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Monday, October 25, 2021

California Drove Truckers Out of Business. Now Store Shelves Are Empty

After a long cross-country flight, I made it out of LAX and into an Uber. I wasn’t in the mood to talk, but the driver was. And hearing that I was a journalist, he wanted to tell me a story. I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years, but this may have been the most important one I let go.

He hadn’t always been driving an Uber at 11:30 at night. Not all that long ago he used to have his own business with 7 trucks before he was bankrupted by California’s insane regulations.

I listened, but didn’t pay enough attention. The impact of California’s Democrat legislative supermajority on truckers was just another data point alongside what was happening to freelancers of all kinds and a lot of small businesses. Stories like this were everywhere and there was little interest in them even in conservative circles outside the tarnished golden state.

Back then we still lived in a world where you could walk into a thousand stores with fully stocked shelves. People ordered from Amazon and expected its burgeoning last mile delivery service to make products magically appear overnight. Just in time inventory systems were more efficient and any day now products would be delivered by self-driving cars or aerial drones.

2020 and 2021 have given this Big Tech fantasy world and the rest of us a good kicking.

The massive supply chain mess that’s leaving stores empty and orders unfulfilled doesn’t have a single point of failure, but dozens of them. China’s energy shortages, the overhyped predictive powers of Big Data, the fragility of the global economy, fuel costs, and welfare state worker shortages are all players. But California’s truck bans are a key link in the great failure chain.

While I was riding home that night, California trucking companies were going bankrupt at a rapid rate. Few outside the industry were paying attention or understood what that might mean.

2019 was described as a “bloodbath” for the trucking industry with 640 trucking companies across the country filing for bankruptcy in just the first half of the year. Thousands of truck drivers were left unemployed. Many went into the expanding last mile delivery business, some as contractors for Amazon. But California truckers and businesses had their own special woes.

Two years ago, Governor Newsom signed the Democrat supermajority's Assembly Bill 5 into law. While AB5 was billed as a crackdown on Uber and Lyft, forcing the companies to treat l freelance contractors as employees, the gig economy companies pushed Proposition 22 so that they were the only ones exempt from the law. (A Democrat judge has since illegally blocked the approved ballot measure while falsely claiming that it was unconstitutional.)

AB5 however was less about Uber than it was about outlawing freelance employees in order to force them into unions. The union power grab inconvenienced Uber and Lyft, but crushed freelance workers in a variety of fields including journalism. One of the fields was trucking.

Over the summer, the California Trucking Association actually went to the Supreme Court to fight AB5 and allow owners and operators to use independent contractors. The CTA listed 70,000 owner operators. In the years since AB5, Ubers have become scarcer and more expensive, which is what the law was actually designed to do, but the consequences to the trucking industry have been far worse albeit invisible to most people until now. While truckers are still protected from AB5, many in the industry are not willing to bet their future on SCOTUS.

AB5 was not only the assault on the trucking industry by California Democrats who were aggressively trying to unionize the industry and to impose environmental regulations on it.

Last year, the California Air Resources Board issued a press release boasting that it had taken a "bold step to reduce truck pollution". The bold step required switching to electric trucks.

"We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel," Jared Blumenfeld, California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection, sneered.

Jared and California certainly showed the world something.

While the ultimate truck ban was scheduled for 2045, an initial phase-in of 5% to 9% begins in 2024. Last year, California's DMV began refusing to register thousands of trucks with an estimated 100,000 trucks under threat. With "green" trucks costing $70,000 more, this was a non-starter for already troubled independent owner-operators and even larger companies.

That was part of the plan.

California Democrats and their environmentalist special interests had set out to crush the state’s ports and trucking industry. Had everything gone as planned, this would have been a slow and gradual process. Costs would have crept up and deliveries would have fallen off without an immediate catastrophic impact. But then the pandemic and its consequences arrived.

Business at California’s ports dropped during the pandemic. The loss of traffic convinced trucking companies and owner operators who were already battered by AB5 and the green truck ban that it was better to just downsize or pull out entirely. And when port activity rebounded, there was a huge hole in the delivery infrastructure that backed up the entire system.

Biden called for ports to operate around the clock, but that’s not going to magically bring back thousands of trucks or truckers. California Democrats still haven’t changed their regulations and without that, there’s no incentive or even legal structure that would allow trucks to operate.

The resulting disaster is likely to accelerate the ongoing shift of shipping from California ports. Democrats imposed their green shakedown not only on truckers, but on shipping. With companies moving to Texas, Houston was already becoming a more appealing alternative. It’s now at capacity as everyone is looking for alternatives to the California economic disaster area.

