The real worries

Nov. 30, 2010
“You can’t handle the truth.” –from the movie A Few Good Men It’s funny how one can lose focus on the really important issues of the day, sitting at the computer as I do, sifting through all manner of transportation issues, prattling on about traffic ...

You can’t handle the truth.” –from the movie A Few Good Men

It’s funny how one can lose focus on the really important issues of the day, sitting at the computer as I do, sifting through all manner of transportation issues, prattling on about traffic congestion, freight volumes, etc.

Take the recent WikiLeaks release of some 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, including 15,000 or so classified as “secret.” Beyond the very valid concerns that U.S. diplomatic correspondence of this sort could be so severely compromised in such a far-reaching manner, what these cables reveal about the international dialog about Iran is truly frightening.

For when you have the leaders of Middle East nations such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt (along with others) actually encouraging the U.S. to take out potential Iranian nuclear weapon manufacturing sites, you suddenly realize just how bad things are getting in the world today.

[Global intelligence firm Stratfor put together a nice video summation of what the cables mean in terms of the worries about Iranian nuclear weapon aspirations.]

Conservative columnist Bob Frum noted in a recent opinion piece for CNN that the WikiLeaks “cable dump” also shows that Iran’s effort to gain nuclear weapons scares a whole lot of people – people who nominally should be on the Iranian “side,” so to speak.

And don’t forget for a minute that these diplomatic fears involves a network of nations that provides much of the oil consumed by the world at large – and that Iran is using the monies it gains from oil sales to fund its nuclear ambitions.

Furthermore, any action – military or otherwise – in the Middle East against Iran would no doubt cause oil prices to spike sharply, potentially creating another economic nightmare for the U.S. and the world at large similar to what occurred in the summer of 2008.

And speaking of economics, let’s also not forget that the U.S. is dead broke. We are $15 trillion in the hole now and the red ink is rising now at an enormously fast pace.

Not surprisingly, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s plan to slash spending and raise taxes to get the U.S. back on the road to solvency is being greeted with a negative hue and cry from all sides.

The commission’s co chairman – Alan Simpson, former Republican senator for Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton – also realize their draft plan for rescuing the U.S. for the fiscal mess it’s in faces a dubious future, with both noting they aren’t sure they can get a commission majority (14 out of 18 members) to back it.

[Here are some further comments from Simpson on the reaction to the draft deficit reduction plan -- some them quite funny.]

One thing is for certain, however: the deficit will be dealt with, either from within the U.S. or from without in the form of fiscal pressure from its debt holders. By the way, China is one of the U.S.’s biggest creditors – chew on THAT bon mot for a moment. If that doesn’t give one pause, I don’t know what does.

[It’s also interesting to note that the deficit commission calls for a fuel tax increase by 15 cents per gallon – watch some insight on this from the Associated General Contractors of America.]

Indeed, all of these concerns – from the diplomatic crisis brewing over Iran’s attempt to build nuclear weapons to the specter of U.S. fiscal ruin unless it deals with the obese federal deficit – cast a long dark shadow over the trucking industry; one that can impact business strategy in some many unexpected ways.

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