I wrote about FMCSA’s “Quick Strike” campaign against small bus companies back in February, 2014. This is DOT’s (remember DOT=FMCSA) war against anybody that transports passengers. They are aggressively auditing all of these carriers, and putting as many as possible out of business for any and all violations. I call it their “Death Strike” campaign.
It has been brought to my attention that a libertarian website called Reason.com has also posted two articles about FMCSA’s bus war. This is why we libertarians complain the media is entirely controlled by Democrats and statists. I am a libertarian, and I had never heard of Reason.com. Well, I have it bookmarked now.
Their first article was written back in March, 2014 about Southeastern Tours, formerly of North Carolina. They were audited in August, 2013 as part of the “Death Strike”. DOT uncovered a variety of paperwork violations, as well as two buses with Out of Service mechanical defects. As a result, in October, 2013, DOT pulled Southeastern Tours’ authority, placing them out of business.
Southeastern then entered “Bus Company Hell”, which is a place reserved for less-than-perfect small bus companies. DOT pretends these companies will have a chance to resume operations if they achieve spotless 100% compliance with the rules, but the reality is they will not. DOT will almost always find an excuse to deny these carriers permission to operate.
I reviewed the publicly available information in DOT’s Dockets on Southeastern Tours. This company was mugged by DOT. What happened to them is disgusting, and anyone associated with the mugging should hang their head in shame. According to DOT records, Southeastern has been in business since 1994. They have been audited 6 times during that time, the most recent in August, 2010. They achieved a Satisfactory rating in 2010. The worst that ever happened to Southeastern in all that time, and all those audits, was they paid a $3410 fine in 2003.
It’s possible that Southeastern’s operation went completely to hell between 2010 and 2013. I bet that’s not what happened. My 24 years of experience is guessing here, but I would bet $100,000 Southeastern was in the exact same condition in 2013 as it was in 2010 when it was audited. In 2010, it earned them a Satisfactory rating, with no fines. In 2013, their livelihood was taken from them.
How could this happen? Easy. Under “Death Strike”, DOT auditors dig and dig and dig, citing the most minute violations until they’ve piled up a mountain of minor violations. Voila! “You’re a hazard, Mr. Bus Company! You’re going to kill people! Look at all these violations!” They are simply applying a much different standard than had been applied previously. Again, Southeastern undergoes normal audit in 2010, everything is fine. Death Strike in 2013 = Death. The fact is, many of these Death Strike violations have absolutely no link to safety whatsoever, but that sure as hell doesn’t stop the government. It is absolutely disgusting.
This is what happens when a society has so many rules that no one knows what they all are, or how to possibly comply with them all. At any point in time, citizens are unknowingly breaking some rule. It’s just a matter of time before some government bureaucrat decides to enforce some previously unenforced rule, and boom, a new criminal is arrested.
There is a good quote in the Reason article from former Massachusetts State Police lieutenant, Paul Sullivan, who has extensive experience in the safety-compliance arena. Mr. Sullivan says, “The FMCSA has become much more interested in the publicity that goes with enforcement than with trying to improve the situation. The agency is stretching the intent of the regulation to make critical examples.” Lieutenant, you are 100% correct.
Just as villain Dr. Ferris said, in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”:
“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”