How Jimmy Carter also saved the trucking industry

I realize that beer is way more interesting than trucking, but someone has to deliver all that hoppy goodness. And thanks to Jimmy Carter, we have a much less regulated trucking industry as well. Before Carter signed that deregulation into law, trucking companies were not only exempt from antitrust laws which created a severely anticompetitive industry, but faced bizarre and apparently abstract commodity restrictions and even stranger routing policies which were byzantine at best. For instance:

In some instances, carriers are required to take an indirect route or travel through a designated “gateway city” to reach their destination. For example:

—Denver, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico, are connected to each other via Interstate 25, a distance of 442 miles. Garrett Freight Lines is permitted to haul freight from Denver to Albuquerque—but only if it goes by way of Salt Lake City, a distance of 730 miles.

—In 1974, during the height of the energy crisis, Consolidated Freightways was denied a request to travel directly between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dallas. The carrier’s route authority required it to travel 37% extra miles on trips between the two points. Despite the company’s desire to eliminate excessive mileage and save fuel, the ICC denied the request because the new service would harm carriers already serving the route.

Circuitous routings, like regulations which require trucks to travel empty, waste precious fuel and increase costs and prices.

Carter’s deregulation was significant:

The legislation I am proposing provides that:

—All backhaul restrictions are removed immediately.

—All prohibitions on making intermediate stops between authorized points are removed immediately.

—All route restrictions, including requirements that a carrier take a circuitous route or pass through a designated gateway city, must be removed no later than December 31, 1981.

—All restrictions limiting the types of commodities a carrier may haul must be removed no later than December 31, 1982.

—All other restrictions must be removed no later than December 31, 1983.

—The ICC is directed to adopt liberal standards and expedited procedures for carrier petitions for removal of individual restrictions prior to the statutory deadlines. Opponents to carriers’ petitions have the burden of proof to show why a restriction should not be removed.

—The ICC is directed to develop a program allowing existing carriers to increase each year their operating authority by a limited amount without ICC approval. The ICC program shall emphasize increased opportunities to serve small towns.

Interestingly, Carter coupled these deregulations with improved safety standards and increased penalties for safety violations. Commenters in the beer thread pointed out that there are different kinds of deregulation. Economic regulations are not the same as environmental or safety regulations even if those can have economic impacts. I think this is important to keep in mind. Similarly, a government can have very little economic regulation and still provide a generous welfare apparatus. If you glance over at the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, you’ll notice that plenty of countries with generous safety nets and high tax rates are nonetheless very economically liberal. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Carter also began deregulation of other freight and transportation industries, including rail and airline deregulation. Reagan is often credited for getting Americans on the deregulation bandwagon, but it was Carter who got the ball rolling in a very significant way.






68 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    Sigh.

  2. 2
    BR says:

    And Jimmy Carter also had it right on energy and our immediate need for energy independence. And then Saint Ronnie undid everything Carter started on that…

    And now, within 5 years, we’re basically screwed:

    http://peakoiltaskforce.net/wp.....b20101.pdf

    http://solveclimate.com/blog/2.....imate-ruin

    Edit: I should remove “basically”. When the planet goes into unstoppable warming (which used to be a sci-fi scary story, and now is virtually guaranteed), there’s no “basically” to how screwed we are.

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    You could think about deregulation, or, you could listen to the Drive-By Truckers.

    Even better, how about Blue Mountain’s great song “Jimmy Carter.”

  4. 4
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    It is also not widely known that Jimmy Carter invented much of C.B. radio slang, including “pedal to the metal” and “got your ears on.”

    OK, I made that up.

  5. 5
    NonyNony says:

    I’m not quite seeing your point? Bad regulations are bad and good regulations are good? So we should work to revise bad regulations into good ones?

    Yeah, that’s … kind of obvious. At least to anyone who isn’t trapped inside the Republican “Regulation bad! Deregulation good!” mindset. (Speaking as someone who once was trapped in the “Regulation bad! Deregulation good!” mindset a few decades back myself.) I’m fairly certain that “revise bad regulations into good ones” is a standard liberal position as well as a standard progressive position.

    It’s hard to have that stance when the choices aren’t “revise a bad regulation” vs. “keep the bad regulation” but are instead “keep the bad regulation” vs. “gut regulation entirely”. Which has, shockingly, been the actual choice given to us over the last 30 or so years that I’ve been watching politics. But no one ever said it was easy to be a liberal in the US.

  6. 6
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I cannot think of anyone who would argue with the changes you described. As someone who lives in the Dallas area, silly regulations like that are what keeps us from flying out of Love Field to wherever we want, in some strange idea of benefiting DFW Airport. I thought the point of all of this is to benefit consumers.

    There are number of places where you and I would agree, Erik, on issues like this. But what about rules like limiting the driving time of a trucker? Or requiring minimum pay, no matter how far the person has to travel?

