Why do the big boys get the dough?

By Mark H. Reddig, "Land Line Now" host

We all know that in recent years, the government has taken a greater interest in how much fuel it takes to move freight. That’s in part shown up in the first-ever fuel economy standards for big trucks by the federal government. And it will soon show up in the follow-up rules for truck fuel efficiency.

In some cases, we’ve seen grants of one type or another go out to help carriers improve fuel economy, to pollute less – some in the form of grants for APUs, which lower the amount of fuel used in off-highway hours; some in direct grants to make trucks more aerodynamic; and other money to convert to natural gas in some form as a fuel; and so on.

But often the government gives most of those grants to big carriers. Owner-operators or very small carriers are left out in many cases.

Why? After all, if these items really cut fuel consumption, wouldn’t companies install them on their own dime to reduce their running costs?

Owner-operators and small fleet folks already have an incentive to increase fuel economy: their bottom line. They achieve it most often through driving techniques and equipment maintenance, something less stringently adhered to in some large fleets.

Of course, that raises the question of why big companies get all the dough.

Small businesses are the biggest job generators. Why use their taxes to support their competitors?

You could say the same thing about natural gas as a truck fuel. Why do subsidies go to big companies that already budget to buy new vehicles? If they need to switch to natural gas, let them do it on their own dime.

Small businesses often keep equipment up and running longer, and maintain it better. They do not buy new trucks every few years and do not have the deep pockets of larger companies.

If you want to put money where it will make a difference, put it toward the smallest businesses. That is where it will do the most good on every front. LL