HB 3781 – The Mother of All Bills – or is it Bombs?

You probably didn’t realize it, but preparations to drop a financial MOAB on the US was introduced on July 16, 2019 by US House Representative “Chuy” Garcia D-IL-4 in the introduction of a bill to increase the limit on commercial insurance per the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. That limit stands at $750,000 combined single limit (CSL) for bodily injury and property damage in an accident. Most carriers have limits of $1 million CSL in coverage, as opposed to the $750,000 CSL.

The proposed increase would take the limit to just under $5 million CSL.

Hmmm. Seems a tad aggressive.

So, what is the logic behind it? According to Rep. Garcia and the bills co-sponsor, Rep. Matt Cartwright D-PA-8, there is an imbalance of the limits in relation to what the rise in medical costs have been. Is that correct? Most likely so. Does that justify an increase in limit coverage across the board in an industry that moves the US around the clock? That would be a no, as in hell no.

The Sponsors of HB3781
Matt Cartwright appears to be the genesis of the bill with the draft of House Resolution 3383, which became 3781. He had versions of this he sent to the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure in 2015 and 2013 as well that died in committee. In research of his background, he practiced law with his wife for 25 years before seeking Congress and personal injury was an area of practice. From 2009 to 2012, he was on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. As such, I think there is little doubt that this bill has its roots in the practice of personal injury. Does that make Cartwright an evil man? No, but he may have tunnel vision on the bill and not be aware or recognize the negative impact it can have to the US economy.

Chuy Garcia sits on the House Committee for Transportation & Infrastructure and on its Subcommittee for Highways & Transit. Cartwright sent the bill to him to introduce into the Subcommittee. Garcia’s father was part of the post WW II bracero program as a farm laborer. In 1965, he was able to move here as a permanent resident. His background shows more of care of immigrants, with a focus on the Latino community. While he definitely in the progressive mold, this bill would appear out of his focus. I can only think that he has seen some crashes where there was insufficient insurance to care for victims in crashes. However, he was a backer of Bernie Sanders and his platform in 2016, so he may harbor a view of higher coverage for all regardless of cost. His background does not lend to a large view of the potential impact of the bill.

Is this really feasible?
You know, I may “need” 5 million dollars of life insurance. I may be able only to afford $500,000 due to the cost. I don’t think that Reps Garcia and Cartwright, while solid on the increases in medical costs in logic, understand you cannot insure ALL risk. That is the real issue here.

For folks in trucking, they know what’s at stake – massive increases in their truck insurance premiums. If the “average” truck liability for $1M CSL is from $6000 (large fleets and perfect in every way) to $16000, the thought might be that their insurance would go up by 500%. That is the percent increase to go from 1M to 5M in coverage. However, it would not be that severe. Rate banding, discounts, and other rabbits from the hat would offset some coverage increase shock, but it’s fair to say that premium would at least double. So, the outfits paying say, $12000 a truck go to $24000 a truck. Hmm.

Could be some fallout.

For some perspective, let’s say your auto, home, and health insurance double next week because a law says you need higher limits of coverage is passed. Would that impact your pocket book a smidge? Have we not been here already with the Affordable Care Act (Barry Care) and seen what a disaster that is for the feds to play in insurance?

Potential Fallout
The reason I used MOAB in the title (Mother of all Bombs) is that this bill has far reaching scenarios or blast radius as I like to call it. I will go through them so you get the picture, because it touches everyone.

  1. You saw my conservative projection on the rate increase for trucking companies. Most trucking is NOT done by the Big Guys, rather 80 to 85% are smaller firms, so the increase will whack them the hardest. You double their premiums and they have one of 2 choicespass on the cost to shippers who pass on the costs in higher goods to YOU John & Jane Citizen OR they close their doors. Shippers won’t take the increases – at first, so I predict a mass closing of trucking companies. They simply will not be able to get the freight at the price that will make the increase feasible.
  2. If a mass of trucking companies close, that will ripple through the economy. Class 8 truck values will drop off the cliff due to repossessions as the trucks for small firms are not operating. Financial lending/leasing companies take a big ole hit. Wait, there’s more! Those people who just went under will lose their personal cars, homes, etc. Remember 2008?
  3. Capacity for the shipping of goods shrinks. Now, could the Big Guys absorb some of the little guys going under? Yes, but not all and they are going to be impacted as well and I will get to that. So, less trucks to move goods means it costs more to move the goods and this time the shippers will have to choice but to take the cost increase. Of course, they pass it on to the consumers.
  4. Big Guys trucking companies will feel the changes as well. Even if they are on the perfect end of the rate scale, doubling of premium is doubling of premium. IF they self-insure, they still have to post bonds with the FMCSA showing financial responsibility and that is going to cost more as well. These Guys have contracts where they can pass costs to shippers and they will. Then the shippers pass costs back to John and Jane Citizen in higher prices for goods.

