I was vaguely aware that there used to be more regulation on trucking, but I'd never really thought much about it until I read this Slate article titled "Will robotic trucks be sweatshops on wheels?"
the other day. (First mistake: reading a Slate piece. Also, Betteridge's Law of Headlines.) tl:dr: Trucking regulation improved safety, service quality, and equity, and trucking jobs were good jobs, and when we repealed trucking regulation, trucking jobs became less-well-paid and truckers had to work longer hours. The author does state "Prior to deregulation in the 1980s, trucking companies, known as carriers, needed licenses, known as authorities, from the Interstate Commerce Commission to haul particular goods to and from particular locations," but that's about it.
I went and did a little research, and holy crap, that description barely scratches the surface of regulation. Firstly, trucking regulation was instituted in 1935, mostly at the behest of railroad companies, which had been losing business to them (and apparently some established trucking companies who wanted to block new competition). And yes, the heart of the regulation was that trucking companies had to apply for "authorities" (technically, Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity
) from the Interstate Commerce Commission to haul specific goods between specific locations.
Back in 1935 they could get an authority if they had documented proof they'd already been serving a particular market (and apparently the ICC was very strict about what counted as proof); thereafter they could only get an authority by applying to the ICC and showing that that market was unserved. But the ICC would first ask existing carriers if they had any interest in that authority and would deny the application if they said yes, which effectively blocked new carriers even in routes that were currently unserved. The ICC was hostile to mergers and acquisitions between carriers, and to the transfer of authorities; they could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars when they did change hands. And the limited nature of authorities meant there was a lot of inefficiency in this horse-trading: if you had an authority to go from Spokane to Columbus, but you wanted to go to Dallas and couldn't get the authority, your best option might be to try and find somebody with the authority to go from Columbus to Dallas!
Also, carriers had to file pricing proposals with the ICC 30 days before they went into effect, and any carrier who complained could block the new pricing. Not that it mattered too much, because in 1948, carriers were explicitly exempted from the antitrust laws and encouraged to set uniform rates, from which they could not discount more than a set percentage! And - although it seems like most authors don't want to go into this too much - the very closed nature of the business seems to have empowered the Teamsters and the Mafia. No wonder it was high-paying: it was literally a damn cartel. I had no idea we had such a frankly Soviet system of regulation here; I can only hope that some day the hospital industry gets its turn.
https://www.estes-express.com/about/his ... regulation
https://www.insuremyrig.com/history-of- ... f-trucking
https://www.freightwaves.com/news/news/ ... mmission-3
I sort of feel like a sucker about aspiring to be intellectually rigorous when I could just go on twitter and say capitalism causes space herpes and no one will challenge me on it. - Hugh Akston