Pulling back the curtain

by Russ Roberts on July 7, 2011

in Politics

Every once in a while, a news story comes along that lets you see how the world really works. After NAFTA was passed 17 years ago, one provision was never implemented fully–the ability of Mexican trucking firms to operate in the US. This provision was held up because the Teamsters and others didn’t want the competition. But you can’t say that. So the issue that the Teamsters and others used was safety, presumably because there was some provision in NAFTA that required imports to be safe. Or maybe it was on pure political grounds. At any rate, the US has now supposedly agreed to let the trucks to operate freely though it is still subject to some kind of Congressional approval:

The United States and Mexico on Wednesday signed an agreement aimed at resolving a cross-border trucking dispute. The longstanding disagreement had come to symbolize growing resistance, especially in the US Congress, to free-trade provisions with America’s southern neighbor.

The accord, signed in Mexico City by US and Mexican transportation officials, would end a 15-year-old controversy that on the US side featured fears of unsafe Mexican trucks barreling along US highways, driven by unprofessional Mexican truckers.

On the Mexican side, outrage over the American disregard for a NAFTA provision led to retaliatory tariffs on US goods ranging from pork to consumer care products – which cost the US as much as $2 billion in exports.

The accord was greeted warmly by US trade, farm, and business organizations – but condemned by US trucking organizations, a sign the agreement could face trouble in Congress.

The reporter, Howard LaFranchi, frames it clearly just the way the Teamsters would want it framed. Who wants to let in unsafe trucks? The safety issue is the concern of the United States. But is it? Who is worried about it, really? How unsafe are the trucks and drivers? There is no mention of the self-interest of the US trucking industry. There is no mention of consumers in the US who might prefer the lower prices that usually come with competition.

The reporter is not unusual. Every news story that I have seen treats the safety issue as a legitimate concern without wondering if there is anything to it. Turns out that according to a government study, 41% of inspected trucks crossing into the Mexican border were found to be unsafe. But how was that number collected? What does it really mean?

Ten years ago, I wrote an article trying to find out. It’s still on line at EconLib. There are things I would have said differently were I to write it today. But the bottom line is that the whole issue was weird–the safety problem could have been solved at any time the way it has been solved today–by requiring Mexican trucks to comply with US safety standards. And don’t they have to comply with those standards anyway?

The lesson here is how easy it is to get what you want politically by making the issue one of safety or the children. This is not the precise bootlegger and baptist argument but it’s a variant.

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DaleB July 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm

In this case, I think that truck safety is a legitimate concern. If you’ve ever driven in Mexico and seen some of the trucks they drive there, you would not want them on US roads. Talk about unsafe. Tires with chords showing and cracks in the rubber on the sidewalls. Missing windows and bumpers on the tractors. Wildly misaligned headlights (if they work at all). Questionable brakes (I’m inferring this form observed stopping distances). The list could go on and on.

Safety inspections are a reasonable requirement.

yet another Dave July 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm

maybe you missed this part?

But the bottom line is that the whole issue was weird–the safety problem could have been solved at any time the way it has been solved today–by requiring Mexican trucks to comply with US safety standards. And don’t they have to comply with those standards anyway?

kyle8 July 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I think Dale B has a serious concern and I am not at all mollified by a simple throw-away statement by Russ. “Don’t they have to comply anyway” Uhh, NO!

Let me put it this way, do immigrants from Mexico comply right now with our automoblie safety laws? I live in Texas, let me assure you they do not. They drive without liscenses, without insurance, and in crappy dangerous vehicles.

And they do not get stopped and ticketed, because places like my city are sanctuary cities. And detaining latino people for any reason can be considered racism.

In this case the unions may just be responding to competition, but that does not mean they don’t have a valid point.

I IN NO WAY trust the government to enforce this adequetly. Any laws or regulations concerning Mexico are enforced only on a situational basis.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Your comparing illegals, who are desperately trying to avoid the law, with legalized drivers entering the US.

yet another Dave July 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm

kyle8, safety is obviously a serious concern, but I don’t see Russ’ statement as a “simple throw-away” remark – the safety concern has a straightforward solution. Don’t you think the driver has a serious concern for the safety of his truck? Do you think US drivers are less likely to try cutting corners? I don’t see how the comparison with poor immigrant’s personal vehicles is invalid.

The union is doing what they do – fighting for preferential treatment at the expense of somebody else. The safety complaint is a red herring to disguise the truth.

