By Clifford F. Lynch
DC Velocity, December 2008
As you may recall, last year I requested three things Ė and for a while, it
appeared that you had come through on one of them. I had asked for $60 to $70
per barrel oil, and in October of this year, we saw the price of crude fall to
$70. What I had not expected, however, was that the entire economy would come
crashing down with it. I guess I should have been a little more specific in my
Also, it appears that someone in your workshop is mathematically challenged.
Although the price of oil has dropped 14.9 percent since I made my request last
year, diesel fuel has risen 16 percent during the same period. Please tell
whichever elf handles pricing that, according to the Department of Energy, crude
oil accounts for 64 percent of the retail price of diesel fuel. If that is true
(would the government lie to us?), the price of diesel should have come down 9.5
My wish for this year is a lengthy one. But I know you donít have much time
to read, so Iím going to limit it to six requests. I hope you can deliver on at
least some of them. SoÖhere goes:
A new name for 3PLs. Iím still hoping we can banish the term "3PL"
(third-party logistics provider) from the supply chain vocabulary. Logistics
outsourcing is about subcontracting logistics activities to firms that are
equipped to provide the services. Besides being numerically inaccurate
(sometimes those "third" parties are really "fourth" parties, logistics
providers that coordinate the services of other subcontractors), the
concepts of third and fourth parties only serve to cloud the relationships.
Letís just call them what they are: logistics service providers, or LSPs.
The term is clear, yet broad enough to cover any type of logistics function.
Fuel price relief. Right now, fuel prices are down, but Iíve noticed
that with each cycle of rising and falling prices, prices drop back to a
higher floor. Please get some of your best elves to work on developing
alternative energy sources. That is the only real solution.
A new air traffic control system. As a sleigh driver yourself, you
are undoubtedly aware of the deficiencies in the nationís antiquated flight
control system. In fact, Iím surprised you havenít had a reindeer work
stoppage. Flights are rarely on time, and according to the Wall Street
Journal, delays cost the airlines $8.1 billion in 2007 Ė not to mention
the safety and passenger inconvenience considerations. Wait until you get a
DC-10 up the tail pipe of that sleigh; then maybe youíll listen to me.
Access for Mexican truckers. Given our president-electís rather
negative views on NAFTA, Iím afraid we may never see Mexican truckers
traveling freely on U.S. highways. I hope you will keep trying to persuade
Congress to honor the agreement their fellow Democrats signed in 1993.
Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. Letís show a little respect!
Respectful treatment of carriers. As the economy continues to
deteriorate, we almost certainly will have overcapacity in transportation
services. Please remind the shippers they will get ashes and switches
instead of toys if they treat the carriers poorly.
Friends in high places. I donít know whether youíre a Republican or a
Democrat, but we are about to have a president and a Congress from the same
party. Hopefully, we will get a secretary of transportation with the
knowledge, experience, and courage to do whatís right for the transportation
system and infrastructure, and a Congress willing to support him or her.
Give Mr. Obama a call. He has two young daughters and needs toys. May you
can work out a deal.
Wishing a very Merry Christmas to you and the family.
P.S. Can you see Alaska from there?