For Texas trucker Jim Beddoe, deregulation means he doesn't have to take the backroads from Dallas to San Francisco anymore.

A number of years ago, before most federal trucking regulations were lifted in July of 1980, Beddoe was forced to pay money "under the table" to get his loads, because he had no Interstate Commerce Commission "rights" to haul goods.

To avoid getting caught with his illegal cargo, he had to avoid heavily traveled roads between Texas and California.

In those days, the only way an independent operator could haul regulated goods on many routes was to break the law.

"Deregulation gave me a right to go in legally and compete against the big guys; why shouldn't it be this way?" Beddoe said in a telephone interview from Fort Worth. "I'm real pleased they finally woke up and put this thing on a competitive basis instead of letting the chosen few have all the legal authority to haul goods."

While many large trucking firms are finding it difficult to cope with the combined effects of deregulation and the recession, Beddoe said his business has never been better. Business is so good, he claimed, that an independent trucker who works hard can gross over $100,000 a year.

Large trucking companies claim new small operators are forcing rates to drop below profitable levels, but Beddoe said one of the biggest trucking lines in the West is trying to steal his business by offering substantial discounts.

Beddoe said he loves the freedom that goes along with being an independent trucker and has no desire to work for a large truck lines. He is convinced that deregulation has given many small truckers a chance to make an income on their own that they never could have made working for a big firm.

"The big guys are out there screaming now since they were grabbing all the gravy before. Now we independent truckers are out there legally grabbing a piece of the action for ourselves too. The real reason they're screaming is that they've had a monopoly jerked right out from under them."