In every possible scenario, this bill has devastating impact to trucking and consumers will ultimately pay more for goods. There is zero chance to avoid it if this bill becomes law.

The Insurance Companies Weigh In
One item this bill does not consider is market capacity for this type increase of coverage. Truck insurance is under tremendous pressure to stabilize and return to profitability. Increases in frequency and severity are driving up premiums. Lawsuit financing has changed the litigation game for insurance carriers now in longer and more costly settlements. Nuclear lawsuits such as the Werner Case have insurance companies already considering exiting the market. Passing legislation requiring them to bite off more exposure could have unintended consequences of insurance companies exiting the market, reducing truck insurance capacity and driving premiums up even more. Yikes!

Another Potential Unintended Consequence
I keep the pulse around the nation on potential bills like this. I already know of 4 Democrat controlled states that have seen this bill and are considering something similar to personal auto insurance. That little comparison thought I did earlier was grounded in possibility. Most state mandatory limits for auto insurance are very low and the same argument for increasing limits could be made. So, the feds messed up health insurance. This example could get the ball rolling for states to mess up your auto insurance.

Solutions
The root cause for a bill like this is not just an increase in medical costs. As stated, the frequency of accidents with semis is increasing. Not a day goes by where some form of negative press is out there on an accident. That is being caused by a number of factors, with (in my opinion) the biggest being an influx of new drivers who get minimal training before being issued a CDL to drive an 80000 lb rig PLUS the freight way too soon. To correct this and reduce insurance payout for frivolous suits I would suggest the following:

  • Increase in hours of training – substantially. Fed funds already go to schools to train. While I hate federal spending, due to the importance to the US trucking provides in moving goods, we should consider paid training for those truly committed to becoming drivers.
  • Increase in driver pay and benefits. If you know what these folks do and the profit margin right now they deal with, it’s a short discussion.
  • Tort Reform – I am NOT talking about ending insurance for legit claims. What I am talking about is regulating the loan shark world of lawsuit financing as well as limits to what safety violations pertaining to accidents could and could not be used for payments. The Werner Verdict is prime example.
  • Roll back the ELD regs to common sense. While we hear its coming, this has lead directly to more accidents and higher insurance for trucking.

How to get involved
You can reach Rep Chuy Garcia at his website https://chuygarcia.house.gov/. He has multiple options on contact.

Rep Mark Cartwright’s website is https://cartwright.house.gov/. He also has multiple options for contact.

The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee for Highways & Transit is: https://transportation.house.gov/subcommittees/highways-and-transit-116th-congress All the members for this Subcommittee, who will vote to get it out to the floor for vote, are listed. Please contact them and stop this bill now.

A Bad Bill with Good Intentions
HB 3781 has good intentions.

Think we have all heard the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

 

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Big Brother Reaching Out

You may not realize it, but there is a revolution underway in how goods and services are being delivered to you. It’s not a friendly revolution either – millions of jobs are at stake in the near term and the long term capability of being able to care for oneself is being placed into the care of a machine. Machines that don’t give a rats ass about you or me.

The revolution is in transportation – trucking, shipping, and rail are all having massive pushes by technology to either reduce the roles of humans or drive them out entirely. While I am a capitalist, I also support labor. If we don’t have a workforce, you don’t have a tax base. Without a tax base, well the US goes in the toilet and Big Brother takes over. This is just one of many reasons “free stuff” from the government is never free, but that is a topic for another blog.