Eisenhower July 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I believe that 41% number was trucks that had any violation. As usual union leaders distort facts in attempt to maintain their quasi-monopoly in trucking, The most comprehensive study from 2008 actually showed Mexican trucks safer than US trucks!

n FY 2008, more than 220,000 inspections were performed on Mexican trucks by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. During those inspections only 1.2% of Mexican drivers were placed out of service for a violation, as compared to nearly 7% of U.S. drivers who were inspected. About 21.2% of Mexican trucks – compared to 21.8% of U.S. trucks – were placed out of service for safety reasons or because they had violated some other regulation. (link) http://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/dot/files/pdfdocs/NAFTA_Final_Report_Section_508_-_090209.pdf (Page 39)

This is a much more accurate comparison because it includes violations serious enough to warrant taking the truck off the road. As usual self interested parties dependent of the government never protecting them from competition never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

The number of inspections of Mexican trucks was about 10% of the number of inspections of domestic trucks. Furthermore, the Mexican carriers have a pretty strong incentive to put their best foot forward. The original report stated that the numbers sampled were too small to make an accurate decision.

tdp July 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

So the Mexicans chose which trucks would get stopped for required safety inspections? 1.2% of drivers and 21.2% of trucks out of 220,000 is too small to make an accurate decision? How would the proportions change if it got to 2.2 million? 220,000 is large enough number to weed out any outliers.

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm

The Mexican companies choose which trucks to send into the states. Let me choose the sample participants, and I’ll show you that smoking makes you live longer.

“The demonstration project did not have an adequate number of Mexican carrier participants and participants are not representative in some respects of Mexican carriers that applied for long-haul authority”

Status Report on NAFTA Cross-Border Trucking Demonstration Project

tdp July 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

If they’re choosing the safe trucks to send into the US, what’s the problem?

SheetWise July 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm

“The Mexican companies choose which trucks to send into the states.”

Are you suggesting that they also got to choose which ones were inspected? If not, what’s your point?

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Russ, I’ve been a fan of yours for years and rarely disagree. But on this topic, I’ve got some issues with what you’ve said.

There are few people who hold Teamsters in lower regard than me. But it doesn’t mean that we can simply dismiss the problem at hand.

The safety issue is the concern of the United States. But is it? Who is worried about it, really?
As a taxpayer and someone who uses the roads, I care. I’ve seen the damage an unsafe truck can do. We don’t bill unsafe drivers for emergency costs because they come out of general taxation. But we should let a company that doesn’t pay taxes cost us money? We require our domestic companies to spend money on training, insurance, safety programs, etc. If we’re not going to require the same of others, why let them in?

But how was that number collected? What does it really mean?
It’s pretty simple. A number of Mexican-based trucks were pulled over, and 41% of them failed the safety inspection required of heavy trucks. You yourself indicated how we got the number in your EconLib article. Why play games with it?

And don’t they have to comply with those standards anyway?
Sure, if they get caught. But US trucks also have to undergo a yearly inspection based on our safety standards. Since we can’t enforce inspections in Mexico, the only recourse would be to force the Mexican companies to get their inspections here, something that would drive up costs immensely. (It’s also something that’s not on the table in negotiations.)

It’s one thing to argue for free trade with other nations. If they have looser environmental regulations or labor laws, let them. We can exert moral pressure, but we should leave the tariffs and protectionism out of it. But if we’re not going to enforce the same regulations on foreign trucks as domestics, that’s not free trade. It’s akin to letting a foreign company open a factory here, but apply the labor laws of their home country. You don’t see a problem with that?

Sure, I’d rather see less regulation domestically and freer movement of goods with basic safety checks at the border. But we don’t have that option.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

When the truckers stop and get gas, they pay the taxes. And, it wouldn’t hurt at all to have businesses transporting goods back and forth pay the costs of inspections and border crossing points. Rather than A person in Massachuesetts paying by federal taxation on income for these costs, assuming he/she does not buy a product imported from Mexico.
All of this, assuming that there is not a means of having imports pay for all costs associated with entry points into the US.

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Fuel taxes pay for roads (well, they’re supposed to). They don’t pay for DOT, they don’t pay for inspections, they don’t pay for the police required for a DOT sting. The infrastructure in place to enforce our current regulations will not be funded by Mexican trucking companies. If that was proposed, we could have a different discussion, but it’s not.

We can agree that we don’t need this huge safety infrastructure. But that’s not on the table. What is proposed is a huge increase in the infrastructure without an increase in funding.

