Chestnut Groves

Remember when you or your brother or your father were pulling South Korea’s chestnuts out of the fire almost 60 years ago? Remember what was left behind after the armistice? Right. Rubble.

In sharp contrast to that unfortunate country we were top dog back in those days. Our economy was second to none because we were the queen of the seas – “the gem of the ocean”– and the South Koreans, apparently, were more cognizant of that than we were. They knew that shipbuilding could be the driving force for its economic recovery, and by the mid-70s Hyundai’s first yard was receiving orders.

Today, Hyundai is the world’s largest shipbuilder. Its main yard covers more than 1,200 acres and at any given time there are about two dozen vessels under construction at that yard. Two years ago we reported that Hyundai, at that point, had 260 orders in hand and that “every one of those vessels will be paid for, not by Korean taxpayers, but by shipowners — who get their funds for such purchases from U.S. buyers who are now forced to purchase goods made in overseas manufacturing facilities, because that’s where our shut down manufacturing facilities have been transferred”.

Why are we mentioning Hyundai again? Because that aggressive company is making headlines again, that’s why. Today, August 27th, Hyundai will issue an announcement indicating its intention to bid for controlling interest in Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., the world’s third largest shipbuilder. According to reports, the price is expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $ 8 billion.

You think that’s a lot of money? It isn’t. It’s a steal compared to how the U.S. government spends its money. Instead of buying – or rather, building – shipyards, so we can create employment opportunities and rise from the economic rubble caused by recent administrations, we’re building warships and selling them to – you guessed it – to unwitting U.S. taxpayers who won’t receive one thin dime for their “investment”.

The Deputy Secretary of Defense has just announced that the Navy will complete construction of three DDG-1000 destroyer-type vessels, and the projected cost of these three warships will be ( are you sitting down?) $ 15 billion – almost twice the cost of the third largest shipyard in the world. Now that’s what you’d really call “stealing”.

Certain politicians refer to these navy purchases as being “critical to the workforces” in their tiny, but insignificant, shipyards. Instead of spending hours and hours quibbling with government bean counters about the funding of a few hundred make-work “defense” jobs in their states, these salons should consider the possibility, and the necessity, of generating employment opportunities for the many thousands of their constituents facing a bleak future. These politicians can’t plead ignorance either because we’ve described our patented systems to more than 250 of them.

[We neglected to include political contributions with our correspondences, however.]