THE TRUE COST OF “CLEANER” AIR
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions rules for model years 2004 to 2010 have resulted in substantially higher prices for commercial vehicles, lower sales and delay of environmental benefits, according to a recent study by the American Truck Dealers and the National Automobile Dealers Association. The study said that the EPA’s original estimates of just how much the new rules would cost truck makers and their customers was off by an average of two to five times.
This just goes to show that the EPA is as dimwitted as the rest of the government. On average, the actual cost increases for the model year 2010 was more than twice what EPA projected. The agency estimated that manufacturer surcharges for the 2010 trucks would average $2,737, but two associations said that the actual charges ranged from $3,868 to as high as $7,300 depending on the manufacturer. In reality the EPA’s rules caused heavy-duty truck prices to spike by $21,000 over what tractors cost in 2000.
But the bigger questions here are, “How do you (the EPA) intend to keep this clean air over my head so that it doesn’t float over to Phoenix or other cities eastward, and how do you prevent all the bad air from China from floating westward over to the US?” I’m sorry, clean air might be a good idea, but it’s the wrong time to implement this scheme! All that is happening is that a whole lot of small trucking companies and owner-operators are having a real hard time trying to keep up with all of these new (and expensive) rules.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in L.A. County remained unchanged in March 2012 at 11.8% and the comparable estimate for the nation was 8.2%, yet the politicians in Sacramento continue to push businesses out of the state by imposing thousands of ridiculous regulations on the people of California and by taxing them into oblivion (and the state is still broke). Sadly, the “California Dream” is rapidly becoming a nightmare. The “California” that the Beach Boys and The Mamas & The Papas once sang about is unfortunately long gone!
PRIVATIZING CALIFORNIA REST AREAS
A California state lawmaker has a plan to improve options for travelers in the state who need a rest on the road. Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D) – San Diego, has sponsored a bill that would authorize the California Department of Transportation to sign deals with private companies to operate rest areas (the state would keep ownership of all the property). Saying that his bill addresses a growing problem in the state, Hueso told members of the Assembly Transportation Committee, “We have rest stops, but they can’t be open to the public because we don’t have the funding.” According to the bill analysis, privatizing nearly a third of the state’s 87 rest areas could generate $3 million annually in lease revenue, and $7.5 million a year from new sales tax revenue. Also, Hueso claims the state could save as much as $15 million a year in deferred maintenance costs.
Authority to move forward with this plan is a two-step process – it would require approval from state lawmakers and the federal government (since 1956 federal law has prohibited states from commercializing rest stops along interstate highways). Hueso said that the plan would be a win-win for business, travelers and the state. “It ensures that not only will rest areas be maintained and open, but that the state might make some revenue that would go back into the transportation sector for road maintenance,” he testified. The bill (AB2485) was initially rejected by the committee, but a request for reconsideration was granted, which buys time for advocates to drum up some support.
DRIVING SAFETY IN AMERICA
There were only 1.09 traffic fatalities per 100 million miles driven in America last year – the lowest number since 1949 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started keeping records. Today, we have safer cars and fewer impaired drivers on the road. Despite fear-mongering from the government that we’re all going to be killed in a fiery crash because kids have cell phones in their cars, people are actually dying a lot less in car accidents. Preliminary numbers from NHTSA show 32,310 died in car crashes last year, a 1.7% decrease over 2010. The number of car crash fatalities has decreased every year since 2005, when it hit 42,708. NHTSA will announce their full statistics and explanations for the decrease in traffic fatalities later this year, but factors contributing to the decline are expected to include a decrease in alcohol and drug related fatalities – 3% and 17%, respectively. The greatest drop in road deaths was in New England, which saw a 7.2% decrease. Maybe more people are taking public transit because of the economy and fuel prices? States lacking robust mass-transit systems like California, Arizona and Hawaii, saw a combined 3.3% increase in traffic deaths.
WORKERS’ COMP STILL IN TROUBLE
To illustrate just how much trouble the State of California Workers’ Compensation Fund is in, you must know that there are 58 counties in California. The Orange County Board of Supervisors released a report that stated that they only had $81.6 million in reserves for workers’ compensation liabilities estimated at $122 to $145 million as of June 30, 2011. Now, it doesn’t take a college degree to figure out what the shortage could be for the other 57 counties – it could be as little as $2 trillion to as much as $3 trillion short! On May 30, 2012 California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced his approval of a 8.3% mid-year increase. This is added to the 37% rate increase he approved on January 1, 2012. Therefore, I estimate that the crackdown on employers utilizing 1099 individuals will continue for at least the next five years. The state desperately needs more people deemed as “employees” so that they can rake in the extra tax money, so make sure that you are properly classified.