Right now there is a crisis in labor in transportation where those doing the work are over worked, over regulated, and under paid. Freight rates for all sectors is tight and each sector is scared to death to pass costs down to the consumer. So instead, they squeeze costs and labor is being wrung out in a big way. If tech could replace humans right now, these sectors would jump on the bandwagon. However, tech is not ready to be the savior. So, you have “driver shortages” and companies fast tracking drivers that can be hired to market with less than adequate training. The result is issues in safety and fights for drivers.

Now, Big Brother in the form of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA has deemed it necessary to get input from the public on issues that they have no knowledge of and most don’t care about. I have been working on getting the message out on caring about transportation for those that like to eat, but I cannot speak for the rest of you.

So, I am going to share some FMCSA requests, with my opines.

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/notices/2019-09944– Pilot Program to allow drivers under 21 without military experience to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. To date: 326 comments received. All comments must be received by July 15, 2019. As of July 3, the American Trucking Association has requested a 30-day extension, not guaranteed to be granted

Darren’s opinion – In English, the FMCSA wants to reduce the age from 21 to 18 because young upstarts will work for less. That does not give them any better training or reaction time behind the wheel. Remember that trucks weigh 80000 pounds before their trailer. Think teens can do damage with cars……

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/safe-integration-automated-driving-systems-equipped-commercial-motor-vehicles– Automated Driving Systems (ADS) for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs); Request for Comments Concerning Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) Which May Be a Barrier to the Safe Testing and Deployment of ADS-Equipped CMVs on Public Roads. To date: 156 comments received All comments must be received by July 29, 2019.

Darren’s opinion – read my last blog on Robo Truck and you will understand why this is not the right move.

Soup kitchens were a staple in the Depression. If autonomous vehicles wipe out a sector of labor, you will see them again – DY.

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/notices/2019-12167– Request for Information Concerning Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Detention Times During Loading and Unloading. To date: 324 comments received. All comments must be received by September 9, 2019

Darren’s opinion – how would you feel about be required to hang around for hours, not get paid for it, AND its prevents you from making more money?

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/notices/2019-13014 – Entry-Level Driver Training; Application for Exemption: United Parcel Service, Inc. To date 23 comments received. All comments must be received by July 19, 2019

Darren’s opinion – what is Brown trying to do to you? Make the streets far more dangerous. Does this really need an explanation?

So, Big Brother is reaching out for the general public’s opinion. Most American’s do not have a clue as it is not being advertised, publicized, blasted on social media, or ANYTHING! Do all of us a favor and take this blog to heart, do a little research, and give Big Bro more responses than they can deal with.

The people that make sure you have grocery stores with food and gas in the underground tanks at the gas station will thank you.

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Robo Truck

There will always be a debate on the improvement technology has on society. I am seasoned enough to remember a life before cell phones and the internet. While you can get items faster and more done with less time, are we really better off? A demand for it “now” combined with the stress that “now” creates has not made us better human beings. The current generation are becoming shut-ins and are losing the ability to have human interaction such as a basic conversations, read a book, or perform actual hand written communications in the name of progress. Question is – what are we progressing to?

Optimus Prime
Unless you have been under a rock, you should recognize the above as Optimus Prime from the Transformers movie franchise. I use it as a silly illustration of what the future could hold for the trucking industry.

Why Should I Care?
For most of America, they are either oblivious to what trucking does or so damn hung up on sharing the road with trucks that no one stops to think of the value or need trucking does for the US. Let’s keep it simple – do you like to eat? My guess is that you do and unless you are a farmer, you go to the store to get groceries. Same thing with fuel. I assume you like driving whatever you drive and pulling into a gas station to fill up is a reflex action now. It does not occur to most people that the groceries and gas don’t just appear magically. Truckers bring all of those goods (plus everything else you buy) to those shopping destinations. Remember that next time you cut off an 18 wheeler…

The Human Haters
Generation Shut In does not like human interaction or humans for that matter. The creative ones that have been able to bring human-less technology into the world are not doing it to make your life better or easier – they are doing it to get people hooked on the tech to the point they never want to leave their home and make them loads of moola. Why the hell would you buy clothes from Amazon when you can go to a store and get it right there? All of the artificial intelligence and robotics coming into society are designed to replace humans – not augment them. Generation Shut In is still living with mommy & daddy (cause they don’t want to work) and being trained for this autonomous life. What do you think happens when the folks croak and junior has no people or jobs skills? Oh – that’s a political discussion on the enslavement of the free for another day.