    Let’s go a bit more abstract, though. Some countries require their communication companies to provide internet to every home in the country. We don’t, and I think that is wrong. It leaves a large number of people unable to access useful information, and, in my opinion, has contributed to the US falling behind in access speeds. I think the government should require this. What do you think?

  7. 7
    Bret says:

    I hope you realize that this isn’t exactly “deregulation,” so much as “making existing regulation work better.” They didn’t stop inspecting trucks, and let everyone just do whatever they please.

  8. 8
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Interestingly, Carter coupled these deregulations with improved safety standards and increased penalties for safety violations.

    So, uh, Carter got rid of stoopid trucking regulations and then increased smart, sensible trucking regulations in areas like safety. And in your mind, writing posts like this to this audience is making the case for what, exactly?

  9. 9
    eric says:

    @BR: It is most certainly not unstoppable. That is a fiction. If the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupts, that will almost certainly stop the warming problem. ;)

  10. 10
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @eric:

    If the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupts, that will almost certainly stop the warming problem.

    For those of us who live anywhere west of the Mississippi, if Yellowstone goes I’m sure that climate change will be the last thing on our minds for the day or so we’ll have left to think about anything at all.

  11. 11
    El Tiburon says:

    So do we blame Carter for the “deregulation” fuck-ups that got us into this current mess with the financial and oil industries?

    If you glance over at the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom,

    Yeah, will get on that as soon as I stick a rusty fork in my ear.

    E.D.: Do this for us to help us along, and I am very sincere about this – Please explain to us what it means to be a “sensible conservative” these days?

    Because no matter how you slice or dice it, I don’t think one exists, nor is it even possible. That you even begin to hint that deregulation (or small government or strong military or lower taxes) is somehow conservative, then I call bullshit.

    As a liberal, I am for smaller government, lower taxes and a strong military – AND deregulation. But as a liberal (and a sentient human being with a brain) I realize that we may need higher taxes and regulation in order to make this society we call the USA operate smoothly.

    Until then, I am afraid you just won’t be taken too seriously around here.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  12. 12
    andrew says:

    @Belafon

    Actually it doesn’t have anything to do with benefiting DFW. It was all about trying to put Southwest Airlines out of business. When Southwest decided to fly out of Love Field, the other airlines lobbied to have rules that flights out of Love Field had to land in Texas or one of the bordering states (since expanded to include Kansas, Mississippi, and Alabama).

    The funny thing is, this didn’t actually hurt Southwest at all. And the small hop is still what they use for the majority of their flights.

  13. 13
    BR says:

    @eric:

    True. Though there are lots of other mega, improbable threats like that, such as the possibility of an eruption on the Canary Islands causing a megatsunami in the Atlantic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....ure_threat

    It’s one of these things where if the threat is some singular major event that will wipe out humanity, Americans will be willing to spend trillions of dollars on preventing it. If the Canary Islands eruption were likely, we’d probably be developing the mother-of-all-nukes to demolish the island before it could cause a tsunami.

    Whereas when it’s death by a thousand cuts where the outcome is even worse, we do absolutely nothing.

    Welcome to The Long Emergency.

  14. 14
    fasteddie9318 says:

    So do we blame Carter for the “deregulation” fuck-ups that got us into this current mess with the financial and oil industries?

    I’m pretty sure you can thank the late-90s Republican Congress and Bill Clinton for both.

  15. 15
    birthmarker says:

    The Heritage Foundation–a site over to which I will not glance.

  16. 16
    Frank says:

    Carter also began deregulation of other freight and transportation industries, including rail and airline deregulation.

    Was airline deregulation really such a good idea? I realize 911 is part of it, but who really enjoys flying today?

  17. 17
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    From that “economic freedom” ranking page:

    Canada has moderate tax rates.

    That must be the other Canada, because as we all know, the one with universal health care soaks everyone with ridiculously high taxes to pay for it.

    Canada actually ranks higher in “economic freedom” on that thing than the United States does. So no, this is definitely not the Canada I kept hearing about from conservatives last year during the health care debate, not to mention since before and especially during Ronald Reagan. Maybe this is the other one, “Canada Dry” as opposed to the one that soaks you.

    I have to say that “economic freedom” index is more than a little bit funny. So someone in France who is unemployed because of the recent depression and had reliable unemployment coverage until he finds one, no possibility of going bankrupt and losing his house due to losing his health coverage because he lost his job, is less “economically free” than an American, who is in danger of losing benefits, health insurance, and of filing for chapter 11 if he becomes ill after that and possibly losing his house.

    I mean, I get what it’s saying, that starting a business is easier in the economically “free” countries (Canada being more free than we are, bear in mind) and that’s nothing to dismiss out of hand. People in France complain bitterly about too much red tape discouraging start ups. Those are the entrepreneur type though, others complain about the opposite, fearing that if the country loosened those things up too much it could become like America.

