Trump Suspends Trucker Time Limits

P. Gardner Goldsmith | March 17, 2020

It’s been intolerable for nearly a century, and now, for at least a brief period, President Trump is giving long-haul truckers a respite from a draconian federal statute. As Jack Davis reports for WesternJournal:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Friday announced that a 1938 law regulating the hours of service for truck drivers was being waived on a national basis to battle the coronavirus. The agency said this was (the) first time the rule had ever been waived throughout the country.

So nice, those euphemistic NewSpeak titles the politicians give their bureaucracies… The FMCSA is ostensibly about “safety”, yet there’s nothing in the US Constitution allowing the feds to handle roads anywhere except inside Washington, DC, or in Territories. As with most other FDR policies, the creation of the bureau to “administrate” travel on highways not only runs outside the parameters that are supposed to constrain the federal government, it’s been used to force trucking companies and unions to play nice with Washington.

As Davis notes, the statute “currently forbids truck drivers from driving more than 11 hours during a 14-hour work period. After that, drivers are required by law to have 10 hours of down time.”

So Trump is changing the game, kind of.

The waiver, issued by Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, exempts truckers hauling medicine and other supplies necessary to battle the outbreak of the virus, FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said.

But it’s just a waiver, and, of course, within the above quote, we can see that there will continue to exist a Department of Transportation, and the hassles of all its other mandates, and their costs to our wallets and liberties remain.

It’s important to draw long-term lessons from contemporary stories about US, state, and local governments. In the case of these arbitrary rules, it’s clear that truckers encounter great difficulty doing their jobs and paying the bills when they can’t run longer than a period of time capped by politicians telling them how to live and work. The problem has been so pervasive that many truckers have left the field, and others engaged in a massive protest in April of 2019.

The problem also costs all of us at the retail level.

And it is, as I noted, unconstitutional.

It’s a misreading of the co-called “Interstate Commerce” clause of the US Constitution, which is found in Article One, Section Eight, and allows Congress to “… regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

As James Madison noted, the clause was written to allow States as organizations (capital “S”) to turn to Congress in the case of trade disputes, not to allow for federal regulation of anything traveling over state borders. As I noted in my video about the April, 2019, trucker protest, Madison said this about the purpose of the Interstate Commerce clause:

Were these (States) at liberty to regulate the trade between state and state, it must be foreseen that ways would be found out, to load the articles of import and export, during the passage through their jurisdiction, with duties that would fall on the makers of the latter, and the consumers of the former.

But FDR neither cared for economics or the meaning of the supposed US rules.

At least President Trump is ready to acknowledge the practically detrimental effects of these kinds of top-down controls, even if he’s not prepared to recognize their anti-constitutional stance. Such a move could open a door to further freedom, as people start to see how onerous and anti-freedom the mandates truly are.

Any sensible analysis of the FDR era mandates thrown over truckers shows that these mandates are patently unconstitutional.

Trump’s move might let more people take a peek, and understand the truth.