Gil July 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Let these Libertarian truckers drive, eh?

Frank33328 July 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

“It’s akin to letting a foreign company open a factory here, but apply the labor laws of their home country. You don’t see a problem with that?”

Yes, exactly and actually that is the heart of what you are saying, but I wonder if you really mean this. (The answer of course is, no I really don’t see a problem and I wish this could happen.) If you buy a foreign made product would you really be offend/concerned if the factory that made it was located in Iowa versus Shanghai? Why do you believe that the DOT regulations are more rational than those of NLRB or any other government bureaucracy? Destroying your own capital (the trucks owned by the trucking company) is never a sound business plan.

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I would have a serious problem if we let an Iowa factory operate with Shanghai labor and environmental laws. That’s the issue here. The Mexican carriers are only subject to our safety standards if they are caught/pulled over. We demand a lot of our domestic companies. We need to demand the same of other companies that operate in our borders.

Destroying your own capital (the trucks owned by the trucking company) is never a sound business plan.
No, but not doing proper maintenance is par for the course in the trucking industry. Sure, you can discuss long term risk/reward, but walk into any shop anywhere and you will find corners being cut.

Why do you believe that the DOT regulations are more rational than those of NLRB or any other government bureaucracy?
I don’t. They are onerous, obnoxious, and usually ridiculous. But unless we decide to repeal them, we shouldn’t be letting others shirk them.

Frank33328 July 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Should I assume that you refuse to buy imports from countries that don’t follow US labor and environmental laws? If not, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to support workers in other countries but to deny those opportunities to those who live here?

I am not sure how you, the bureaucrats, draw the line between cutting corners and economizing. I’m okay with letting the market decide the winners in this question. I am not sure why you’re concerned.

Frank33328 July 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

the phrase, “you, the bureaucrats, draw…” should read, “you, or the bureaucrats, draw…” An EDIT button is needed.

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

If we have a standard level of quality for American-made products, we need to have the same standard for foreign-made products. If Cambodia can produce paint that meets our standards by virtue of lower wages, good for them. But if they are doing it by producing paint that isn’t up to our standards, then they shouldn’t be allowed to sell it.

This has nothing to do with how appropriate our standards are. It has nothing to do with the wisdom of bureaucrats (I can never say that phrase with a straight face). But if we have laws that regulate something, those laws need to be applied equally.

I will sign whatever petition you can get to cut down on FMCSA red tape. But until we change the laws, we shouldn’t be letting people shirk the laws.

Methinks1776 July 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

But if they are doing it by producing paint that isn’t up to our standards, then they shouldn’t be allowed to sell it.

Why? What’s this “our standards”? Who is “we”? Lots of firms produce lots of crap that isn’t up to my standard (I’m very snobby about clothes). I just don’t buy it. If I buy it once and think it’s crap, I don’t buy more. Maybe I should compel them to prevent them from selling things I find substandard to you? After all, “we” decided and all.

Have you ever looked at regulation? 99.9995% of it is so incredibly moronic, you’ll sprain an eyeball rolling your eyes. You’ll cry trying to understand it. Instead of applied equally, they should all be scrapped for everyone. But, since that will never happen, if some firms manage to avoid the vast idiocy of regulation and the vapid fools who administer them, then I say Mazel Tov!! We’re all better off.

odinbearded July 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Come on, you’re not that obtuse. We’re discussing specific regulations that relate to the safety and operation of heavy trucks on American roadways. If we have a law on the books, it needs to be equally enforced. Markets are one of the most important principles in society. The rule of law is the other.

The government allowing certain companies to avoid regulatory expense isn’t markets at work. It’s crony capitalism.

Economiser July 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I’m sort of with Odin on this one. If a factory is operating in Iowa but the owners are from Shanghai, it should have to comply with whatever onerous laws the American factory next door is subject to. Otherwise that would be a gift to the Shanghai branch factory.

Better to scrap the unnecessary regulations all around, but until you get there, the government shouldn’t be preferencing foreign factories over US, or vice-versa.

I know that’s a bit afield from the trucks question, but so be it.

Methinks1776 July 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm

We’re discussing specific regulations that relate to the safety and operation of heavy trucks on American roadways.

Not in the comment I addressed! It’s a far cry from producing junk you think is substandard and driving unsafe vehicles.

As for trucks:
The Mexican carriers are only subject to our safety standards if they are caught/pulled over.

