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What I say is not intended as any reflection on any of the representatives or members of the Interstate Commerce Commission, because I know many of them personally, and remarks are directed at the legislation as distinguished from personnel and personalities.
In my opinion, only one point was made by Mr. Perrin in favor of the bill, and it is the allegation that it would simplify regulation. In fact, if I remember the exact words, they were to the effect that the basic reason is to unify the rules.
As I understand the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard would still have jurisdiction over_tank vessels and tugboats towing tank vessels. Therefore, if the Interstate Commerce Commission also had jurisdiction over the same towboats which tow the dangerous articles, we would have an overlapping of authority between the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Coast Guard on the same, identical vessel at the same time.
If any uniformity would be needed, it would seem to me that it could very simply be accomplished by having a conference between the Coast Guard, on the one hand, and the Interstate Commerce Commission on the other, and it would appear to me that those differences, if any exist, could be simplified in that manner without the complete change that is proposed by this bill.
This desire for uniformity, incidentally, could also result in a desire to have a complete uniformity in regulating all transportation. In other words, a desire for uniformity could also mean that there would be a desire to have complete uniform regulation of all transportation, including ultimately rate and permit and certificate of public convenience and necessity regulations on petroleum and petroleum products.
Now, I heard a comment made about the fact that sulfur was not considered as coming under the rules. I have before me the United States Coast Guard rules for dangerous articles; and on page N-187 there is described therein the term inflammable solids."
Then the reference is made to the description of an inflammable solid, on page N-168.
An inflammable solid is described asa solid substance other than one classified as an explosive which is liable, under conditions incident to transportation, to cause fires through friction, through absorption of moisture, or through spontaneous chemical changes.
Now, in my capacity as the operating head for the Port Commission of the Port of New Orleans for a period of some 10 years, I supervised the handling of sulfur aboard vessels, and I have personally handled the extinguishing of fires on ships loading sulfur when those fires were caused by the friction of the sulfur striking metal.
Now, I merely cite that to show that sulfur comes under the rules, and that the Interstate Commerce Commision proposes to take over these rules, and therefore the Interstate Commerce Commission would have jurisdiction over the transportation of bulk sulfur, as was specified by Mr. Thompson.
In my opinion, the paramount issue involved here is; Is this bill necessary for the protection of human life?
Now, I know that your committee is thinking principally of the economic aspects, but there is the most important factor involved
the protection of human life. And if we analyze that question, we find that today the United States Coast Guard stands with a wealth of experience gained in the saving of life at sea.
When a vessel at sea is in trouble, the first institution that the master of that vessel thinks of is the United States Coast Guard, whether he has a fire, an explosion, or any other type of casualty.
The incidents of heroism on the part of the Coast Guard both in war and peace would fill a bookcase.
If this bill were passed, it would mean that Congress would say to the Coast Guard : You must go, or continue to go, to the assistance of any vessel that is in trouble. You must handle fires and explosions. But you cannot utilize the experience which you have gained in the handling of that situation to establish regulations which would prevent a recurrence of a similar character.'
This bill can only produce confusion and overlapping of jurisdiction and, insofar as the economic aspects of that situation are concerned, I can tell you from experience that overlapping of jurisdiction costs money. More expenses mean higher freight rates; and higher freight rates will affect every businesman in the United States.
Mr. FORISTEL. Mr. Stiegler, you expressed apprehension about a complete regulation of transportation by the ICC. Is that just your opinion, or do you have any foundation for anticipating it?
Mr. STIEGLER. Yes, sir; I do have a foundation. On page 1 of the Morgan report, identified as “Ex parte No. 165,” there is the following recommendation made:
That section 303 (d) should be canceled, thereby subjecting the exempt transportation to regulation, subject to the terms of the administrative vocational exemption provided in section 303 (e) as amended.
In other words, as I read this recommendtaion, an official document of the Commission, it means that if that were adopted there would no longer be any exemption of the transportation of petroleum products, except insofar as the Interstate Commerce Commission would issue certain specific exemptions which would cover transportation that was not competitive with other forms of carriage.