    And after the past few years, very few people are still pushing the idea of being more like America. Except people like Sarkozy (and only in limited ways even in his case) whose approval right now is somewhere south of George W Bush levels.

    I’m not saying that it’s not an interesting rating to do, but “economic freedom” pure and simple as a name is really sort of hilarious.

  18. 18
    LITBMueller says:

    I suppose a post extolling the virtues of Jimmy Carter’s deregulation in 1978 of the airline industry is next (the bill’s sponsor was none other than Ted Kennedy). Here’s a good article.

    Sure, the average ticket price has dropped (adjusted for inflation) but its not like the industry has profited from it. Aren’t all the airlines (with the exception of Southwest) operating at losses?

    Interesting….I think I’ll crack open a Billy!

  19. 19
    The Other Chuck says:

    How many countries with generous safety nets and liberalized economies also fight multiple wars around the world continuously and still pay for a reserve force to take on the rest of the world put together?

  20. 20
    burnspbesq says:

    My Regulated Industries prof in law school had been general counsel to the CAB during airline deregulation.

    As a frequent flyer for business, let me just say that if I could locate him now I would do a remake of the last scene of “Braveheart” with him in the role of William Wallace.

  21. 21
    Paul Meli says:

    Are you sure you’re a conservative?

    Even most liberals don’t talk about Carter in positive ways.

    I’m kind of fond of him myself, but then I’m a recovering conservative like John.

    Maybe the definition has just changed under our feet.

    To me conservatism means paying your bills and not buying what you can’t afford.

    Paul

  22. 22
    Dave S. says:

    At the risk of making an ad heritage argument, I would not trust any numbers coming from that outfit.

    I’m with Nony and fasteddie – what’s your point here? Unless you’re trying to make nice with the commentariat by praising Carter, which I kind of suspect will not throw them off the scent.

  23. 23
    El Tiburon says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    I’m pretty sure you can thank the late-90s Republican Congress and Bill Clinton for both.

    I had my snark-hat on.

  24. 24
    Napoleon says:

    @NonyNony:

    It’s hard to have that stance when the choices aren’t “revise a bad regulation” vs. “keep the bad regulation” but are instead “keep the bad regulation” vs. “gut regulation entirely”. Which has, shockingly, been the actual choice given to us over the last 30 or so years that I’ve been watching politics.

    This.

  25. 25
    LGRooney says:

    Two words: zoning restrictions.

    When I was doing international development, we were always looking for ways to simplify the business start-up process, to the point where we got to a 3-day maximum wait for a license at a price of around $25 while eliminating corruption along the way. As so many individuals were registering businesses, I began to scratch my head and wonder where these people were going to be doing their business because there just wasn’t much commercial real estate around.

    They didn’t need it.

    Examples:

    1) Several families had extra land and registered a restaurant business. Once they had the license and could show a bit of start-up capital, we assisted them in developing a business plan to get some funding to build the restaurant on their existing land. The neighbors didn’t complain about this prospect and instead tried to figure how they might be able to make a couple of bucks off the business, e.g., selling fresh produce, providing parking, getting a job for their kid, etc.

    2) Several decided to get kitchen carts that they could roll around the generous pedestrian areas Europeans so love (and I so miss being back here) and sell their home-cooked wares. They made money. They paid taxes. They added flavor (literal or euphemistic) to the pedestrian scene. They forced the cafes to offer better goods from their own kitchens. Or, some of them would get hired by the cafes to plant themselves in front and provide food for the patrons while splitting the revenues.

    3) Whole ground floors of apartment buildings would be bought out and turned into grocery stores to serve people living in the center so they didn’t have to drive or get on cramped public transportation or walk in stifling heat with a heavy haul.

    4) One client turned her apartment in the center into a dentist’s office and moved out of the center to live with her mother until her practice brought in enough money to buy out another apartment to expand the practice or she could buy a place in the center for living.

    No zoning problems. Of course, the lack of zoning was possible only because the people weren’t constantly in search of a way to block themselves off from their neighbors and they realized that they were all in this together. Here we seem to all be declaring ourselves little sovereigns and want our lives compartmentalized (read: stifled) in every possible way.

  26. 26
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Dave S.:

    At the risk of making an ad heritage argument, I would not trust any numbers coming from that outfit.

    But, but, but, the numbers are based on an index that, you know, the Heritage Foundation just completely yanked out of its collective ass in order to elucidate the per-country level of a concept that they also yanked out of their collective ass. You can’t deny the power of such objective facts.

  27. 27
    Bob says:

    So all this moves Carter to the “near great” category?

  28. 28
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Sorry!

  29. 29
    Robert Waldmann says:

    Thanks for the post. I had thought that I was the only enthusiast for Carter’s deregulation efforts in the blogosphere. I know much less than you do about Carter’s trucking deregulation, but I’m glad that not everyone has decided to give Reagan credit for Carter’s actions.