Isn’t that true of U.S. trucks as well? but, you go on to say that:

not doing proper maintenance is par for the course in the trucking industry.

Then, you go on to complain that the regs are stupid. I understand that it doesn’t seem fair – and it isn’t. But the thing that’s unfair is that U.S. firms are forced to comply with stupid regs. Why would you want to force more firms to comply with stupid regs, giving those stupid regs and air of legitimacy? The fewer the number of people that have to comply with them, the more their legitimacy is put into question and the higher the probability of being able to scrape them off the books.

I understand the impulse. I’m a legal immigrant. My husband is a legal immigrant. It’s a long, drawn-out, expensive undertaking to immigrate to this country legally. It does feel really unfair when people are given amnesty because they jumped the boarder. But, their presence improves our lives. It’s better for the economy when motivated people come here to work. The cost of “fairness” (keeping them out because we weren’t given amnesty) is far too high.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Other than license and registration on trucks, those trucks are only subject to inspections if they get caught. I am a truck truck driver of 13yrs. US truck drivers skirt laws often.

odinbearded July 8, 2011 at 4:40 am

@Methinks

Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I wasn’t talking about some vague concept of a “good” product. If there are laws governing the sale or manufacture of a product, those laws need to be repealed or applied equally. If the US government states that paint must contain less than X% lead, then all paint sold here must conform to that regulation. If we are going to fine domestic manufacturers for not meeting the standard, we need to do the same to foreign products.

It is not “unfair” to be forced to follow asinine legislation. It is unfair to apply said legislation haphazardly or at the whim of the government. Two wrongs don’t make a right, they make things twice as bad.

giving those stupid regs and air of legitimacy?
Laws don’t have an “air” of legitimacy. They are legitimate by virture of being passed by an elected government and by being within the bounds of the constitution. You don’t have the right to flaunt them just because you don’t like them. What is even worse is to have the government selectively apply them based on your (or my) preferences. If the law is on the books, it needs to be upheld. If you don’t like it, then have it repealed.

As to immigration, well, I’ll let Milton handle that one.
…it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.
(Yes, Friedman was also supportive of illegal immigration. He did not, however, explain how illegal immigrants didn’t receive some form of welfare benefits)

odinbearded July 8, 2011 at 4:50 am

@DanJ

Registration and licensing are how we pay for enforcement. Barring some sort of cross-border tax or fee, this agreement would massively increase the need for enforcement without increasing the revenue for that enforcement.

There are a lot of options to make this part of NAFTA work well. If they were on the table, I’d be on board. Since they’re not, I’m going to support the second-best option that doesn’t hamstring our own economy based on vague idealism.

Methinks1776 July 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

Registration and licensing are how we pay for enforcement. Barring some sort of cross-border tax or fee, this agreement would massively increase the need for enforcement without increasing the revenue for that enforcement.

I think you will find that enforcement is mainly paid for by fining the regulated subjects. What sort of incentives does that set up?

BTW…I think that a much better alternative to regulation is private certification. Cheaper, better and less thuggish than government regulation.

Dan J July 9, 2011 at 12:44 am

I think I pay far more in fuel taxes over one year than I do in registration. At $200 a year for two cars………. I don’t think much emergency services are covered.
The fact of the matter is that opposition to Mexican truck drivers is wholly concerned with protectionism. The death and destruction is the vehicle for gaining populist support.
*pun intended*

Methinks1776 July 8, 2011 at 9:01 am

Odinbearded,

I see. I’ve just heard to many complaints about cheap goods, so I assumed that’s what you meant by “substandard”.

It is not “unfair” to be forced to follow asinine legislation. It is unfair to apply said legislation haphazardly or at the whim of the government.

Yes, that’s deeply unfair (I think you misread my comment – I said uneven application is unfair). I’ve spent my whole career in a highly regulated industry. Unfortunately, “haphazardly or ["and", really] at the whim of the government” is precisely how regulation is applied – and that’s within the United States. Politically connected firms can virtually ignore regulation while everyone else is bludgeoned to death with intentionally vague regs that are interpreted differently practically every time and for every firm.

Regulation is even worse than legislation, IMO. The regulatory bodies make up whatever they want behind closed doors. Once the congress hands the baton to the regulator, it’s an unconstitutional free-for-all. Regulation is the furthest thing we have from Rule of Law. So, I’m sorry, but uneven application of regulation even for U.S. firms is already the norm.

