National Links: 1980’s Trucking Law that Led to Big Box Stores

very day at The Overhead Wire we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.


Photo: Nati Harnik/AP

The 1980 law that led to big box stores: The Motor Carrier Act of 1980, passed by President Jimmy Carter, slashed the cost of moving goods by truck, reducing the pay of millions of truck drivers by 50% and essentially created big-box retail. The law deregulated the trucking industry in hope to get rid of red tape and force competition, thus reducing good prices that big box and online retailers thrive on. But ultimately it has led to lower wages for truck drivers and a consolidation of retail competition. (Rachel Premak | Business Insider)

Will the pandemic alter urbanism? The great debate of whether coronavirus will alter urban living and to what extent has been a constant since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite evidence of density’s minimal role and the blame being on crowding, the debate of the future of urbanism continues. Cities are less car-centric, remote work has spread to stay, and planners are aiming for better racial justice. (James Brasuell | Planetizen)

Where will America’s remote workers live? If workers are no longer attached to cities and urban centers following an increased business lenience for remote work and teleworking, where will they opt to live? Since it is possible for some to work from anywhere now, where will people stay if they can live anywhere? Proximity to family and personal finances is likely dominate the decision. Other determinants are climate, reliable internet, open space and more. (Bonnie Kristian | The Week)

Changing the narrative around housing: Research suggests that supporting housing justice policies is imperative in combating the housing crisis. But to look deeper into how housing justice could be advanced nationwide, several groups dove into housing narratives and framing that resonated with people. What they found was that values resonate more than problems and policy solutions; for example the idea of ‘affordability’ frames housing as a commodity while housing as a human need resonates with people on a more human level. (Miriam Axel-Lute | Shelterforce)

Dutch city changes green footprint for climate adaption strategy: To combat the effects of climate change, the Dutch city of Arnhem has put together a 10 year plan that will remake the city in order to respond to more extreme weather events like intense rainfall and heat. Adaptive measures include replacing 10% of the asphalt in the city with grass for heat control and rainwater retention, building more shade in shopping districts, and planting trees to create “cooling down” spots. (Daniel Boffey | The Guardian)

Quote of the Week

“Everybody’s for equity, until they’re against it. Everybody’s for fairness, until they find out everybody won’t get what they want.”

Harris County TX commissioner Rodney Ellis discussing the implementation of an equity metric on how flood control money is spent in Houston in the New York Times.

This week on the podcast, University of Michigan assistant professor Rob Goodspeed joins us to talk about Scenario Planning for Cities and Regions.

2 thoughts on “National Links: 1980’s Trucking Law that Led to Big Box Stores

  1. Sheldon Gitis

    Not only did Jimmy Carter’s deregulation subsidize big box retail, it significantly diminished the qualifications and skill of truck drivers. I remember when the semi drivers were the cool heads on the road, the top notch professional drivers. Now you see idiots driving semis the same way you see idiots driving passenger vehicles, tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, speeding, dicking around with electronic gadgetry and all the rest. Crashes involving semis are a daily occurrence on the Twin Cities highways, including one idiot who ran right over the car in front of him while he was shopping for houses on Zillow.

    Thank you Jimmy Carter.

  2. Monte Castleman

    With anti-growth policies driving up the price of houses in the metro, one limit to people responding by living hours out of town to be able to afford a nicer house, or a house instead of a condo, or a house in an area with lower crime and better schools, is the prospect of a two hour commute. Now with teleworking that check is gone. Living two or three hours away becomes more attractive if you only have to drive in occasionally for a meeting or company picnic instead of every day. There was an article in the Strib about how the lake home market for homes still in a drive-able distance from the metro is going absolutely bonkers.

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