Fleecing Thoughts (A reprint of Vol. XXII, Art. 39 … Four years ago today – March 31st, 2010)

A week ago we saw this headline in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Tioga terminal lands weekly Puerto Rican contract”… and the story went on to say; “Sea Star Line L.L.C., of Jacksonville, Fla., wants to expand and bring products, including pharmaceuticals manufactured in Puerto Rico, to the Northeastern United States …

“Sea Star’s 792-foot El Faro will arrive Fridays at Tioga …

“The business is expected to create 60 to 70 jobs for longshoremen …

“The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority has estimated 191 direct jobs will result from the weekly service …

“Like the airline industry, ports have felt the squeeze of the economic downturn. Last year, total cargo at the Philadelphia port was down 18 percent … ”

792 feet long, huh? And even before the ” $ 300 million” dredging project gets underway! Well, if the USS JFK, the SS United States (The “Big U”) and the USS New Jersey all made the trip up the Delaware without mishap – then what’s all this nonsense about “Dredging = Jobs”?

It would be more appropriate to say, “Dredging = Taxpayer Ripoffs”. In our Vol. XII, Art. 21 commentary we said that, “The price being ‘confirmed’ was still being quoted in the press release as ‘ $ 300 million’, but as most people know, that figure isn’t anywhere near what the true cost of such a project would be. We’re not accusing anyone of telling deliberate falsehoods … we prefer to think that they ‘don’t know what they’re talking about’ … but whatever the reason, there’s no excuse for that kind of ignorance. Here’s what the job seekers should have been told:

– Five feet of sludge dredged from a channel more than 100 miles in length, with a reasonable width of 1300 feet, would require a disposal area of about 85,000 acres. This volume of sludge and slime would cover an area equal in size to the 19,000 acre Island of Manhattan to a depth of approximately four-and-a-half feet.
– The cost to transport and spread this volume of spoil over widely scattered Pennsylvania communities would exceed the cost dredging operations.
– In a project already underway, the Port Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers will be dredging New York’s much shorter channels, night and day, seven days a week, through the next decade … and are committed to a $ 2.25 billion cost.
– Ship owners would never permit ‘megaships’ to stray 100 miles from the sea lanes.”

Simply put – when buyers demand goods, appropriately sized ships will deliver those goods. Without jobs, however, there are few buyers, limited demands for goods, and smaller ships making deliveries. It follows, therefore, that the dredging proposal is just another way of fleecing the sheep.