Laws don’t have an “air” of legitimacy. They are legitimate by virture of being passed by an elected government and by being within the bounds of the constitution.

Agreed. But, the specific regulations are not laws passed by congress and submitted to a constitutional test. Regulations are quietly made up at the whim of the regulator and are never voted on by congress or submitted to a constitutional test. For instance, a few years ago, the SEC decided to remove intent as an element of fraud. So, the SEC can now charge a firm or a person with “accidental” fraud. How is it possible to accidentally defraud? The whole point of fraud is to intentionally mislead. So, now, if you accidentally get a number wrong while in casual conversation at a party and the SEC can charge you with fraud. As with all its regulation, the SEC will whip out that regulation to bludgeon a firm or an individual it can’t destroy any other way – usually to get a headline. Fair? No. I think you will agree that this is an illegitimate regulatory rule. I think you would also agree that protecting connected firms from competition is an illegitimate use of the law and of regulations. So, I cannot accept an unfair regulation as legitimate and insist that we legitimize it by forcing everyone to comply.

As for repeal….good luck. Repealing legislation is hard, but easier than repealing regulation for the same reason it’s easier to write horrendous regulations in the first place.

Dean Sayers July 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm

“The lesson here is how easy it is to get what you want politically by making the issue one of safety or the children.”

I don’t see how that is really the case. The anti-immigrant hysteria has always followed this model pretty closely, yet immigration for cheap labor has continued as planned.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm

‘The lesson here is how easy it is to get what you want politically by making the issue one of safety or the children’

When all else fails, this assertion is made. Obama, in a recent address, went right to this fear mongering. He made the claim of tax deductions for ‘corporate jets’ being a trade off for a childs education.

Like Sally Struthers “What about the children?”…..

Smash Equilibrium July 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm

A few questions come to mind.

How are Mexican goods getting into the U.S. now? Are they transferring goods from one truck to another at the border? If so, just think of the cost that adds to goods.

Are American trucks allowed into Mexico? How would American truckers/teamsters react if the Mexican government (or any government for that matter) used the same reasoning against them?

Are the teamsters really more powerful than the importers and exporters who are paying higher costs because of this? Or is it a case where the teamsters have them over a barrel?

vikingvista July 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm

They are more politically powerful than consumers, as apparently is nearly any special interest.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Teamsters have more political clout as they transfer millions of union dues over to politicians. The importers/exporters have not consolidated their efforts enough to form their own multi-million dollar campaign contributions, yearly.
But, with many of the democrats left, today, it is more ideological than it is monetary.

EG July 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Mexican trucks do get into the US. This is what is missing here. Most goods from Mexico (and vice versa), are unloaded at distribution centers which are typically located in close proximity to the border. Its rarely economical to directly deliver the goods.

So the issue can’t really be all that big. It would affect only those destinations where it wouldn’t be economical to unload at distribution centers. Probably not a major issue, which is how such silly regulations get sneaked in there.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

It is akin to the teamster unions preventing non-union workers making a delivery to a building with a hand-truck. If the delivery person needs the assistance of a hand-truck to move the product into the building, the union orcs will prevent the person from entry. ‘UNIONS RULES’, they declare.

PaulBob July 8, 2011 at 3:03 am

I believe that under NAFTA, Mexican trucks were immediately allowed to enter the U.S., but had to stay very close (10 miles?) to the Mexican border. Therefore distribution centers were set up in the U.S., within 10 miles of Mexican border, so goods could be transferred from Mexican trucks to U.S. trucks.

After some number of years, NAFTA was supposed to allow Mexican trucks to go anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, with U.S. and Canadian trucks allowed to go anywhere in Mexico. This is the part of the NAFTA agreement that the U.S. is blocking.

So the distribution centers were a consequence of NAFTA.

EG July 8, 2011 at 9:56 am

Possibly. It would make sense to me that most would still exist even if not for this “rule”.

Dan J July 9, 2011 at 12:47 am

A highway system was to be built north to south for a quick route to cover the distance from Mexico to Canada.

Obviously, it was to incorporate existing highways. Toll systems for new highways would be beneficial.

GlobalGood July 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Mexican trucks can meet any US standards if they are required to. The Teamsters are the epitome of protectionism and bad for the US people and US economy.

Just like foreign air carriers must keep their jets up to US standards in order to fly into the US, Mexican trucks can and will meet those standards. Given that Mexican, Indonesian, and African airlines manage to meet US aircraft safety standards there is no reason to assume Mexican trucks can’t.

