During presidential campaigns past, candidates have shouted themselves hoarse telling voters where they stood on everything from Iraq and the economy to taxes and stem cell research, though not logistics. We've heard a candidate vow to be the "education president," but have listened in vain for a pledge to be the "supply chain president." So it's no real surprise that several months after his re-election, President Bush has yet to offer any clues as to what his re-election means for the supply chain or logistics executive.When he outlined his priorities for the next four years at a news conference shortly after the election, President Bush ticked off a long list: Social Security, Iraq, tax reform and the economy. But not a word about making sure no truck was left behind.
The more's the pity. The distribution environment is nothing if not challenging right now. How is anyone supposed to guarantee—or provide for—the speedy delivery of merchandise at a reasonable cost in the face of spiking fuel prices, road congestion, port logjams, a truck capacity crunch, soaring transportation rates and labor shortages?
Given politicians' inclination to shift positions whenever the wind changes, there's no sure way of predicting what Bush's re-election means for logistics operations. But based on the president's previous actions, I'll risk some educated guesses:
Meanwhile, the states and counties aren't waiting around for something to happen. An astonishing number of projects to reduce road congestion appeared on state ballots in November. Voters in 11 states approved 23 of 31 measures to start or improve bus and rail lines, to the tune of over $40 billion. In California and Missouri, voters passed measures to stop state governments from using highway funds for other purposes. Not to be outdone, Sonoma County, Calif., citizens voted in a sales tax increase to fund bicycle and pedestrian paths to keep cars off the roads.
Now it's the federal government's turn. Our industry needs help. Let's hope our president shares that view.