Saturday, November 06, 2010

Ignorance is "bliss". And hot.

The first academic study I co-authored looked into Trucker CB languages.  Among all the regional variances we found, one particular style of speaking became so dominant, in fact---to the point of shouting over all the other voices, that it has literally shuttered the airwaves in many parts of the country.  This dominant language is the realm of the Super Truckin' Chicken Hauler and the only requirement to speak this language seems to be an embrace of ignorance so mind boggling that communication becomes and is impossible.  It is the language of anarchy and oppression. 

For the record, Chicken Haulers are most known for running frozen poultry between the mid south and all points outside Arkansas. Indeed, in the brilliant world of chicken lit truckin' there's a sayin'--- "that there ain't no feelin' like chicken mobilin'."  Catchy huh?

And what's happened since the CB became the tool for the tool-less and the Chicken Hauler became the big kid on the boulevard, block, and recently the blogs?  Or rather the most clueless one?

In the trucking community, the dominant channels are 17 (I-5), 19 (East West) and 21 (The Grapevine). Only in the most quiet and isolated regions of the country have the Chicken Haulers yet to reach dominance. And now it looks like the rest of the nation has copied the truckers with this sad, sad feat. We are in the ruinous grasp of politicians who are really, at their base, nothing more than glorified chicken haulers with unlimited access to tanning booths.

A dismal fall.  Deregulation has resulted in a wage structure that is so harsh, most drivers don't even begin to make the federal minimum wage.  They work on average close to a hundred hours a week, have no holiday pay, little overtime protection, and they wait, uncompensated, sometimes for days, just to get their load on or off. They can't afford to quit moving and they can't afford to remain running hammer down.  They literally can no longer afford any of the options left to them.  They've reached a sort of no man's land which outsiders would easily peg as the final destination of ignorance.

What does trucking have to do with article below?  I see a lot of similarities. And, thanks to "the folks"---the faux "populistesta's" like all the pundit commentators ranting on FOX, chicken hauler land is where the rest of us are heading. 

Most bad things are trial ballooned in the trucking industry.  Bio-metric id's. Twenty four seven credit monitoring of employees and state-to-state real time tracking by law enforcement.  Welcome to the sick new world of employee health data bases that employees authorize at pre-hire that will then be available to all other member companies, forever. Welcome to Ten Year Employment Records that are impossible to correct once errrors land on them.  Welcome to random drug screens.  Welcome home to getting one day at home every couple of months and ever greater productivity exchanged for ever decreasing wages.

Way hot, right?  Don't you wish you had a chicken mobile now?  Ain't "American Exceptional ism" dandy?

What deregulation ushered in was not prosperity for the working man but the beginning of the era of ignorance.  Unions failed, living standards plunged, and one of the most vital portions of the nations economic bloodline became filled with artery clogging issues.  Truckers have fought off Mexican off shoring and outsourcing of our jobs for decades, and we've swallowed enough free trade crap to realize it's not a win-win for us.  We fought this battle alone until radiologists and architects started seeing their jobs outsourced, and factory after factor closed, went south or set up shop overseas. Only in the last decade has the rest of the nation clued in.

You'd think the Chicken Mobiler's would be the loudest voices singing protest songs in the "We Shall Overcome" choir; especially after having witnessed such economic devastation.  You'd think they'd tell Rush and Palin and all the other free trade, deregulation losers just where they could plunge their anti big government, pro corporate rhetoric.

But here we are 30 years later and those gear jammin', ignorant mid southerners, the proud chicken haulers whom now see a life expectancy that is 18 years shorter than any other profession and 13 years less than the macro population, they just can't get enough of the Tea Party Express.

This same crowd literally goes red state the minute anyone tries to point out just how well ignorance has served them.  They salivate over the perceived victim hood and tears of the likes of Rush, Beck, and Hannity. Meanwhile truck repo's continue to climb, as single-wide foreclosures and trucking company shut downs roll through the industry like the plague.

Just before Christmas in 2009, Arrow Trucking based out of Tulsa OK shuttered their doors, stranding drivers all over the country and it took the non-trucking social network of FACEBOOK to get folks home.  I realize that Arrow was a flat bedding carrier comprised of stick haulers and the like, but still, these issues are rampant throughout the industry.  Hundreds of carriers have gone bankrupt and the bounced paychecks of hard working drivers hardly found mention in any of the press blurbs. 

You want bullying?  I got your bullying. Its not just ignorant zealots scaring the hell out of their peers in schools, its the Club for Growth and the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Association pushing policies that leave only ruin in their wake.