Given the cost of a truck both the owner and drivers of Mexican trucks have the incentive to avoid accidents and keep their trucks safe. All arguments contrary to letting Mexican trucks in are based on paranoia, fear-mongering and protectionism.

EG July 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm

The concerns over “safety” of Mexican trucks on US roads, are in my opinion, unfounded in reality.

Mexican trucks already do cross the border with the US. Their goods are unloaded to distribution centers which are located throughout the cities on the border. So technically they already do drive on US roads and highways, up to their distribution centers, which more often than not, requires that they drive through residential areas.

How many incidents of exploding Mexican trucks and flying bumpers and wheels and children being run over due to lack of breaks or rear-view mirrors…have there been due to these trucks on US roads? In addition, not to repeat the data provided up here, but the stats on safety shows a different story.

Plus, as mentioned, vehicles operating on US roads have to comply with US safety standards, anyway.

Wouldn’t the same argument be made for all Mexican vehicles crossing into the US? Should we not allow Mexican private cars to enter in the US because of “safety” concerns? Should we not allow Mexican airliners to fly into the US? What about Nigerian airliners? What about Russian airliners? What about Venezuelan ships?

muirgeo July 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Behind the curtain is the race to the bottom. Bust the union truckers and their safety standards and their wages. Go with uninspected trucks, drivers that are never drug tested, drivers that work for nothing and are forced to drive unimaginable distances with no sleep for a pittance. Bring down our middle class a little more like that of Mexico or China… it will be worth it in the cheap things the rest of us can buy.

Yeah lets make our country look a little more like Mexico because that is the direction we are going. Somewhere out their is a family who’s vacation will end in a bloody pile up with an exhausted underpaid Mexican driver and his poorly keep truck but at least the CEO’s will be able to cut wages and cost and increase their bonus leaving the externalities of their operations in a heap crumbled steel and family vacation … a family itself cut short… Besides Mexico has the wealthiest man in the world so they must bone doing something alright.

Eventually if we can get our country to look enough like Mexico we will have solved the illegal immigration problem because they will have no reason to go here as opposed to staying there.

My only solace lies in the realization that some day the child of the people supporting these policies that are bringing down our country will likely look back and ultimately understand what their fathers stood for… Because at some point the results will be so devastatingly obvious their scorn will be the closest thing to eternal justice that will be have them reap what they have sown.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm

The democrats are trying to get us to look like Mexico……. by having no enforcements of borders and by hampering business in the US with enough regulations that only a ‘donation’ can alleviate the business of those disasterous regulations. Like CO2 regulations to come into play………….. a bogus claim……. only meant to cause more money to flow into DC as bribes for alleviating the business of the regulation……… special waivers for the bribes.

EG July 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Dumba*s. I doubt you’ve ever seen a US truck, or ever been to a Mexican factory or distribution center, or anywhere near the border.

Twit.

GlobalGood July 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Sad point of view –

There are nearly 13 million Mexican immigrants working in the US: building planes, fixing car engines, installing pipeline, drilling for natural gas, and even driving trucks and they don’t seem to be “killing our children”. Your point of view that Mexicans are inferior beings and that we need to protect America from sinking to their level is a disappointing point of view; sadly shared by far too many people.

Pfloyd July 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Bingo.

MWG July 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Muir doesn’t want to see our glorious middle class sullied with the dirtiness of icky Mexican workers.

His ‘theories’ are a variant of the glorious Juche ideology that has worked wonders in North Korea.

Steve_0 July 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Muirgeo is a racist. I think that’s been well established.

He’s a well-off white American doctor. You can’t get much more elitist class. Unlike Roger Ebert’s claim that the philosophy of Ayn Rand is “I made it into the lifeboat, we can pull the ladder up”, we see the truth.

Libertarians and Austrian economists promote the real equalization, opportunity, and betterment of people regardless of race, location, and class. It’s those liberals and democrats who spout the good talk who actually believe “I’ve got mine, screw those poor brown people”.

muirgeo July 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm

It’s not about the Mexican people. I live and work and treat them. They are great people and most of them vote democratic.

It’s about Mexican policy. I ask you straight forward. Do you want our country to look more like Mexico? If not how does lowering our standards of labor, environment and safety not do that?

There is a reason Mexico looks like Mexico and Canada looks like Canada and why WE are looking more and more like Mexico… it’s called neoliberalism and it’s destroying the lives of most of our citizens to benefit a few disproportionately.