    However, what is a reality based guy like you doing quoting the Heritage Foundation’s “economic freedom” index ? The index measures honest competent government. In no way does it include a serious estimate of the extent of economic regulation. A key variable is time to get a licence. This measures corruption and incompetence and not regulation. It takes a long time in countries where you have to negotiate the bribes, not in countries with extensive regulation. I thought every reality based person agreed on this.

    Basically, the Heritage foundation defined the index so that successful economies were, by its plainly fraudulent ex post definition, economically free.

    I honestly don’t see how an obviously smart guy like you can fall for Heritage foundation propaganda. Look second on the 2010 list is Singapore where the fully funded pension scheme makes a large fraction of capital property of the state. If Singapore were poor, Heritage would claim that this shows how socialism failed in Singapore. Instead Singapore grew fast, so Heritage decided that economic freedom has nothing to do with public ownership of the means of production.

    The index is pure propaganda and total fraud. No serious person can pretend that it measures economic regulation.

  30. 30
    NonyNony says:

    @LGRooney:

    Two words: zoning restrictions.

    Zoning is a huge problem in US cities – huge. The only city that doesn’t seem to have this problem is … New York City. Where the zoning seems to be fairly sane because, well, there’s a limited amount of land and a whole lot of people (of course property prices are insane in NY for the same reasons, but what are you going to do?) At least some cities seem to be getting on board with the whole “hey your zoning restrictions are too tight and there’s nothing wrong with mixing light commercial office/retail space with residential space” and changing their zoning patterns.

    But zoning in suburbs intentionally seems to be designed to produce the worst possible outcomes for the suburb. Bad traffic flow that requires the maximal distance from residences and retail/office space being the most noteworthy.

  31. 31
    sven says:

    There is a perception among many conservatives that liberals are universally in favor of regulation; something which is simply not true. Deregulating the breweries has clearly been a success and I suspect one would have to look pretty far to find a liberal in favor of re-regulation. Where markets are functioning well the left is perfectly happy to live with the results.

    The frustration is that conservatives rarely show the same pragmatism when it is clear that markets are not functioning. Despite spectacular failures in the banking and health care industries conservatives are unwilling to admit successful alternatives are even possible. (see Canada and well, Canada) For them a successful market intervention is a mythical creature like unicorns and kangaroos.

  32. 32
    Josh James says:

    If I remember right, and I’m just yanking this stuff out of the back of my brain right now, Carter also has a nuclear sub named after him (or an aircraft carrier, perhaps, I’m too busy to look it up, but I think it may be a sub) by the Navy due to his fine service in uniform.

    Reagan never served, and is thought to be a warrior for all things American, and Carter’s name is often slurred by neo-cons as a coward (among other things) yet … Carter is honored by the Navy for his service in uniform.

    to call someone running for office a Jimmy Carter is a slur upon their manhood, and it’s really undeserved … Reagan gets the fighter props, and they’re not really deserved, imho.

  33. 33
    Gin & Tonic says:

    De-lurking here for a moment to add one tangent — my day job is in the motor vehicle insurance business. The de-regulation of trucking, among other things, has certainly been wonderful for insurance company fraud investigation departments. There are orders of magnitude more cases of trucking insurance fraud than there were before this. It’s spawned whole cottage industries of trucking companies that own no trucks, haulers that don’t actually haul anything, phantom loads which somehow never arrive at non-existent destinations, brokers who insure these non-existent vehicles and cargoes, it’s great.

  34. 34
    IM says:

    The economic freedom index is – at a glance – sure funny.
    Let’s lokk at Fiscal freedom in Canada, 76,7:

    Canada has moderate tax rates. The top federal income tax rate is 29 percent, and provincial rates range from 10 percent to 24 percent. The general corporate tax rate is 19.5 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and a property tax. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 33.3 percent.

    And now the fiscal freedom in the US (67,5):

    U.S. tax rates are burdensome. The top income and corporate tax rates are 35 percent. Other taxes include an estate tax and excise taxes. Additional income, sales, and property taxes are assessed at the state and local levels. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 28.3 percent.

    Because 28.3% is more burdensome than moderate 33.3%

    Half of the categories fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom are nonsense anyway.

  35. 35
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @IM:

    I feel the urge to rewrite Randy Newman:

    We’re Frenchmen, we’re Frenchmen
    And we don’t know an oil well from a hole in the ground
    We’re Frenchmen, we’re Frenchmen
    Keeping the citizens down

    Now your US citizen is an “individual”
    You see he’s got his dignity
    Over here we’re too soc ialist to realize
    That the US has set the individual free

    He’s free to get fired, go bankrupt and lose his house in New York City

    He’s free to get sick, lose his retirement account and his apartment in Southern California

    He’s free to work at MacDonald’s, not pay his mortgage and be evicted in Detroit, or Cleveland, or Washington DC

    He’s free to have no job or health coverage or retirement or savings and become homeless with his whole family in the East, Midwest, North, West and South

    They falling like leaves, for miles around

    Keeping the citizens down

  36. 36
    LGRooney says:

    @NonyNony: As I pointed out, though, there is a massive problem with our way of thinking as well. NIMBY (the cute acronym for that compartmentalization I mentioned) is one of the most pernicious defects in American society and may preclude more mixed zoning.