Autonomous Trucks
There is a push from several stakeholders to roll out self-driving semi trucks as soon as possible. These groups include

  • Tech companies poised to rake in the dough
  • Large trucking firms who don’t want to pay drivers
  • Idiotic consumer groups that think these trucks will be safer
  • Lawyers – hey they know a cash cow when the see it in Strict Liability
  • Politicians on powerful committees looking to get their pockets lined from the above to stay elected

The story is trucks can be adapted into the US faster than cars because they can make money, therefore getting a faster ROI. Long haul stretches where there is “no needed human interference.” Hold that thought, I will come back to it.

But hold on Homer – the auto-bus has not left the station just yet. Now, there are tests being conducted around the nation using semi-autonomous trucks. It’s is what is called Level II – braking, acceleration, and steering where these function can be automated. A human must still be in the unit in case it hits the fan. Personally, I see this level of automation on all semi trucks very soon and drivers and companies can benefit from this.

Level IV is where Optimus Prime is here to stay. Go away stupid human – we don’t want or need you.There are companies in the EU playing with this. Even some US tech companies playing with Level IV in tests. I think that they should have had a chat with the companies making Level II autonomous cars and the 5 billion dollar rabbit hole and see how much fun that has been and its current status.

Obstacles to Autonomous Semi Trucks
So let’s have this brawl now, while the industry can be saved and people still can have jobs. Here are a few hurdles:

  • There is no insurance for autonomous. I mean not one damn drop. What that means is whomever produces these rigs is self insuring any form of loss. So, whether its the physical truck maker, the software that controls the rig, or any of the hundreds of components on a truck – they bear the costs for any and all claims. It’s called Strict Liability and NONE of the companies out there are prepared. As suckhole as insurance is, the billions it pays in claims keeps the USA rolling. Don’t tell me these units won’t have wrecks on interstates. Werner was hit with 90 million on a verdict where they did nada wrong! Think Daimler-Benz is prepared to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars every time their truck crashes? Doubtful. The software companies seeing dollar signs now will be bankrupt from lawsuits in less than 3 years into roll-out if it occurred to today.
  • There is no interest from the current manufacturers for Level IV. The truck manufacturers already are nervous rolling out Level II. They understand what Strict Liability means and want no part of that. How do I know – well I have talked with several reps. Now, that does not mean they will not perform research & development in anticipation of a potential change in laws.
  • Infrastructure. While tests are being conducted on higher levels of automation, no one will admit the US infrastructure is ready for this technology. Lots of work and loads of money have to be spent to make this work everywhere. Even the interstates are going to require investment to go more than just testing.
  • Security Issues with software. When the FMSCA rolled out the electronic log device mandate (ELD), you know the process was never thought through. The devices can and have been hacked. A fully autonomous rig will be a target for hackers seeing what fun they can have with the unit. Trucks weigh 80000 pounds PLUS their cargo. Do you really want that to become a weapon of mass destruction?
  • Legislation. Now I know I called the politicians out as green lighting the research. However, there is a difference in R&D and giving the go ahead to wipe out an entire sector of workers. Workers will lose jobs and support chains for them will lose jobs. I can see a massive force of people with pitchforks and torches coming after DC if they really pull the trigger on this without much thought. Think about it – how often do politicians pass a bill and not think the damn thing through? Politicians like getting elected and people vote and robots do not. At least for now.Voting-Robots-2425
  • People. This one above all else is the real determining factor. Does the everyday populace really want 80000 pound driverless weapons rolling around? Are truck drivers going to just roll over and play dead on this issue? Are the American Tax Payers really going to foot the massive cost for an infrastructure that seeks to replace their human condition?

Now, I am in no way naive to think that this train is not coming sooner than later. However, I also know that all of the automation roll outs for trucks has not been thought all of the way through in how it will negatively impact humans. All tech people do is spin is their opinion on positive impacts they believe will occur. I have yet to hear a cost/benefit analysis of any type from these groups.

What I have listed scratches the surface. Who is responsible for the jobs lost if this actually happens? Who pays to re-train an entire sector? Is re-training even realistic? Is automation a subversive plot to enslave civilization? OK, maybe that was too dramatic….

Or was it?

Are you ready for Robo Truck?