Read up and down this blog on this issue you’ll see a few of the true racist “libertarian republicans” coming out of the wood work on the issue of immigration and Mexicans taking their jobs…

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Progressives are the rackets. Subjugating ‘minorities’ through dependency and fear of getting their ‘provided’ sustenance cut off by not bowing to their democrat masters.

Emil July 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Muirgeo,

Again: there is absolutely no evidence that living standards are being lowered anywhere. On the opposite all of the evidence is to the contrary. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that the more free trade the faster the poor people in the poor countries become less poor. This might mean that the americans become in relative terms less rich but who cares…

tdp July 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Muirgeo is oblivious to facts. All he cares about is that people who are harder working and better skilled be punished and forced to turn over their money to small special interests that try to restrict the free market and coerce other people into giving them money by forcing them to use their crappy, overpriced products so that they can live high on the hog at everyone else’s expense rather than get a job doing something worth a damn or compete fairly. Also, he and his fellow smug elitists need to make sure the poor underprivileged minorities stay poor and underprivileged so that they can have more of other people’s money and more control over their lives.

tdp July 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Also, muirgeo seems to hold Mexicans in high esteem because “most of them vote Democratic”. He only likes them because they know their place and vote for his band of paternalistic elitists who, like Lenin’s vanguard, know what is best for everyone and thus should have control over everyone’s lives…because those stupid peasants are too dumb and ignorant to survive on their own, right?

muirgeo July 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

That you can say that with a straight face in the mist of the greatest economic downturn since the last one the free-marketeers caused in 1929 and an unemployment percent of >9% arguably 15-20% depending how you measure it does confirm you are indeed a libertarian and nothing more… again do real world facts matter to you guys.

You are not even to be taken serious by any free thinking people when you say stupid stuff like you did in that post. Our overall standard of living should be way further along then it is.

Methinks1776 July 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Another home run, tdp. I miss the “like” button.

tdp July 7, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Mexico has poor standards of living and working conditions because the corrupt government restricts the economy and is concerned only with getting more money for lazy, incompetent bureaucrats and politicians. As bad as things are there, people were way poorer under leftist PRI domination.

muirgeo July 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Like I said, the corporate take over and corrupting of our government is making us more like Mexico and people like you are nothing more than uninformed ideological enablers.

Methinks1776 July 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

So, tdp, are you actually implying that too much freedom is NOT the reason Mexicans are stuck in poverty? Gasp! But then why do they come over here and vote Democrapic?

Gil July 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Or Mexicans have lower income because they don’t expect to pass off their fatass lifestyle to their customers but prefer to keep prices low because of competition which helps out the poorest consumers?

kirby July 7, 2011 at 9:25 pm

You’re right, cheap drug testing in strip malls is a definite sign of our regression.

On a serious note, why does it seem like we’re regressing? Obamacare and forcing hospitals to either dump a patient or eat tons of medical costs.

Pfloyd July 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Talk about a glass half-empty.

Don’t you have any compassion for poor Mexicans and policies that would help elevate them closer to where *we* are on the prosperity chain? Or does your concern for your fellow man end at the border?

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Does your ‘concern for your fellow man south of the border’ have you going on humanitarian missions? Spending vacations in Mexico to feed and house the indigents?
I don’t really know what the banter of the ‘above’ was alluding to……… but, Mexico is a mess. Truckers, who pass US standards on vehicle readiness, should not be hampered by protectionist measures. Naturally, the vehicles need further inspection for illicit materials (narcotics, illegal aliens, Iranians, etc.,..) …. But, the discussion of Libertarianism on people moving across borders, legalized drugs minimizing the Cartels, etc.,…. is for another day.
Assuming the vehicles meet ‘road ready’ standards, and the cargo does not have hidden contraband…………. let them drive.

Pfloyd July 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

No humanitarian missions because I understand the best way to improve one’s lot in life is not to simply give them stuff, but to trade with them.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I do not disagree with that statement as it is.

Methinks1776 July 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Go with uninspected trucks, drivers that are never drug tested,

And why not? If you’re an example, we’ve already got doctors who don’t have to meet those standards. Especially the drug testing.

Gil July 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm

“Besides Mexico has the wealthiest man in the world so they must be doing something right.”

Indeed. Mexico is the more Libertarian nation and that man is the most productive man in the world.

