We have heard the requests—we have heeded the warnings.
Indeed, many of our elected representatives have braved the bitter tide of populist disfavor in response to the oft-mentioned claim by the leaders of our state: “If we want new industry to come to Alabama, we’ve got to repair our roads and bridges…because if we don’t, the industries will move on to another state.”
So, now that we have passed a fuel tax, now that there is money coming into the state coffers to pretty our roads and strengthen our bridges, can we finally do away with ALDOT’s routine of pulling over our commercial vehicles?
Because stopping trucks loaded with product can’t be all that attractive to outside industry, either.
These instances (they aren’t exactly roadblocks or checkpoints, but they function in a similar way) can most often be seen on Highway 72 in front of Tennessee River Steel in Hollywood, usually in the early to mid-morning. I see them on my drive from Scottsboro to our lumber business in Stevenson, usually on weekdays, with big trucks pulled over and resting uncomfortably atop the trooper’s portable scales.
And the truckers have a terrible look on their faces, as they await the verdict.
“How much will I have to pay?” they seem to be thinking. “Do I make enough to cover the fines? Do the people driving past see me and think there’s something wrong with me, that this embarrassing episode points to an even greater truth, that I’m a failure at life in some way?”
Because there is no doubt that the damage done is financial, as well as emotional. It is embarrassing to be pulled over like this, as we all know.
But I was surprised to learn, during the preparation of this article, that weekdays aren’t the only time ALDOT likes to come out and schmooze (I don’t want to sound too critical) with our industries.
“I see them on Sundays,” said one local bank president who has chosen to remain anonymous.
“Sundays?” was my reply.
“But I thought Sunday was the Lord’s Day,” I said.
“It is,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders. “But things are always changing. Now it must also be ALDOT day.”
Yes, things are always changing.
But what needs to change is ALDOT routinely pulling over commercial vehicles, because it sends a very confusing message—one that, I fear, from the top down (leader to citizen) runs the risk of harming our state psyche.
And the risk is this: that we lose our rationality.
Because it simply isn’t rational for the state of Alabama to claim that we need to raise taxes to attract industries at the same time that (at the least the portion of the state that is made up by ALDOT) is seen doing things that are unattractive to industries.
And boy do we need rationalism right about now.
Thomism, Aristotelianism, natural law—it is what built the west, even if it has fallen from fashion as of late.
But we can recover it here in Alabama, by ceasing to stop our commercial vehicles, now that we have passed a fuel tax.
It will add consistency to our state message, as well as stave off insanity.
All with the added benefit of being attractive to industry.
Along with his father, Allen Keller runs a lumber business in Stevenson. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org