  37. 37
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    Is there a point to this thread?

    As I said yesterday, there are two kinds of regulation:

    Good, and bad.

    Good means necessary, appropriate, well administered, etc.

    Bad means … the opposite.

    Regulation per se is neither good nor bad. It’s the details that matter.

    If a bad regulation is removed, it does not prove anything about regulation. It proves something about badness.

    You get bad regulation by hiring bad regulators. For example, people who claim that government can’t do anything right tend to end up becoming government officials who, sure enough, can’t do anything right. Elect people who think that it can be done right, and just as important, know how to do it right. As if by magic, things will get done better, and all will live happily ever after.

    I for one welcome our new kindergarten blog overlords, who promote this kind of grade school level discussion.

    Okay everyone, time for juice and graham crackers.

    See, kids, having a bad doctor doesn’t mean that medicine is bad. It just means that some people are bad doctors. Get better doctors.

  38. 38
    Robert Waldmann says:

    Oh another thing. The insane trucking regulations were eliminated over 30 years ago. The post suggests that “economic regulation” is a bad idea.

    More recent experiments in deregulation include Gramm Leach Bliley and the commodity futures modernization act (both signed into law by Bill Clinton).

    How’s that working out ?

    Another economic regulation is the Sherman anti-trust act. That is the law under which ATT was forced to allow competition in long distance telephone service. That worked out rather well wouldn’t you say ?

    The question “is economic regulation good or bad?” is clearly too general to have a meaningful answer.

    Now the rule everything Republicans do about economic regulation is wrong has worked rather well since Senator Sherman retired. Financial deregulation was bipartisan and catastrophic. Trucking and air travel were deregulated during one of the brief periods when Democrats controlled the White House, House and Senate. It should be possible to find a case where Republicans did something not terrible about economic regulation shouldn’t it ?

    Anyone ? Bueller ?

  39. 39
    Dave S. says:

    @fasteddie9318: Oh, I don’t deny that collective of asses at all. I just don’t trust them.

  40. 40
    HyperIon says:

    @NonyNony:

    I’m not quite seeing your point? Bad regulations are bad and good regulations are good? So we should work to revise bad regulations into good ones?

    Yeah, that’s … kind of obvious. At least to anyone who isn’t trapped inside the Republican “Regulation bad! Deregulation good!” mindset.

    the (meta) point for me is this guy can’t get a gig at a right-wing web site because they would tar and feather him for penning such heresy.

    so that’s why he posting this here.

  41. 41
    delosgatos says:

    E.D.,

    Like other commenters, I’m not really grokking the point of this post.

    If you weren’t positioned as the “conservative voice” on BJ, you might have concluded your post with something like NonyNony’s comment

    It’s hard to have that stance when the choices aren’t “revise a bad regulation” vs. “keep the bad regulation” but are instead “keep the bad regulation” vs. “gut regulation entirely”. Which has, shockingly, been the actual choice given to us over the last 30 or so years that I’ve been watching politics.

    and you might have been using this example from Carter to illustrate that “liberals and progressives all want more government and more useless regulation of business” is a straw man or caricature created by the right.

    As you are however positioned as the “conservative voice”, I find myself wondering if you’ve somehow bought in to that caricature and are thinking that you’re pointing out some kind of inconsistency on the left, something like “see, even though liberals say they want more regulation, they don’t really believe it”. Or something like that.

    If that’s the case, you’re arguing against a caricature. If you’re going to make a positive contribution as the “conservative voice”, you need to do better than that.

  42. 42
    cmorenc says:

    @E.D. Kain

    If you glance over at the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, you’ll notice that plenty of countries with generous safety nets and high tax rates are nonetheless very economically liberal. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

    How interesting that several noted bastions of the philosophy that social-Darwinianism-is-for-us, high taxation-social-welfare-states-are-for-losers are near the top of the list. I’m referring to Denmark (9), the Netherlands (15), Finland (17), and Sweden (21). Yet, by the same measures Goopers/wingers apply to Obama to scream SOCIALISM! OH NO, HE’S GOING TO TURN THE US IN TO A EUROPEAN SOCIAL DEMOCRACY!, these countries should all be miserable socialist hell-holes ripe for revolutionary overthrow by their people thirsting for freedom, if only their totalitarian oppressive governments didn’t ruthlessly keep control with thuggish armies and pervasive police states. If you visit Copenhagen or Stockholm, you have to be extremely careful what you say to whom, or you’ll be arrested and renditioned off to a black hole of a gulag somewhere and never heard from again.

