You will notice that this year, I'm sending my letter to you by the (for the most part) reliable U.S. mail. Given all the hacking, eavesdropping, and other unpleasantness surrounding e-mail, I wanted to make sure my requests did not end up on someone's basement server.
With the tortuous presidential campaign sparking so much animosity, it has been a tiring year, but for better or worse, we have a new president. While somewhat short on intellectual content, the campaign itself was entertaining in a "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" kind of way, but it is time to look ahead and do what we can to keep our supply chains functioning smoothly and efficiently. To do so, we really need your help.
As you know, this industry has always been fraught with buzzwords and terms, and they seem to be getting more numerous and ridiculous. Space does not permit a full discussion, but please see if you can kill "uberization." The so-called uberization of transportation and warehousing really has little similarity to an app-aided taxi service. On-demand warehousing and transportation are not new. Certainly, the new enabling technology is superior, but let's just call it what it is. Armstrong and Associates has proposed "digital freight matching" for trucking, and the warehousing version is simply on-demand warehousing.
Recently, I wrote about the Surface Transportation Board's proposal to make it easier for "captive shippers" to seek approval for reciprocal switching under certain circumstances. Personally, I think it is a good idea if the privilege is not abused. Surprisingly, UPS has weighed in in support of the rails' opposition to the new rules. Although not a captive shipper by any stretch of the imagination, it maintains that the granting of this privilege could result in higher costs and an overall deterioration in rail service. If that happens, says UPS, it might be forced to switch its intermodal business back to the highways. As a $1 billion-per-year rail shipper, its clout in Washington is not insignificant. I am sure the truckers would say, "Go for it," but will you please take a look and see if you can find a solution that would be fair to all but require minimal regulatory involvement?
Much to the surprise and consternation of political experts and most of the media, Donald Trump is our new president-elect. Given the way the campaign devolved into a personal battle between the two candidates, it is difficult to know where he stands on the issues that concern supply chain professionals, or anyone else for that matter. What we do know is that the election demonstrated to us how open some of our wounds are. While this is a little out of your field, I hope you will fill his stocking with the leadership skills and tact he needs to succeed.
Trump did have some thoughts on infrastructure, however. Hillary Clinton had proposed a $250 billion expenditure over the next five years. Trump said he would kick that up to $1 trillion in spending over 10 years, financing it with bonds and tax credits. Details are sketchy, but at least he thought about it. Please see if you can push him toward appointing the experts he needs to accomplish this. He is going to find that building roads and bridges is pretty far removed from building hotels and golf courses.
I happen to believe that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be good for the country. Trump is opposed to it, so hopefully you can put some nice toys in the right stockings and help President Obama push it through the lame-duck Congress.
As always, please be careful out there. Both FedEx and UPS are predicting record holiday seasons, and if their numbers are accurate, the Christmas Eve skies may be a little congested.