Mr. FORISTEL, Mr. Perrin, do you want to cornment on that, sir?
Mr. FORISTEL. What is the date of that report? Will you further identify it, if you can ?
Mr. STIEGLER. It is identified as “Ex parte No. 165," and it is dated November 1, 1946.
Mr. PERRIN. I think it ought to be stated in the record here that this original bill which is under complaint here was introduced about 2 years ago, prior to that report of the Commission.
Mr. FORISTEL. This bill has been reintroduced ?
Mr. PERRIN. That is right. It was introduced in the Seventy-ninth Congress.
Mr. FORISTEL. But this same bill has been introduced before this session?
Mr. PERRIN. That is what I mean. It was introduced in the Seventyninth Congress.
Mr. HILL. This is the bill we are talking about. We have enough trouble keeping track of the bills introduced in 1947.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Stiegler.
Mr. FORISTEL. I would like to call at this time Mr. Harry Jordan, who is a typical independent water carrier.
Mr. HILL (presiding). Will you state your name and official position for the reporter?
Mr. JORDAN. I am Harry B. Jordan, vice president, Canal Barge Co., New Orleans.
Mr. FORISTEL. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Mr. JORDAN. I do.
Mr. FORISTEL. Go ahead, Mr. Jordan. TESTIMONY OF HARRY B. JORDAN, VICE PRESIDENT, CANAL BARGE
CO., NEW ORLEANS, LA. Mr. JORDAN. Gentlemen, my approach to this subject may be a little different from information given in the testimony which has gone before. Some of my apprehension on the surface may not seem justified, if considered solely as the bill, S. 1141, is now written. We have come to believe and understand that the Interstate Commerce Commission is determined to completely regulate all types of bulk carriers. It is our sincere belief that with just a few words added to S. 1141, complete regulation could be brought about. We know that complete regulation of small-bulk carriers would mean destruction to many of this type of bulk carrier. We do not believe that the Interstate Commerce Commission is familiar with the problems which confront small-bulk carriers. Their experience has not given them an understanding of these problems. They are not particularly concerned about what happens to bulk carriers from an economic standpoint, provided they can get control of this branch of the transportation industry in order to extend their jurisdiction and control. To a large extent those they do control are in financial difficulty and it is my belief that these financial problems are, in a large measure, the result of too much regulation. To bear out this point, recently a reprsentative of the Interstate Commerce Commission made the statement that it was a shame to permit the bulk carriers to make a profit in transportation when practically all other forms of transportation were losing money. If this party had given this subject a little thought, he might have arrived at the same conclusion at which I have arrived; that is, that complete regulation possibly has a great deal to do with the fact that the other forms of transportation cannot show a profit. What I have said in this connection is the belief not only of the bulk carriers represented in this room, but also the belief of small-bulk carriers in general. I know this from my daily contacts with these small-bulk carriers, and I know of their struggle to keep this industry going. The men who are here today are men who have to meet pay rolls, and know all of the problems in connection with this very important phase of our national economy. To introduce any adverse condition will affect us all very greatly. There are three small companies represented here today who formerly held certificates, either common or contract carrier, from the Interstate Commerce Commission. Operating under the Commission was
so complicated, intricate, and expensive that they found it necessary to cancel their certificates to eliminate the excessive cost of nonproductive clerical work.
Gentlemen, this is just one of the reasons why we are worried about the possibility of complete regulation. Those of us in the industry believe that "those governed the least are the best governed.” This should not be forgotten. Small businesses, such as represented in this room, cannot afford to be forced to come to Washington repeatedly to fight various types of vicious legislation. It seems to us all these bureaucrats do is sit back in their easy chairs in their comfortable position in Washington, and try to dream up schemes to harass and harness industry, solely for purposes of their own personal advancement. Their reason certainly cannot be that of doing the best for industry. In most cases, it is our opinion these men are theorists and not practical businessmen. I know that an educated person without any practical experience is in most cases very dangerous. I heard a man of this type make a talk on transportation at the API convention in Chicago last week. He had convinced himself that unless bulk carriers were regulated they would wind up in Government ownership. I do not know what type of reasoning he used to arrive at this point. His theory was that the only way those of us who are not regulated can avoid Government ownership would be to accept regulation. In other words, get ourselves tied hand and foot so we cannot move in any direction to protect ourselves from these bureaucrats and that gives us security from Government ownership. And this in America.