  43. 43
    sven says:

    @DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective: I agree, this point should be trivial but is now obscure or even controversial. This is why I think modern conservatism can be accurately described as an ideology and modern liberalism cannot.

  44. 44
    georgia pig says:

    I thought this topic got beat into the ground yesterday. What’s your point now? Carter didn’t “deregulate” the trucking industry, he “re-regulated” it so it functioned better. Idiotic rhetorical frames like “regulation vs. deregulation” permeate just about everything I see from so-called “sensible conservatives,” which is why I don’t take them seriously. The Jimmy Carter story is instructive, not of the virtues of alleged “deregulation” but of how conservative propaganda has distorted history and unfairly maligned someone who did a hell of a lot more in four years than three decades of Republican charlatans. As we speak, I’m sure sensible conservatives are hard at work preparing the rhetorical ground for the same treatment of Obama.

  45. 45
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    @sven:

    Republicans are the kind of people who would tell you not to go to the hospital if you are sick, because a lot of people die there.

    And if you think that is an exaggeration, you haven’t spent enough time hanging around Christian Scientists.

  46. 46
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    to anyone who isn’t trapped inside the Republican “Regulation bad! Deregulation good!” mindset.

    It’s not that far off. Just left of two words.

    “Bad regulation bad. Good regulation good” is the correct mantra. Republicans just miss those little subtle details.

  47. 47
    duck-billed placelot says:

    Hee! I wanted to leave a scathing comment on how E.D. seems to have confused ‘liberals’ with ‘group of people incapable of critical thinking who cleave to dogmatic reactionary positions regardless of the facts on the ground’. Or, more succinctly, that he’d confused liberals with conservatives. But y’all are on top of it already.

    Poor E.D. You’ve got a few difficult years ahead of you. Don’t worry; when you finally realize you’re a liberal, you can comfort yourself with the fact that the Party left you – and anyone else with a lick of sense.

    *edited for typos

  48. 48
    Redshift says:

    @sven: There is a perception among many conservatives that liberals are universally in favor of regulation; something which is simply not true.

    It’s part of the bizarre disorder that many conservatives are incapable of understanding that there’s a difference between disagreeing with them and believing the exact opposite. The classic example is that conservatives believe in cutting taxes as an article of faith; liberals don’t, therefore liberals love taxes!

    I wonder if this is a result of the increasing intolerance for any dissent in the conservative movement. Perhaps our resident conservative can tell me I’m just inside the opposing bubble, but I don’t believe that liberals do the same thing with conservatives. We mock them for things they actually believe that are ridiculous, not by pretending they believe the exact opposite of what we do.

  49. 49
    LanceThruster says:

    Another toast to James Earl!

    [to the dead trucker at the steak-eating contest].
    He called me greenhorn. I called him Tony Randall. It’s a thing we had. ~ Homer Simpson in “Maximum Homerdrive”

  50. 50
    IM says:

    The joys of deregulation. Let’s assume for a moment that this is deregulation and not, say, regulatory reform.

    Isn’t it a bit odd that the last example of successful deregulation in the US is thirty years in the past?

  51. 51
    numbskull says:

    @NonyNony: I tried to get E.D. to have an epiphany yesterday along these lines. I think I was too succinct and subtle.

  52. 52
    numbskull says:

    @Frank: Airline deregulation was good for a lot of people for some time. I recall that flying from my hometown to, e.g., Boston used to be expensive and difficult. For a long time after dereg, there really was more competition and it worked reasonably like it should. There were more airlines flying more flights and tickets were cheaper. I could get back and forth to Boston relatively quickly, often nonstop, and for much less money.

    Nowadays, the inexpensiveness remains, but the number of connections has gone way up and many smaller cities struggle with having airline service at all. And a lot of airlines have gone out of business (Eastern, TWA) or have shrunk to being regionals (Pan Am) or have been consolidated (Delta/NWA) such that there is now much less competition.

    So again we see: Good regulations are good and bad regulations are bad.

  53. 53
    Ash Can says:

    Unlike all the other commenters here who are breaking their necks trying to find things not to like about Kain’s writing, I thought this post, like yesterday’s beer-deregulation piece, was very interesting. Jimmy Carter isn’t exactly thought of these days as an effective president, let alone in the area of deregulation, of all things. The fact is, though, these successes are on his record. Imagine if the Republican Party of Carter’s years was the Republican Party of Clinton’s years, or, heaven forbid, the Republican Party of today. I’m guessing Carter either would have been buried three months out of the gate, or would have gotten so pissed off he’d have ridden herd on the congressional GOP, and the course of American history would have been altered forever. Kind of an interesting what-if.

