Fan Mail

We get letters – like this one, for instance. Here’s the gist of it:

“Dear Sir (or Ma’am);

“On February 15, 2011, the Pentagon requested billions and billions of dollars for its 2012 ‘Defense’ budget. But let’s talk about the amount it requested just for building warships.

“To construct just one nuclear carrier ($ 13,515,200,000.00), just one Arleigh Burke class destroyer ($ 2,081,400,000.00), just one Zumwalt class destroyer ($ 6,590,500,000.00), just one Littoral Combat Ship ($ 1,866,300,000.00), just one Virginia class submarine ($ 3,106,900,000.00), just one LPD class Landing Ship ($ 1,696,300,000.00), and for the initial estimated R and D cost of the Amphibious Assault Ship ($ 3,413,400,000.00), the amount requested came to almost $ 32.5 billion.

“The estimated combined cost of those programs, according to the Pentagon’s budget request – not counting cost overruns here and there – would come to more than two hundred forty-four billion dollars. So far.

“Thirty two billion dollars is a lot of money to be spending on ‘defense’ when a lot of Americans are in the unemployment line, and the two hundred forty billion dollars is just way too much …

“You wrote in an earlier commentary that President Obama should do what FDR did in the 1930s to bring the Great Depression to an abrupt end. He (FDR) revitalized more than 100 shipyards for his Emergency Shipbuilding Programs and put millions to work almost overnight …

“You estimated that it would cost $ 100 million to open up ( or revitalize) each shipyard – that’s a total cost of ten billion dollars for the 100 shipyards – and that each shipyard would provide about 15,000 jobs, at about $ 100,000 per employee. So that’s another one hundred fifty billion dollars.

“That still leaves about ninety billion dollars to spend on your patented container ships – the ones that can be ‘punched out like cupcakes’. At a cost of about seventy-five million dollars per vessel, ninety billion dollars would be enough to build about 1,200 of those container ships every year – about one each month at each yard – and our economy would be up and running again …

“Am I the only one doing this math? Can’t you put this information in front of Congress or the Maritime Administration? Furthermore, Title XI and the Jones Act provisions would create job opportunities for millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans.

“You said it yourself – we need jobs – jobs mean paychecks – paychecks mean buyers – buyers create demand – demand brings in supplies – supplies (cargo) requires container ships – and that’s exactly why we need another Emergency Shipbuilding Program. We need to get our show back on the road. You called it the ‘multiplier effect’. Remember?” –