Truckers Provide a Good Illustration of Regulatory Complexity

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Via Stephen Green comes Matthew Garnett’s explanation of the four clocks that regulations impose on truckers.  The complexity provides a direct and straightforward illustration of the hoops through which all businesses have to jump, whether they’re this noticeable or more subtle:

The biggest principle to keep in mind is that when any one of the “clocks” runs out, you can no longer drive legally. Once you start the clock by going on-duty, you have eight hours before you must stop driving and take a 30-minute break.

Also, once you start your clock, you have now started a nonstop 14-hour window in which you must get all the driving done you need to for that day. If you get stuck at a shipper for three hours, you now have only 10 hours to drive. Which brings us to your “11”: In any given 14-hour on-duty period, you are only allowed to drive legally for 11 hours within that 14-hour period. In addition, in any eight-day period, you are only allowed to be on-duty (not driving and driving) for a total of 70 hours. Hence, your “70.” (This week, I made it back home with only one hour on my 70… I was cutting it close.)

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The freedom to be a truck driver can basically be rephrased as a complex contracting deal for the government.  If you can make money under the government’s restraints, then you’re permitted to do so.  Otherwise, you just can’t do it.

Put that way, it’s actually a bit like one of those marketing-and-pyramid-scheme arrangements.  With some combination of getting people to shop through “your” Web page, selling the core products of the organization, and dragging other people into the scheme, you can make some money.  If you can’t make money, well, it must not be for you, because it’s all supposed to be easy.

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