  54. 54
    brantl says:

    @Robert Waldmann: “More recent experiments in deregulation include Gramm Leach Bliley and the commodity futures modernization act (both signed into law by Bill Clinton).”

    And with cuteness snuck in by Phil Gramm, last seen as McGramp’s economic advisor; the cuteness he snuck in were the disastrous, unbacked CDO’s and CDS’s.

    Not really Bill’s fault, but I wished he’d watched that a hell of a lot closer.

  55. 55
    numbskull says:

    Unlike all the other commenters here who are breaking their necks trying to find things not to like about Kain’s writing,

    Possibly how E.D.’s posts are viewed has to do with age. I am old enough to have lived through Carter’s administration with my eyes more or less wide open, so E.D.’s posts are not all that interesting as news, but maybe just a reminder. OTOH, if you grew up in the last 30 years and so have only been “taught” that Carter = bad, then I can certainly see the interest. Please be clear, I’m certainly not dinging anyone for being too young, I’m pointing out that the GOP and the MSM have been very effective at burying Carter. They guy was not a saint nor a magician, but he was a much, much better President than St. Ronnie.

  56. 56
    suzanne says:

    @Redshift:

    It’s part of the bizarre disorder that many conservatives are incapable of understanding that there’s a difference between disagreeing with them and believing the exact opposite.

    In my experience (and I’m gonna sound like a snooty effete overeducated elitist bastard, but that’s why I’m so charming), it’s because most conservatives REALLY AREN’T THAT SMART. The vast majority of the conservatives I know are completely unaware (and I’m not sure if that’s willful or not) that we live in a world with countless overlapping social systems, and therefore, problems in our society need to be addressed on a systemic level, and no amount of inspirational exhortations to pick oneself up by one’s bootstraps or pleas to personal morality and responsibility are going to be effective. All they see is what “worked” for them, or their buddy, or their daddy—but are completely oblivious to the intersectional circumstances at play.

    The world is a fucking complicated place, and uncomplicated minds are completely unqualified to have any positions of power or leadership over others. Is it any wonder that the more educated one is, the more likely one is to be a liberal/progressive? (And then they dismiss academic institutions as “soci alist factories”, completely ignoring the fact that people who are more intelligent on the whole are more likely to be more successful in academia than those who are not.) This is why, in the “stupid versus evil” debate, I generally tend toward “stupid”.

  57. 57
    Martin says:

    @numbskull: Good and bad regulation aren’t so easy to tell apart, however.

    The consequence of airline deregulation took 25 years to play out. Yes, it’s broadly been a good effort, but the state of the nations air infrastructure today is a disaster. Most airlines are not profitable, safety is quite clearly being compromised as pilots are sometimes getting paid less than cabbies, and there’s no money flowing from air travel into upgrading airports, air traffic control, investing in safer/more reliable/more efficient equipment, and so on. It’s been a race to the bottom since the early 80s and when a system shock arrives, such as 9/11, or >$100 bbl oil, there’s no resilience left in the system to weather these problems.

    The industry desperate needs some of that regulation back, or we’ll find ourselves 5 decades behind the rest of the world from an infrastructure standpoint because unlike other nations, the feds don’t provide the infrastructure, the industry does – and they’re fucking broke and have been for a decade now.

    I’m a little disappointed at some of the responses to this post, though. Here we were promised a non-insane conservative, who here comes through with a quite thoughtful post which could have given all the regulation credit to Reagan (because Reagan did all the good things that happened in the 20th century) but instead gives it to the Democrat. I learned something here and I’m a bit more encouraged that there are conservatives out there that can acknowledge good ideas without banging the political drum at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you call it deregulation or reregulation, it’s painfully apparent that it was an elimination of regulation that was designed to protect markets and corporations and an increase in regulation that was designed to protect the public and society at large. And that was both a shift in regulatory philosophy among Democrats and a successful effort to reduce the influence of government on the market that was led by Democrats.

    I think that’s a pretty important thing to bring attention to, because the socialist meme is designed to raise questions of whether Democrats are longing to a return to that kind of a regulatory structure. That came up during the auto bailouts and HCR, and it’s quite clearly a lie. If Democrats want credit for their regulatory efforts, they need to do a bit better job of making clear what their governing philosophy is on that front, because their opposition is more than content to paint a picture of a party that’s looking to use regulation to protect organized labor interests and key markets. There are plenty of people old enough to remember what things used to be like and they’re not hearing the Democratic plan loudly enough.

  58. 58
    Martin says:

    Can someone get post 55 out of moderation. I screwed up on the ‘s’ word.

  59. 59
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Ash Can:

    Unlike all the other commenters here who are breaking their necks trying to find things not to like about Kain’s writing, I thought this post, like yesterday’s beer-deregulation piece, was very interesting.

    No one is “breaking their necks” trying to find things not like about E.D. Kain’s writing.

    The absurdity is on the front page for everyone to see.

