Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 02/11/2007 - 15:15.

Until I stood by the trackside to take the photo above, it really hadn’t dawned on me what was going on…what was going on in the big picture


Right after I pushed the shutter button, the 4 locomotives squealed past me east down the grade into Palm Springs with their dynamic braking reving their engines and their wheel brakes spewing out a smelly haze of hot brake lining fumes.  Then the double loaded intermodal container cars began coming by.  There was at least a mile of them.  Hundreds of 40’ and 52’ containers.  I thought about what might be in the containers, and that’s when it struck me! 


            NOTHING IN THE CONTAINERS WAS MADE IN THE USA!   The train originated out of the Port of Los Angeles/Port of Long Beach.  These Southern California ports handle 40% - yes almost half  (including both east coast ports and west coast ports) - of all the cargo imported into the USA .  Just the fact that the containers where on this train,  confirmed that each container carried goods made in another country.  And with our balance of trade with  China running at 65 billion a month, it was probably a good guess that the containers had merchandise from China. 


I captioned this post with the Trojan Horse analogy not because of xenophobia or dislike of foreign trade,  but because the skills and organization necessary to make the goods inside those containers is being lost in the USA.  We are comfortably importing our way into a sort of manufacturing dark age.   And I don’t see our educational system or economic system developing  a comparable number of  jobs in non-manufacturing areas.  Our gluttony for easy goods is  anesthetizing  our national  ability to do the daily nuts and bolts tasks that   our nation did 50 years ago.  We are now importing both  non essential goods – like foreign foods, specialty fabrics, ornamental items – and we are importing essential goods – machine tools, cars, boats, all clothing, wind turbines, steel, plastic pipe, etc etc.   Each container puts the US in a weaker and weaker position as we lose our trade skills and our ability to compete.


Both CSX and  BNSF  (who runs the old Union Pacific locos) have dual transcontinental rail lines now.  Because the amount of rail traffic is at capacity – trains come by every 20 minutes or so - each carrier is studying plans to add a second set of tracks – resulting in 2 tracks west bound and 2 east bound.   How will the US and NEO help fill all those empty cars returning to the Ports with goods manufactured in the USA?

Union Pacific engines pull containers out of Long Beach.JPG62.45 KB