But much of our imports and exports still depend on the California bottleneck that begins with Communist China and ends in Communist California. The red-to-red pipeline has savaged our economy and wrecked imports and exports. Newsom’s survival and the Dem legislative supermajority which passes more extreme leftist regulations every session means that things will only get worse. A radical party that actively seeks to dismantle the economy is in power in Sacramento and its regulations have the ability to hold our entire economy hostage.

What happens in California unfortunately doesn’t stay there unless it’s waiting on a ship.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

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Thank you for reading.


  1. They want to crush the port industry and that is one of California's big industries. I want to ask 'what are they thinking?!' but I know they aren't.

  2. there is a plan to build up the port of Mazatlan, on Mexico's Pacific coast. its closer from laredo and mcallen , texas to mazatlan than it is to oklahoma. the distance from the pacific to the middle of america is far less than from california. and mexico and texas have no such foolish leftist daydreamers to prevent transportation of goods by truck. a new rail line is even being built. california is putting itself out of business.

  3. Anonymous26/10/21

    Freelance drivers, writers, workers of all kinds
    are true American heroes. Often with only personal
    abilities and energy, they fill market needs by
    excellent service. Vast American freedom afforded
    them that rare boundless opportunity to realize
    their dreams. It did and they did.

    That was then. Slam the opportunity door with
    oppressive regulation, and we’re just like the
    rest of the third world. Vague notions of “fiscal
    decline” rest on the bones of countless Freelance
    Dreams. Stalin was wrong: A million deaths are
    a million tragedies, not a statistic.


  4. AislaPS26/10/21

    These " Letters From America" are FAR more important to what remains of Free Europe, that you may ever know.
    We can't thank you enough for them, we pass them around and discuss what may yet save us from the fate of the Federal Clustafukk, currently in full sway on your coasts.
    Keep them coming.We know God's good people aren't done yet, and you exemplify the Truth in your fearless critiques.
    Little did I ever think that ,given a choice between China and America; your elites would purposefully and wantonly prefer the CCP to restoring the west's global beacon on the hill that America used to represent.
    Guess when an election can be so brazenly stolen by your UN creeps, when your law and political safeguards turn out to be razor wire that's slashing the good of your nation?
    Can only pray for you. And we do.

    1. Anonymous26/10/21

      Dear AISLAPS; I love your love of Liberty!
      When our world looks so dark, another human
      who appreciates the Spirit of Western Life
      gives me hope. Courage, friend. Charlie

    2. AislaPS28/10/21

      So kind Charlie.
      We in Britain love the very idea of America. Always have, always will.
      We hate how a few yoonitunes have taken your great nation hostage, and with so little fightback.
      Yuri Bezhmenov and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn told your country of the risks to your existance, we in Britain got the memo from you.
      We think your country was stocked with the hungry and persecuted , political and religious refugees. You KNOW that freedom costs.
      Unlike the Australians who were prison guards that stayed on, as the victims of petty criminal offences complied with their turnkeys.
      And we see the result today. Melbourne must never be a reality in the USA, if you have to give your west coast to Haiti or Mexican cartels, then ensure you keep your guns. For YOU are God's friends.God Bless the USA.

    3. Anonymous29/10/21

      AISLAPS; The game seems to be to find our
      virtues, and flip them to vulnerabilities:
      The Golden Rule, Turning the Other Cheek,
      Benefit of the Doubt, Help the Underdog,
      Marquis of Queensbury, Geneva Convention.

      Enemies and too many local politicians prefer
      Machiavelli, Besmenov, Sun Tsu, Alinsky.
      Our vain willful avoidance of this bitter
      truth blinds us. Unbridled retaliation
      to such enemies and tactics is true virtue.
      Churchill, Thatcher, Reagan, Trump say it
      best. Long live Western Civilization!


    4. There still is a "Free Europe"?
      Where is that please as I, living in Europe, can't find it..

  5. We should thank California since they're a firm and incontrovertible case that proves this is what the left wants for the rest of America....and the world: Dystopia!

  6. They want a green world. They are getting impatient. They don't care how many people are ruined in the process. Looking back 500 years from now they can pat themselves on the back for their wisdom. You need to crack a few eggs to make an omelette you know.

  7. Anonymous27/10/21

    "But much of our imports and exports still depend on the California bottleneck that begins with Communist China and ends in Communist California."

    Perhaps the most succinct statement of the problem possible.

  8. Shipping companies will not leave their ships out there forever. they will eventually move to other State ports. They have contracts now but the California Ports are losing their ability to enforce those contracts. Time heals all wounds.

  9. Anonymous1/12/21

    Real raw news see a democrat got arrested biden handler. why the ships are on the water in calif he got arrested nov 3oth and explains the damage. he alot of info and newson is going to tribunial dec 18th the one you see now a double im real sick of seeing the doubles now DEAD.
    a patriot comment



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