different prescriptions for this patient
Re: "the patient is not well," Outbound (July 2008)
I could not agree with you more! I just hope the powers that be are listening to all the logistics providers, large and small, and to industry experts such as DC VELOCITY. Your view mirrors what the rest of us are thinking—we average people who are also feeling the pinch and want something real to be done toward gaining energy independence.
MJ McDonald, Indianapolis, Ind.
Opening Alaska, the Pacific Coast, or the Atlantic Coast to more oil exploration is not the solution. Even if projects started today, it would be five to 10 years before any new domestic oil hit the market. Increasing production will only prolong the agony and suffering of the patient (trucking and logistics companies).
What about ridding the industry of load brokers? That way, the actual cost of moving freight would go to the trucking companies and then, hopefully, to the drivers. How about reducing supply chains from 15,000 miles to more domestic networks? What about moving manufacturing plants back to North America and away from Asia? There are huge fuel savings to be had there.
Our reliance on oil, make that "cheap" oil, has led us to this predicament. How about buying locally instead of getting fruit from California shipped to New York? How about banning all plastic bags? How about mandatory recycling programs? There are an infinite number of ways to cut back on the amount of oil we use. We must stop being oil pigs and reduce our consumption. Will that cause some to suffer? Absolutely, but think of all the innovation that will be produced because of this. Job losses today will be replaced by jobs of tomorrow that haven't even been thought of yet.
Kevin Lee, Roaring Express
In his column "the patient is not well," Mitch Mac Donald states that "there's no short-term solution at hand" and "we must wean ourselves off those [expensive fossil] fuels." He goes on to support only one "solution" that helps nobody but oil companies: "remove roadblocks to domestic oil exploration and drilling." This populist and political solution to produce more fossil fuel at home is, by all serious accounts, not a short- or long-term solution (our relatively small incremental U.S. supplies can't significantly affect world oil prices). And this does not wean us off oil.
It would be better to remove import restrictions on alternative fuel imports (like Brazilian ethanol) and subsidize efficiency improvements now as we restructure distribution networks to accommodate permanently higher transport/fuel costs. Rather than political fixes, a more realistic view of our options and potential solutions to high fuel/transport costs would better serve your readers.
Bret Andersen, Palo Alto, Calif.
real "Rainmakers" at last
First, I think DC VELOCITY is the premier magazine covering our industry. Layout, stories, graphics ... the complete product is high quality all the way.
Having said that, when I received the July issue today, I was primed to drop you a nasty note. Over the last two years, I have felt that the "Rainmakers" issue was dominated by academics and software providers. While important to our industry, they are not "Rainmakers" by definition (or at least by my definition). This does not mean that my definition is correct, but with over 30 years in this industry, at least it is a firm definition in my mind.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 2008 version actually has operations people highlighted—real people actually providing a quantifiable service. So, instead of expressing indignation, I'd like to say, keep up the good work!
Michael Sims, Jacobson Companies
a silent majority?
Re: "a step backward?" FastLane (July 2008)
Cliff Lynch's treatise on rail regulation and deregulation was a fine and historically accurate version of this chapter in American history. As a co-author—with David DeBoer—of An American Transportation Story, I can verify what Mr. Lynch has stated.
It is only certain shippers, however, that are calling for measures that would re-regulate the railroads despite their protestations that they want nothing of the sort. These are the shippers of bulk commodities that saw during the debate on the Staggers Rail Act that they would pay a larger portion of system fixed costs than they did under the Interstate Commerce Commission's public utility-type regulation. They opposed passage of Staggers and have been seeking to negate it ever since.
Meanwhile, shippers that are receiving much improved service at market rates are relatively silent because there is nothing for them to say—yet. When and if re-regulation legislation makes any headway in Congress, I would expect many shippers to speak out. They have been the beneficiaries of deregulation every bit as much as the railroads have been.
Larry Kaufman, Golden, Colo.
Editor's note: The writer was vice president of public affairs for the Association of American Railroads when the Staggers Act was debated and passed.
create your own network
Re: "let's make a deal" (July 2008)
I really enjoyed Mark Solomon's article about social networking. Being from a marketing—as opposed to a material handling—background, I might be more familiar than some of your readers when it comes to social media. There is a great deal of power in social networking, but it is not always easy to harness and can be confusing to the first-time user. The article was a good introduction to those who see social networking as "private networking."
Besides the social networking sites mentioned in the article, another that I have recently become interested in is "Ning." Ning allows you to create your own social networking site, be it for your customers or sales team or any group. It makes it easy to create a "closed circle" network.
Thanks for the article and for the magazine.
Travis A. Baker, SSI Schaefer Systems International Inc.
a vote for nuclear and wind power
Re: "a far less dismal alternative," SpecialHandling (July 2008)
In his column, George Weimer stated that we (our country as a whole) haven't built a new nuclear power plant in a generation and a half, have done nothing to promote coal, and haven't allowed ourselves to drill for new oil or build new refineries for decades.
I consider myself an environmentalist, but I am also a realist. As energy costs continue to rise with virtually no prospect of retreating, I think we need to invest more in nuclear power. Stop allowing the injunctions that stop or delay construction, adding millions to the cost of a plant. If nuclear plants are designed properly, located on stable ground, and allowed to be built without interruption, I'm positive it would be a great benefit to this country. The only downside, of course, is the waste. I do not have a good answer for that.
I'm not that convinced that coal is the way to go. With burning coal, you get mercury and sulfur—two things I would rather not have added to the planet's surface in mass quantities. They're best left underground undisturbed.
On his point about oil, it is not "we" who control the money for drilling or building new refineries; it's the oil companies. By not doing these things, they achieve exactly what they wanted: super high oil prices so they can make unheard-of record profits. The oil companies have more than enough money to drill more wells on existing leased land or build at least one new refinery in this country. But they would rather pay the stock holders huge dividends and watch the rest of us suffer.
I think wind power should be the new "Apollo" program. Yes, it would require a huge up-front investment, but I believe the payoff would be worth it.
Mark C. Miller, Brook Park, Ohio
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