Thanks to deregulation, and the purposeful castration of employee safeguards by these forces, most of Arrow's drivers had no recourse. The final kick-in-the-ass to these drivers surfaced when officials discovered that Arrow Trucking had been reselling equipment to drivers under lease purchase programs but, get this---it was equipment that Arrow Trucking itself did not own.  This happens all the time, through out the industry, and the so-called lease purchase practise within trucking is just as arcane and evil as the sub prime practises of the banks that everyone now agrees contributed to our current state of melt down.  How is it legal that a trucking company can resell equipment it itself does not own?  Many drivers answer an employee wanted ad, travel thousands of miles to the home operating terminal, only to be tricked into these scams.  And there is no recourse, anywhere.  They've got no money to get home, don't have the resources to fight the negative notation that will now appear on their 10 year employment history, and so they sign themselves into the ponzi scheme of a lease purchase life.

Yet to the Chicken Hauler set, red eyed, chromed up and three payments behind---you know them who ain't seen a doctor since the last DOT med card re-up, life is still dang good--- as long as you get rid of them liberals.  Or at least they sure want you to believe this nonsense as they mouth off all up and down the Interstates.

And they penis extend this philosophy, with their CB antennas facing forward, their large car petercar hoods extending into the next state, their twanged, amplified, roger beeped excesses rampant on the CB, all across the land.  They dominate the electronic airwaves and there is no room or opportunity for discourse.

To more educated or realistic drivers, say those who originate from other parts of the industry, the CB radio is now equated with anarchy, ignorance, and hate.  I don't use the radio much anymore, nor do most of the drivers I know.  They've shuttered it and no longer participate.  Yet even doing this, one can't escape the influence of this group and how proudly ignorant now also equates to proudly poor. Smart drivers are stuck competing against the stupid ones, and with the decks of deregulation so stacked, most smart drivers are ditching the industry. Trucking company management gets this and uses the supply and demand of trickle down ignorance to their advantage.  They complain of a driver shortage and yet do everything they can to make sure that no sane person would ever want to be a part of this rolling sweatshop.  Which it is.

Still, what I find most disturbing is that this trend, the dominance of "chicken speak" is no longer unique to trucking.  Ignorance, profound and wide spread, has left us with idiots and crooks at the helm once again.  Those who empowered the banks, the bail outs, the deregulation, the lopsided free trade anarchy, are now back in control of the House.  Those most devastated by these policies have re-empowered their captors. Sadly the recent election seems to have made the ignorantti outside the trucking industry look just as compliant as the chicken haulers within. 

Unfortunately, the rest of the nation doesn't have the luxury of an "off" switch nor can we change the channel.  We are stuck with them and they, it seems by the wide margins found in the last election, are us.

An Update: The current issue of Landline Magazine reports the details of a trial currently in deliberations in MN.   It is indicative of the disdain power brokers have for the average working man. If this precedent holds, it won't be long before these sorts of enforcement practises spread to other states and target all motorists.  After all, there's money to be made.

According to the plaintiffs, the State of Minnesota set up check points at state scales in which troopers vehicles would park in front of a truckers rig, disco lights lit, and conduct a "fatigue study".  The study asked such question as to the last sexual encounter, last bath, last review of a Playboy Magazine.  Based on answers to these questions, a law enforcement officer would then determine if the trucker was "tired".  If the driver was found to be "tired", he was slapped with an out of service order and spent the next ten hours detained at the scale without access to food, water, or rest rooms. 

During this highly not scientific exercise, 66% of drivers were found to be "tired", slapped with citations, and put of service.  In fact so unscientific was the study, leading fatigue researchers testified that the criteria behind this survey had no validity and could not assess a driver's fitness for duty. Furthermore, it turns out that the State of MN did not have jurisdiction or authority to conduct these tests. That didn't matter though, they went ahead with the road checks without statutory authority, cited many drivers, causing untold delays in time sensitive shipments and  many of these drivers were ultimately fired.

The Owners and Operators Independent Drivers Association, a 150,000 member driver organization sued.  At the conclusion of the six day trial held in September, the judge , Donovan W. Frank stated the following--- especially after learning that the training procedures to train these field officers equated truckers with pictures of a disheveled Saddam Hussein. Judge Frank muttered that if he had not seen the entire affair with his own eyes he would not have believed it. 

"It's way out of bounds...The fact that someone hasn't been disciplined and reprimanded, the Saddam Hussein, anybody in the highway patrol isn't completely outraged that such a reference---at best it's unprofessional, at worst it's rank racism---it's shocking to me when I saw that." (Landline, Nov 2010)

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