“How To Win Friends And Influence People” – Dale Carnegie

Except for the Holy Bible this book was probably the most widely-read book of the 20th Century, and years ago almost every aspiring young salesperson took the time to study it. Some of us even attended the Dale Carnegie Courses, and no one ever felt shortchanged. The words in the title have become a popular figure of speech in our language, and even now those words may be heard being mumbled by someone who has just been slighted in one way or another.

Although the event didn’t get much of a play in U.S. periodicals, much is being written in overseas journals about alleged inappropriate behavior of US Customs & Border Protection personnel during a boarding of a ro-ro vessel in Los Angeles Harbor on September 27th. The international maritime community is directing criticism at U.S. inspectors because a ship operator has once again accused border inspectors of abusing their powers. Based on the report of Captain Ove Overgaard, the Master of Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s “Tampa”, Chairman Wilhelm Wilhelmsen provided a litany of complaints to the media, and when presented with denials by Customs, a Wilhelmsen spokesman affirmed that the Captain’s “description of the situation is accurate”. There’s a standoff in the matter and it’s being said that this won’t be the last occurrence of this kind. It seems that ship captains and U.S. Coast Guard and Customs officials don’t see eye-to-eye in this sort of a confrontation. Too bad Dale Carnegie couldn’t be here to put in his two cents worth. Our guys don’t seem to be winning too many friends for us. We could get a lot more flies with honey.

There’s a much simpler and surer way to settle security matters, and we’ve been touching upon it for the past few weeks. Instead of the guesswork called for by our present system of inspection — something akin to the racial profiling so deeply resented in this country — why not take another look at the method of scanning/inspecting in our patented system? Without exception every container is placed on a conveyor and passed through an electronic scanner before being picked up and stored in a preassigned slot. With a 100% rate of inspection, rather than a 4%, or 5%, or even a 10% rate, there would no longer be a need for boarding parties, strip-searches, or any such allegations of inappropriate behavior. Knowing in advance that every container will be placed under electronic surveillance will deter smugglers as well as terrorists. The cost of these scanning systems is known and the number of these affordable systems required can readily be determined.

On the other hand the cost of increasing the number of vessels and manpower required by the Navy and Coast Guard for interdiction will mean that billions of taxpayer dollars must be appropriated in order to erect a shield of enormous proportions and questionable effectiveness. It is generally known that Lloyd’s Registry tracks approximately 85,000 registered seagoing vessels, and on any given day, about 55,000 of them are at sea. It would be unreasonable, therefore, to think that our Coast Guard and Naval vessels could ride herd on this many ships, and it would be the height of fantasy to think that we could devise a clairvoyant tracking system that would allow our ships to zero in on only those vessels that pose a threat to our security.

This is what the kids would call a “no-brainer”.