I was heading down to Toronto Wednesday, driving, to speak at Interquest (more on that in a follow-up post) and I noticed… trucks. Tons of trucks.
Three quarters of the traffic going down to Toronto was trucks. Mostly I noticed the livestock trucks because… well because they stink. Nothing like following a truck full of pigs for a few kilometers to induce you to break the speed limit.
Coming back yesterday it was the same thing. Tons of trucks, and among them bunches of trucks full of pigs that I had to pass to get away from the smell.
Wait a minute. There are dozens of trucks bringing pigs from Quebec to Ontario, why the hell are there the same number of trucks bringing pigs from Ontario to Quebec??!? And it’s not just pigs, obviously, but cattle, chickens all kinds of products too, I’m sure.
I got to thinking “How many of these trucks contain same or similar merchandise being trucked simultaneously from Toronto to Montreal and from Montreal to Toronto? Why aren’t they using the train? Why aren’t they buying and selling locally? How does it make sense to truck the same stuff 500 km in one direction and simultaneously 500 km in the other direction?
The answer, of course, is a free economy. If I raise pigs I can sell them to whoever I want, whoever will pay me the most for my pigs. And, of course, I would be an idiot to sell locally for less money than to sell for more money, even if I have to ship them to Chibougamau… but how is it economical? Doesn’t shipping figure in there at some point?
A 5 hour drive has got to cost something more than a 45 minute drive, surely, and even that should cost more than putting it on a train wagon, considering the high efficiency of rail. Can someone with some experience in shipping or trucking enlighten me? I can’t seem to work this out.
I am the last person in the world to be a proponent of more government involvement in anything, but couldn’t there be someone, if not in the government then maybe in the private sector to say “Hey, dummy, sell your pigs to the processing center that’s 20 minutes away from you, instead of the one that’s 580km away in Ontario!” They can get their pigs from you instead of from Ontario.
I’ll just add this to the list of things we do that lack any kind of common sense, like tax incentives for banks, or claiming that free universal education is unaffordable, when it would really only cost about 800M a year.
If you know why this is happening, help me out here…
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