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A Verdict by Any Other Name is Insane

Its hard to stay focused on one segment of news with all the nonsense in the air. When I made the decision to get back on the keyboard, the focus on trucks was intentional. Yes, I sell truck insurance. Yes, I have a radio show that talks about trucking news and legislation. Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for truckers. It goes back to childhood.

But that’s not the reason I try to laser in on transportation right now. Good, bad, or otherwise, I like this thing called America and Western Civilization and right now it is under attack. Not from leftists (I know I’ll get email on that) or any of the other political nonsense that fills cable TV and radio airwaves. That garbage may influence and/or change it, but it does not truly threaten to end it. Not yet, at least.

No, right now the real threat is from lawyers. Personal Injury ones to be specific. How, you ask? Well, they are on the verge of killing trucking as we know it. I mean end it – fine. They threaten the ability for trucks to move goods and since 100% of the goods in the US are moved by trucks (70% in origin, 30% in secondary), we are talking about stopping shipping of food, fuel, and other nice oddities. Don’t know about you, but I kind of enjoy some degree of food.

Can’t be, you say.  Well, let me elaborate. Trucks require insurance per federal law to move goods around the good ole US of A. Right now, truck insurance is at an all time high for premiums. Rates are so high that trucking companies cannot afford the insurance and are packing it in. When trucks cannot afford insurance, they close. If they close, that is less trucks to move goods. Less trucks to move goods drive up prices on goods and reduces the supply. Make no mistake, the cost of insurance factored into the closing of 2 large trucking companies this year with New England Motor Freight and Falcon Transport.

The are many factors leading to increased insurance costs – distracted drivers, demand for “faster freight” & less experienced drivers in trucking causing the frequency of accidents to increase, as well as sloppy insurance claims handling. However, cause numero uno is lawsuit payout and insurance companies beginning to re-think this thing called truck insurance. The genesis of this is fairly recent with the influx of a new finance arm into lawsuits called lawsuit financing. This was introduced by none other than George Soros. George has figured out a way to destroy America and he does not have to pay another politician a dime.

Lawsuit financing has enabled lawyers in ways they never dreamed of. In years past, they had to evaluate a case, predict a possibility of success, and decide if they want to invest their money in a case. In fairness, there were (and will still be) cases were people got screwed over on their claims from insurance companies – insurance companies bear a high degree of culpability in this. However, the pendulum has now swung in the other direction in such a manner that a sector of the economy is threatened. That sector allows you and me a great standard of living.

Here is how it works: an accident occurs and lawyers now have access to software to let them know the drivers, passenger, and insurance company involved. They contact the party that was hit and get representation. Mind you, this is for the more juicy injuries. Whiplash is down on the list. They tell the person they can get them an “advance” on their settlement so they can feel better now. No paperwork, no disclosures. One little issue – if they lose, the person pays the money back at loan shark rates of 100% or more. Since it’s an advance and not a loan – no usury laws apply. The best thing for the lawyer is they don’t have to put their money into the suit. This means they can file more suits! Oh happy day!

With more money in their pockets, lawyers have spent time on devising better strategy on how to soak insurance companies and trucking companies. Insert the NUCLEAR verdict. A nuclear verdict is one where a court awards an amount outside of insurance policy limits, but the insurance company still has to pay. How does that happen? A lawyer gets a carrier charged with bad faith in the lawsuit. Now, I know what you are thinking – damn insurance company should have paid the claim! When that occurs, I am right there with you. But that is not the case in the majority of claims. When the lawyers get representation, they send the insurance company a demand for policy coverage details. No carrier is going to send it over, as it is basically an admission of liability. However, by NOT doing this, they are subject to potential bad faith claims with juries.

My final reason for loathing lawyers – they have figured out how to take logic and reason out of a lawsuit. In the 2018 case Werner Enterprises V Blake, trucking company Werner Enterprises was hit with a $90 million (90 FREAKIN MILLION) verdict for killing a child in an accident that occurred in West Texas in 2014. Here are the facts – the Blake’s were driving on one side on 820 in inclement weather going in one direction. The Werner truck was on the other side of the highway, divided with a median, going the opposite direction, meaning they were travelling towards each other. The Blake vehicle lost control, hit the median, and came across and hit the Werner truck. Those are undisputed facts. So why was Werner tagged?

