Less of Everything
soon, but shh
On YouTube today, the The Asian Mai Show - Official Trucking Channel posted an excerpt of Pilot Flying J CEO Shameek Konar, an econ PhD, testifying to the federal Surface Transportation Board on April 27. The excerpt is perfectly chosen as a WHAT DID HE JUST SAY moment:
Pilot Flying J runs hundreds of truck stops in 44 states; they report annual fuel sales around seven billion gallons, and they make, distribute, and sell hundreds of millions of gallons a year of diesel exhaust fluid, a product most truckers must use to drive their trucks. Look around your house: You’re surrounded by stuff that you got because truck drivers fueled up at a Pilot or Flying J truck stop, or at ten of them. And here we have the person who runs the company warning that he’s struggling — increasingly — to get fuel and DEF to market. He’s warning about rail lines embargoing product, and the strong possibility of trucking being sharply throttled in the very near term.
The full April 27 meeting of the Surface Transportation Board is also on YouTube, and Konar’s testimony appears in the first twenty minutes of a nine-hour video:
His comments are well worth watching in full. Around 14:30, he says that his company is in danger of losing about a third of its rail shipping capacity, stranding 100 million gallons of DEF a year, with “each rail car…worth about five million miles of trucking,” and “you could not replace a hundred million gallons of DEF in any reasonable time frame. You could maybe replace it by next year.” Bottom line: “It would be equivalent to losing ten percent of the trucks from the road today.” Losing ten percent of the trucks means losing ten percent of the stuff in the trucks, like milk and eggs and soap.
Now, the Surface Transportation Board held two full days of urgent hearings last month on a burgeoning crisis in American freight transportation, with serious witnesses who make things and move them:
…and I learned about it a month later from a YouTube host shooting video in a truck stop parking lot. In his Mutha Trucker hat. The trade press covered it; if you’re a devoted reader of trains.com, I’m boring you with old news:
We have metastasizing supply chain crises and economic erosion happening all over the country, and it’s all mostly happening in the background. You have to hunt for signs of it, or stumble across them. The news isn’t news, but a way of getting you to look away.
Remember this moment. Remember, in six months, that we were here, and that the news was about Amber Heard and the Donald Trump is bad theme, which is apparently very important.
Somebody said, and maybe it was Orwell or maybe it wasn’t, that we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. But we wake up well fed in comfortable homes because of people who schedule carloads of DEF, and because of truck drivers who drive all day to get dairy products to Trader Joe’s in time for the nightly restock. Their world is getting uglier by the day, and they keep trying to tell us.