Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the question of how to provide appropriate security for the nation has driven much of the political agenda. Congress and a variety of government agencies have adopted new laws and regulations prompted by the desire to protect citizens and institutions from terrorist attacks, as well they should. But I worry that in the quest for safety we may provide our enemies with an unintended victory.
We should be guided, I think, by FDR's words that all we have to fear is fear itself. My concern is that out of fear, we may allow or even encourage restrictions that harm the nation.
The readers of this magazine, like it or not, are crucial participants in that debate. A large portion of the security measures are aimed squarely at the distribution network.
Dave Miller, CEO of regional LTL carrier Con-Way Southern Express, is one executive who's concerned that rules aimed at improving security could harm the nation's competitiveness. "We want rules and regulations that improve security without unnecessarily impacting the economy," he says. Just so.
It is incumbent on distribution managers and executives to keep abreast of proposals and to let government regulators understand what tougher rules could really mean to their businesses and to the economy. The effect of many of the rules would be to increase costs and impede efficiency while adding only marginally to security.
It's easy for som eone in Congress to propose requiring inspections of all incoming freight containers, for example, without a clear understanding of how that could cripple the economy. It's natural for someone in the public eye to support any policy designed to promote maximum safety. But a complex system requires sophisticated and nuanced management.
Soldiers understand that logistics is a key to battlefield success. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, for one, said that wars were won and lost primarily because of logistics. So, too, our economic success depends on a logistics system that is both secure and efficient. Build too many roadblocks and we threaten real harm to our e conomy. There is scant security in that.