The lawyers for the Blake family got the Safety Manuals from Werner Transportation and determined that the driver in the truck was in violation of company safety by being on the icy road with the amount of experience they had. Had the driver not been driving, the Blake’s would not have hit the truck. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! Did someone consider that maybe another vehicle would have been there instead of the Werner truck? Would they have been guilty of driving in the path of a vehicle looking for a wreck? Doubtful, as this is targeted at trucking companies.

There is a reason we call this a nuclear verdict – the fallout has been like a nuclear bomb. This case is one of many just like it around the US in the last 2 years where trucking companies are being held responsible for accidents that no reasonable person could find them liable for. Safety manuals and potential violations are replacing accident site facts. Insurance companies are scurrying like cockroaches in the kitchen when the lights go on. Several insurance companies have left the trucking sector. More will follow. Reinsurance companies are pulling back from trucking risks. What this means is less options for truckers with dramatically higher and unsustainable prices for their insurance.

So how does this impact you and me? Well, if those trucks cannot find or keep insurance, they either self insure or they shut down. Only 10% of the trucking companies self insure, the rest are too small to afford that risk. In what is otherwise a solid economy with great numbers, trucking companies are quietly biting the dust. If trucks quit rolling…… Use your imagination. How long can you last on Ho Ho’s and crackers when the food and gas stop rolling? IF you think the government  can help, think again. There are 2.3 million trucks in the US that keep civilization rolling. The feds or state governments don’t have that. Hell, they contract with the private sector for emergencies. If you want an example of how bad things can get and how quick, look back at Brazil in 2017 when they had a trucker strike.

Not a fan of the personal injury lawyer.

How about you?

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He is Risen, So Brothers and Sisters Why Do You Sleep?

1635Rembrandt_vanRijnTheResurrection

This weekend Christians celebrate the most holy of events – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While the life and times of Jesus are amazing, his death offers hope to all who believe and have faith.

Now I mix two verses in the title to grab attention. Luke 24: 6 “He is not here, but is risen!” refers to the two men in shining garments talking to the followers of Christ who had come to the tomb and did not find his body. Just as powerful is Luke 22:46 where upon returning to the 12 disciples from prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ find them sleeping from sorrow and proclaims  “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

He IS Risen!

So brothers and sisters, why do you sleep? Are you asleep in your faith in God and his son Jesus Christ? Are you asleep in involvement with your family and making it a Christ centered home? Are you asleep in attacks on Christianity and its teachings, both verbally and physically, around the globe?

In full disclosure, as a sinner and believer, I have been in and out of sleep throughout my life. However, I have never been more awake than I am now.

In faith in the Resurrection, there is hope for what lies beyond this plane of existence. I have watched just about every movie that depicts the life and death of Jesus. Some are better than others. “Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly is OK. I thought some details were left out that should have been included. I do think this version probably has an actor that is more likely what Christ really looked like. Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”  I personally find the best, yet most horrific in its depiction of the violence Jesus went through. I cannot watch the scourging scene…. Once was enough to paint a lasting picture in my mind. As a father of 4, 3 of which are sons, I must confess that I do not have the strength to sacrifice any of my children for any greater good. I am selfish here. When I think of the pain that God, the father, must have went through to sacrifice Jesus for our sins….. It is unbearable. God gave this sacrifice so that you and I and any that have faith will live forever!

That is something to get excited about!

So my brothers and sisters – wake up from the slumber. Shape your family and community. Stand up for our beliefs. Speak the truth in the word of God. If you find that you are so far off the path that you need help and have no one to sturdy your feet, contact me and I will direct someone to you.

And remember – HE IS RISEN!

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Big Brother Behind the Wheel

There is a debate going on in the US Congress, as well as State Assemblies and Legislatures on how to fix our nation’s infrastructure. I have already shared where in excess of a trillion dollars has been funded since 1992, but work still needs to be done.

The vehicle gas tax is the current tool used, but it has not been updated by the feds since 1992 and to get it to where it needs to be would add $1.60 to each gallon of gas. That would cripple the nation, so while we can expect some sort of increase, other methods are being reviewed.  One such source is Vehicle Miles Traveled or VMT.

