the Road?

If you’ve read any stories about the supply chain crisis, you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘trucker shortage.’ People just don’t want to drive trucks, so goes the theory, and so it’s hard to get enough people on the road to haul stuff. The American Trucking Association, which is a lobbying group for large trucking firms, likes to assert such a claim, alleging we have a ‘shortage’ of 80,000 truck drivers in the pandemic. The solutions to this shortage are things like more training, recruiting younger drivers, accelerating commercial license approvals, and education to show that truck driving is a great career. The White House released a trucking action plan based on these assumptions, including training, apprenticeships, faster licensing, and recruitment.

But what if we could wave a magic wand and increase the number of experienced, competent truckers, as well as all associated equipment like trucks and chassis, by two thirds? As it turns out, we can. It’s called paying truckers for their time. You see, right now, truckers are paid by the mile, and this creates the incentive to waste their time. If a trucker gets to a distribution center, he never knows if he’ll be there for 2 hours or 12 hours. The determining factor is whether the receiver needs what’s in the trailer at that moment. Those 2 hours or 12 hours, to the customer, are free. But to the system as a whole, that’s a lot of time where that experienced trucker and all his equipment isn’t on the road.

Currently, we have about 1.85 million truck drivers, and the current ‘shortage,’ according to the ATA, is 80,000 truckers. That means we need a boost in productivity of just 4.3% for truckers to ‘fill’ this shortage. In fact, as MIT researcher David Correll notes, truckers average only 6.5 hours of driving a day, but are legally allowed to drive 11 hours a day. “This implies,” Correll told Congress a few weeks ago, “that 40% of America’s trucking capacity is left on the table every day.”

I have not fact checked this. The author is a leftist who goes on to blame this problem on “deregulation” and even writes “regulators [in the past] upheld a pricing regime barring such destructive competition”, but I sometimes find portions of his writing reasonable. The part I quoted sounds generally reasonable to me – at least worth investigating more if I was going to try to understand the topic really well (which I’m not going to).

I haven’t investigated, but this conflicts with a prior belief I had. I’ve previously seen information about how truckers have to falsify driving logs because they are expected to drive more miles than is realistically possible given legally mandated rest time. This is allegedly widespread in the industry.

Both things might be true at once. How? Maybe long haul truckers do over 11 hours on some days and falsify logs on those days, and also have other days where they drive much less due to starting or ending a trip or waiting (waiting a bunch at a dropoff or pickup could actually contribute to having to drive more than you’re allowed, over the next couple days, to make up for lost time and get back on schedule). Meanwhile, maybe short distance truckers spend a lot of time waiting, average a lot fewer driving hours, and don’t ever falsify logs.

For economic reasons, this is probably either not true, or else there’s some really important reason (which he’s not telling us) why trucking companies need the truckers to wait. If the 2 to 12 hours were really completely wasted, most truckers would be willing to take slightly lower wages in order to avoid waiting, which would be to the benefit of both the company and the truckers.

edit: fixed the quote

Discourse’s quoting feature misquotes unless you select all earlier nesting levels in the text you’re quoting. You need to edit in a “>” to nest that quote which I didn’t write.

A recurrant theme from mid-20th century onward seems to be parties calling for reforms, saying they’re important, campaigning on them, but then when they get power not actually doing them. This is typically attributed to “politics” and falling just shy of whatever threshold is actually needed to get the stated reform done.

I was reminded of this by the very recent and apparent death of the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” bill because at least one moderate Democrat says he won’t vote for it. I read an article about that [1], complaining it wasn’t the first time for Democrats and referencing an older article about the failure include a public option in Obamacare [2]. But I can readily recall the same kinda thing happening with Republicans and stuff like repealing the estate tax and abolishing the department of education.

I don’t know whether these failures are because both party’s leadership don’t actually want what they campaign on, or whether they’re legitimately reflective of a population that is unable to reach something approaching consensus about any significant reform.

I contrast this with early 20th century alcohol prohibition. We got a super-majority of multiple political bodies in this country to pass a constitutional amendment (!) prohibiting alcohol. And then a little over a decade later we mustered super-majorities to pass another constitutional amendmendment to undo the first one. I believe (but don’t know) both measures reflected broad popular sentiment at the time.

Not that I think alcohol prohibition was good. I just think it was good that, as a country, we seemed capable of getting somewhere near a national and political consensus on “let’s try alcohol prohibition.” And then, a decade later, getting a similar consensus that “nah, alcohol prohibition isn’t working, let’s stop it.” We don’t seem capable of similar political decisiveness now.

NOTE: These references are highly tribal, and are provided in this thread only to give proper credit
[1] Biden Staff Did 'Inexcusable' Things: Manchin | ZeroHedge
[2] The Democratic Party's deceitful game | Salon.com

One explanation of some of this is David Horowitz’s position (discussed in multiple books) that the Democratic party (and more) was taken over by 1960s radicals/Marxists who did a long march through the institutions. This resulted e.g. in Saul Alinsky followers being recent Democrat presidential candidates (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton).

Another possible cause (also discussed in Horowitz books) is the influence of some political funders such as George Soros.

I’m unaware of compelling rebuttals to these claims.

What’s the relation? Do you mean that they don’t actually care about doing the reforms because “the issue is never the issue”?

If the Democrat party was reasonable in the past, but then became unreasonable when Marxists took it over, that would explain why bi-partisan agreement worked more in the past but then stopped working.

Stewart said some good stuff. Carlson was awful.

Stewart did influence the culture with his “comedy” show. That’s an inadequate excuse. But that’s no excuse for CNN. CNN should be held to a higher standard and should lead the way on doing good, serious stuff, rather than saying “well the comedy show is unserious so why are you complaining about us?”

EDIT: Followup: Jon Stewart Crossfire Recap - YouTube