MWG July 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

“Assuming the vehicles meet ‘road ready’ standards, and the cargo does not have hidden contraband…………. let them drive.”

Sounds reasonable to me. Of course I would probably dispute what many would consider ‘contraband’, but as you said, that discussion is for another day.

MWG July 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Damn threaded comments. That was for Dan J.

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

One issue at a time.

Justin P July 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I’m more concerned with NY DOT trucks hauling Salt for the roads than I ever was worried about Mexican trucks when I lived in Vegas and Cali.

The NY DOT salt trucks rarely are covered (which is a violation of the law) and are always throwing salt off that back, I’ve got 3 spider webs on my windshield this past winter, compared to 1 that I got after a construction dump truck cut me off back in Vegas, a US truck and driver.

I think the problem stems mostly because a lot of Mexican drivers have ugly trucks. People equate ugly with safety for some reason. Here in NY there is a lot of rust on cars, but the cars run just fine and all the signals work just fine. There is nothing wrong with those cars except they are ugly, but people still think they should get off the road. Of course, here in NY, the same people that complain about ugly cars, drive Subarus (the pretentious car for Upstate NY) all the while spewing localvoire nonsense….irony?

Dan J July 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Subarus???? Not a GM or Chrysler??? We need to save them and bail them out……….. imported from Detroit……… Upstate NY is not buying into the Democrat protectionism?

Justin P July 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Well all localvoreism is like that. They’ll go on and on about how buying local is the way to go, until it will inconvenience them. Once it is an inconvenience, then everything is out the window.

Josh Knox July 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

“This is not the precise bootlegger and baptist argument but it’s a variant.”

I think the prohibition equivalent would be local moonshiners expressing some sort of outrage over the actions of bootleggers, perhaps encouraging stricter inspection of out of state cars. I wonder if there is any evidence of that ever happening.

…Bootleggers and Bartenders has a nice ring to it.

ArrowSmith July 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Behind the curtain is the race to the bottom.

Yes liberal, socialist, left-wing policies have American racing to the bottom of the barrel for the last 80 years.

A.J. Lenze July 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

Another group that’s probably VERY concerned about those dangerous Mexican trucks – Mexican’s who have to compete with imported U.S. goods on which the retaliatory tariffs were placed. The concern of these people is especially curious because these same trucks are careening around around the very neighborhood where they live (no doubt picking off children left and right), yet they’re so concerned for American children that they don’t want this cancer to spread to here.

James Strong July 8, 2011 at 9:45 am

It’s one thing for Mexican trucks to be deemed unsafe because of a critical problem with the trucks that could, let’s say, increase the percentage of the trucks blowing up out of the sudden by 350%.

It’s entirely different to deem Mexican trucks ‘unsafe’ because they have blue instead of red lights.

Sure, I agree, Mexican trucks should conform to U.S. standards provided those standards aren’t stupid to begin with.

JR July 9, 2011 at 6:51 am

I once met a retired railroad worker in Northern Virginia who had worked at the huge rail yard which was just south of Crystal City. I was curious about what used to go on there because at the time it was completely unused and just beginning to be developed into something else (cheap shopping malls and expensive condos, apparently).

He said that in his day every freight train passing through that yard on the busy main line along the east coast had to pass a safety inspection before being allowed to proceed. And his job, along with many other workers, was to make sure every train passing through had things that needed fixing so that they had plenty of work to do.

veech July 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Pardon me if I missed it, but as I scanned the comments nobody mentioned the idea that the people (or the business) that puts products on the truck will demand that the trucks are safe. Yes, they will demand as low a price as possible to ship the products, but they will also expect their product to arrive. Wherever they are shipping to, it will do them no good to have it spilled on the road in route.

And it will certainly be bad publicity if the continue to hire a shipping company that kills other drivers on the road.

Everybody seems to be arguing about whether or not it is the governments role to make sure the trucks are safe. The fact is that the trucks will be safe or the trucking company goes out of business. The shipping companies that will do the best will figure out how to keep the trucks safe, running well, and still keep their fees low.

James Hanley July 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I used to drive a cab in San Francisco. All cabs were inspected, so presumably they were all “safe.” And yet in my very short (3 months) time on the job, I twice returned a cab to the dispatcher and demanded another one. Once because the windshield wipers were wholly useless and I literally couldn’t see the road, and once because the suspension was so bad I couldn’t keep the car in a single lane at any speed above 35 mph.

Safety’s an issue for sure, but not one that we can really rely on governments to regulate.

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