There is a thought in the fed circles of government that not all drivers are paying their “fair” share to fund the roads, even if you are paying at the pump. A greater distribution of payment for those that drive more should be instituted. Our friends in the trucking business know this feeling all too well as several states in the US are and have been enacting “trucker only” tolls to get a “fair share” revenue for usage. Forget the fact that Western Civilization dies without the trucker……

The idea behind VMT is simple – tax you for the miles you drive. The Congressional Budget Office in 2011 came out with a report under the Administration of Darth Vader (aka Barry Obama) about methods to fund highways. It’s too lengthy to insert, but here is the link: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/22059#section0 . You can download the document and I suggest you do so. When you read about potential taxes on VMT, you can tell the office knew they had a topic Lord Obama would like.

So how does VMT work, well you are seeing samples of it in driving right now. One insurance carrier, who I won’t name and publicize, has a device you insert to accurately record your miles for a discount off your policy. Now, this is voluntary mind you and the insured is granting this permission. Our friends over in trucking have never had the luxury of “voluntary” anything and have always maintained a record of miles driven. With the mandate of Electronic Logging Devices, or ELD (another product of Lord Barry’s tenure in office), truckers now have an electronic leash they maintain that keeps ticking when they drive.  ELD’s were supposed to make driving safer for truckers. Drivers are federally mandated to take 30 minutes of rest for eight hours on the road AND cannot exceed 70 hours worked in the week. ELD was going to ensure these guidelines are met.

A recent study by Northeastern University, Michigan State, and the University of Arkansas show that ELD’s may actually becoming a cause for unsafe driving http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=73710#.XIKATk2os5s so forcing people to monitor miles may not be the system to use.

Which brings me back to VMT. For this to work, you and I have to be willing to allow the feds to install some form of monitoring device on our cars to track miles OR we will have to fill out paperwork and turn in for road tax purposes. There are loads of issues with this from privacy to potentially killing small business that uses vehicles to produce revenues.

Are you ready for Big Brother to be behind your wheel?

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A Slow Roll to Disaster

Chances are you will go to the grocery store once or twice this week to buy food. I’ll bet you gas up at least once a week; maybe more. You don’t think twice about it and expect the goods and gas to be there.

What happens when you go into the store and the shelves are bare. You pull up to the gas station and find out there is NO gas to buy. Sounds extreme that this could happen in modern-day America? Well…..

Stats show 70% of all goods are moved by trucks from their point of origin in the US. The remaining 30% is moved by air/sea & rail. However, they drop that off at a depot and then a truck comes in and loads it up to move it out. So really, 100% of all goods are moved by trucks. Think about that. It’s a huge part of our economy and if truckers are not moving goods, wellllllll that lifestyle you and I enjoy will begin to change. Immediately.

A thick green sausage keeps poking the trucking bear

Truckers are in most part, some really nice folks who work their butts off.  Teddy bear like. Having written that, they are like anyone else and get fed up. Right now, the “I have had it meter” runneth over and that bear becomes one big, bad grizzly. Now imagine that grizzly is sleeping uncomfortably and growling low. Now imagine a big ole Shrek like finger, green for money that keeps poking that bear. Here are a few things poking the bear:

  • Insurance rates going through the roof
  • States coming out with “trucker only” or trucker targeted highway tolls that keep hitting their pocket-book
  • Problems finding a safe place to park
  • Driver pay – their effective pay and buying power basically is the same as 1980
  • Paperwork that would make a CPA cry
  • An ever-increasing regulatory shadow over their back

Get the picture?

About a month ago, some truckers in Illinois realized that they had a gut full of what I listed above and decided it was time to get some attention. So on January 26th of this year, about 10 truckers went below the speed limit on I57 for about 100 miles to protest. That same day, 40 trucks in Dallas did the same thing. Since then, truckers have been doing the same thing in Indiana and Kentucky. Another Illinois protest for I465 is planned soon. Other states will be following.

Oh, and the word is getting out about taking a “day off” nationally on April 12, 2109.

DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION YET!!???!?!?!?!

With all of the buzz on infrastructure, we had better start paying attention to those that spend most of the time driving on those roads and figure a way to get them happy. Even if it costs us more for goods and services.

The bear is waking up and making a slow roll over the economy and disaster is right around the corner.

The kind of disaster where the bear eats you up and then defecates you over a long, tall, cliff.

Charmin, anyone?

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