This country did not grow rich and strong by tactics of this kind. This country was built on free enterprise and will continue to be a great Nation only so long as we have free enterprise. I want to tell you about that-if you will leave it to the bureaus in Washington, free enterprise will not live long. They will so hamstring this country we will start suffering from strangulation very soon, if we have not already started in that direction. If these theorists can force regulation upon our industry, they will not be concerned in the least whether we sink or swim. They will have accomplished their purpose of more bureaucratic control with resulting increases in salary, personal prestige, and power. This is the reason we have asked the Select Committee on Small Business to find some way to assist us in Washington, to stop this evergrowing bureaucratic cancer on the economy of this great Nation, which is constantly placing a terrific tax burden on small business.
If these people are successful in regulating transportation completely this will certainly give heart to other bureaucrats who will want to control other phases of our economy. Where will it stop if they are given their way? I predict that if they are not stopped, eventually you will not be able to build a service station or a grocery store without their permission.
To think that our rising generation does not have the same opportunity to go into business and succeed as their fathers had is a terrible heritage to hand down to this generation and those who will follow.
As I have said before, very few of these bureaucrats know anything of the problems of meeting a pay roll, nor do they know what it means to make a loan at a bank and then try to make enough money to pay the loan. They do not realize or know what small business
has meant to the growth of this Nation. Small business is the backbone of this Nation, always has been and always will be. All the big businesses in this country were once small businesses, and every little fellow wants the right to grow as big as his ability and individual initiative will permit. This is possible only under our free-enterprise system. In spite of these truths, are we to be legislated and regulated out of business!
We have a large group of practical businessmen here today who are fighting for their very existence right now. We are in a type of business where if such complete regulation should come, our situation would be made intolerable. It will increase the cost of handling all bulk products and this increase, in most cases, increases the cost to the consumer. The bureaucrats in Washington are not interested in this at all.
These bureaucrats sit complacently in their nice offices in Washington thinking they know all the answers. If they would get out and mingle with the people who make the economy of our Nation, they would find out some of the real answers, I am sure. Very often I have written letters from my office to men in my organization on various subjects, only to find when I go into the field to contact the problems first hand that my office viewpoint was wrong. I do not believe it is possible for any bureaucrat to sit in Washington and form very many correct theories in relation to the business world. I am very closely associated with my business—this is natural since our business is small—and I cannot sit in my office and form opinions as to what can be done on the firing lines. If I cannot do it in my business, how can a bureaucrat in Washington do this who never sees one of the businesses first-hand ? Still, there are bureaucrats in Washington who do not know a barge from a boxcar, and who sit there trying to tell us what is best for our existence and our industry. These people are so wrong that it is necessary, in my opinion, that Congress put some brakes on them.
Under S. 1141, the Commission would take over some of the duties now being performed by the Coast Guard. The men in the Coast Guard are experienced in the boat business. Gentlemen, you cannot be in the boat business long unless you are an expert because if you are not an expert, the door is wide open for your exit. There isn't any novice who can sit on the side lines and tell a boat operator or a ship operator how to operate. This is a highly specialized business, Therefore, it is fitting that supervision such as we now have, and should have, should continue to come under the Coast Guard, and we should not have any additional overlapping of governmental controls at increased expense to the taxpayer. Those of us who pay the taxes are of the opinion it is about time we tried to reduce the cost of government rather than increase it.
Many of the bureaus seem to think their most important function is to see how much money they can spend rather than to see how much money they can save We think, in the interest of economy and safety, we should continue to have the Coast Guard supervise the handling of bulk commodities comprising so-called dangerous cargo.
The Interstate Commerce Commission wants complete regulation of bulk carriers and this is no mistaken idea. We may as well put the cards on the table and discuss the thing from the angle from which the bureaucrats are thinking.