Thinking About Ships

The Trump Administration has forced a Chinese company to sell its ownership stake in the Port of Long Beach. This is good, but it got me thinking for a bit about the sad state of America’s merchant marine. Not counting nations like Panama because lots of ships are registered there for tax purposes, the bottom still is that our merchant marine is pathetically small. There are both national security and economic issues at stake here. We need a large merchant fleet because during wartime we’ll instantly need a large number of experienced mariners, as well as a large sea transport capacity. We also need a large merchant fleet because having such gives us the benefit of our control of the seas (right now we keep the sea lanes open for everyone else), maintains a large shipbuilding industry vital for war and, of course, provides a large market for American-made products which go to make up ships.

Our Libertarian friends are going to hate this, but if building up and maintaining a large merchant marine requires protectionism, then that is what we’ll have to do. I’d make it that imports into the USA are taxed at a 25% lower rate if they are carried in American-flagged vessels. 50% lower rate if they are American-built, American-flagged US ships. 75% lower rate if 50% of the crew of that American-built, American-flagged ship is American citizens. I’d make it that all trade ships entering US ports must pass American inspections both as to seaworthiness and the training of the crews (I’m especially interested in the cruise trade here…how many times do we see cruise ships going dead in the water?).

I also believe that if we wanted to, we could build ships of higher quality than any other nation on Earth. Ships that will move faster, be more seaworthy and be cheaper to operate. We are Americans: we can do whatever we want. All we have to do is set our mind to it.

6 thoughts on “Thinking About Ships

  1. Cluster May 9, 2019 / 2:36 pm

    Speaking of ships – the US just seized one:

    Mueller knew exactly what he was doing. To be as vague as possible to leave the issue open for the Congress. Mueller after all is Democrat first, special counsel second.

    “It starts out with there is no suggestion of collusion, whatever. At the end of that discussion, no suggestion of — and yet we read all of these detailed, elaborate footnotes.” Starr said.

    Starr led the wide-ranging investigation into former President Bill Clinton that ultimately resulted in Clinton’s impeachment trial in the late 1990s.

    “There are over 1,000 footnotes. I mean… why? The point of this report is simply to say why I prosecuted or why I didn’t prosecute. This is not a term paper,” he continued.

    • Retired Spook May 9, 2019 / 4:30 pm

      I wish I had more confidence in the GOP to use the material the Dems are providing to paint them as the partisan extremists they are. Maybe they’ll surprise me this time around.

    • M. Noonan May 9, 2019 / 10:10 pm

      The Mueller team paid more than 700 grand for outside investigators and he won’t reveal who they were – which, I bet, means he was using the Steele Dossier people during his investigation. I really want Mueller prosecuted.

      • Amazona May 10, 2019 / 12:09 am

        Well, if the Dems are so hot to put Mueller in front of a Congressional inquisition, that would be a fun question to ask.

        I have been saying for about a year and a half that Mueller saw his appointment as a way to postpone prosecution, for him and his cronies, and maybe to avoid it altogether if he could build enough of a house of cards to convince enough people that going after him/them would amount to obstruction of justice in one way or another.

        That’s what this whole “obstruction of justice” thing has been about, from the get-go—-an effort to build a firewall between the culprits and the new DOJ. That’s what the demonizing of Barr is all about—to create doubt and suspicion of his motives when he does go after the culprits. That’s all it is, and all it ever has been.

        My sense of Mueller is—-and this is pure intuition—-that he was once a good man, but that he stepped over the line a little bit in pursuit of another Dem presidency, then had to take another step to back it up, then another, and all of a sudden he was in the weeds, way over his head and panicked. The appointment was a Godsend, and probably designed to give him some breathing room and control, and the fates of not just him but all his co-conspirators have hinged on what he could do with it, how long he could drag it out, and how much doubt and confusion and paranoia he could generate. By now he has lost his credibility and his honor and any respect he ever had, and I think he is in danger of losing his freedom as well. On one hand he is hoping the complicit House lowlifes will toss him a lifeline, and that he can testify in a way to add to the confusion and innuendo his report has created, but that is a two-edged sword as he might be asked questions that just dig him in deeper—-such as who he hired as “investigators” and why he took it upon himself to elaborate on his role, acting as if it was to judge and not just recommend prosecution if he found evidence to support that.

  2. Retired Spook May 9, 2019 / 4:26 pm

    Not counting nations like Panama because lots of ships are registered there for tax purposes

    I wonder if the same thing applies to trucks. Coming back up Interstate 69 from Muncie, Indiana, after visiting my granddaughter a couple weeks ago it seemed like 2 out of every 3 trucks had an Ontario (Canada) license plate. I live a mile north of U.S. 30 about halfway between Chicago and Columbus, OH, and to describe it as a major truck route would be an understatement. I took my dog to doggie daycare this morning and had to cross 30 going and coming (and not at stop light, unfortunately). The traffic I had to wait for going each way was better than 50% trucks, at least a dozen each way. I frequently take 30 west to Columbia City to go to the grocery, and coming back a couple weeks ago I counted 33 trucks waiting at the light for one of the 3 Columbia City exits. That was unusual, but it’s not uncommon to see anywhere from 10 to 20 at a time. It’s a good sign that commerce is moving. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple thousand trucks go through here every day.

    • Amazona May 10, 2019 / 12:16 am

      Well, you know and I know and thinking people know that our economy depends to a huge extent on trucking, and the combination of rail and trucking. Yet there are people in Congress who want to end trucking. Maybe Republicans should do a quick study of how many trucks are on the road on any given day, and when the subject of this Green New Deal comes up again ask what will replace them.

      BTW, I have also noticed more trucks in my area, as well. I live not far from an interstate and often have to wait for trucks to cross an intersection to get on the highway. I do a lot of interstate driving and now that you bring it up the next time I do that I will do a rough count of the percentage of that traffic is big rigs.

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