  60. 60
    Marmot says:

    @Redshift:

    It’s part of the bizarre disorder that many conservatives are incapable of understanding that there’s a difference between disagreeing with them and believing the exact opposite. The classic example is that conservatives believe in cutting taxes as an article of faith; liberals don’t, therefore liberals love taxes!

    That’s how I read this post too. “You liberals stubbornly resist deregulation. But witness this regulation that was bad, and which was replaced by good regulation. Surprisingly, other regulations can also be either bad or good!”

    Anyone know if there’s a name for that kind of thinking? That whole “you disagree, and therefore hold the exact opposite view” fallacy? Any studies on it?

    The worst version of it was pre- and early Iraq War, from 2003 on. Either you craved bloody war or you didn’t support the troops, back then. What was E.D. writing at the time, out of curiosity?

  61. 61
    Sarcastro says:

    Reagan never served, and is thought to be a warrior for all things American, and Carter’s name is often slurred by neo-cons as a coward (among other things) yet … Carter is honored by the Navy for his service in uniform

    The Navy doesn’t pick the names. And Reagan is honored as well. USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) is a Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine commissioned in 2004. The nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was commissioned in 2001.

    I, personally, detest naming warships after people. Any people. But Reagan especially since he didn’t serve in combat, much less in the Navy. The USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) at least honors a former Navy aviator and USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) honors a Navy officer and carrier crewman who survived Halsey’s typhoon.

  62. 62
    Sarcastro says:

    OK, back to subject.

    Is Carter who I blame when an 18-wheeler gets stuck on The Dragon?

  63. 63
    Comrade Luke says:

    Balloon Juice feature request: per-author rss feeds.

  64. 64
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Marmot:

    Anyone know if there’s a name for that kind of thinking? That whole “you disagree, and therefore hold the exact opposite view” fallacy?

    It should be called the “pregnant negative strawman fallacy” if it isn’t already.

  65. 65
    Batocchio says:

    you’ll notice that plenty of countries with generous safety nets and high tax rates are nonetheless very economically liberal. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

    Of course not, but it depends on how you define “freedom” and “liberal,” and also not equivocating on those definitions. Progressive taxation is normally considered economically “liberal” by American conservatives and vilified as such (or “fiscally liberal” if you prefer), but in your post, you seem to be calling low taxation and low regulation economically “liberal.” Perhaps you can explain yourself more, or link a post or two explaining your world view on economics?

    And do you seriously consider the Heritage Foundation to be intellectually honest? There have been a few choice examples from the index you linked skewered already upthread. Like most conservative think tanks, Heritage has been shilling two key lies for decades now – that the New Deal was a failure, and Reaganomics have been great. (Reaganomics have been great – but only for wealthy individuals and corporations, who coincidentally fund conservative think tanks and their fantasy-based pseudo-scholarship). Hell, the glibertarian crowd at Reason, similarly funded, holler about freedom while advocating for more of a plutocracy (the real road to serfdom). Some are useful idiots who don’t realize it, and some actually view it as a good thing.

  66. 66
    Dr. Squid says:

    @Josh James: Let’s invade Grenada! A-Gain!!

  67. 67
    veralynn says:

    thank you for this post. I have always thought President Carter was a much better President than Reagan. I did not know how about this though. It just reconfirms what I remember when I was young about him. I can’t believe 30 years isn’t enough for the people of this country to see that. Damn Reagan for bringing us to this place.

  68. 68
    star says:

    I’m pretty sure you can thank the late-90s Republican Congress and Bill Clinton for both.

    While I’m sure you may not realize it, the only balanced budget this nation has had in over 30 years, was during the Clinton administration. George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan left a massive deficit, but by the end of the Clinton era, there was actually a surplus. So, when George Jr got a hold of it, it went to hell in a handbasket. And you currently see those results.

    While some of the changes made to regulations were nothing more than common sense and necessary, others did nothing but stagnate freight rates thus stagnating wages as well. An older driver told me that in 1972 he ( a truck driver), could book loads for $2.45/ mile. Today, an owner-operator is lucky if they can find a load for $2.00/ mile.

    De-regulation allowed too many companies into the industry, in turn driving down freight rates to an all time low. While great for the consumer, it does nothing for the truck drivers.

    At the same time that our wages are being driven down, safety requirements, fees, and fines are being increased. The entire set of rules regarding transportation needs to be re-written. There are also regulations regarding 3rd party leasing in the trucking industry which need to be reviewed and re-written. Rules which applied 30 years ago, when people were deemed to be “honest” and “just”, don’t apply today.

    Several people pointed out deficiencies within the airline industry, and the deterioration thereof. With training requirements in trucking being much more relaxed, than in the airline industry, how safe are your families while they are on the roads of America?

    While Clinton facilitated a quasi-recovery of “Reaganomics”, we face an arduous path recovering from “Bushenomics.”

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