If These Wallets Could Talk … (A reprint of Vol. XVIII, Art. 18 – Five years ago today.)
In our most recent commentaries we’ve been complaining about unemployment, the depression, bailout programs and wastefulness. One would almost think that there was some kind of a connection between them. Well there is. Like the relationship between cause and effect.
We’ve been dwelling upon U.S. unemployment and the disastrous failings being felt all the way back along the supply chain to Asian manufacturing sources.
We’ve second-guessed, along with others, the trend toward larger and larger container ships and wondered about their utility in a declining economy.
We’ve criticized, repeatedly, the wasteful use of valuable waterfront acreage for conventionally-structured container ports and the stubborn efforts on the part of port authorities to expand such costly and primitive operations.
We had good reason(s) to be critical. Our patents, first of all, inclined us in that direction, and secondly, the steps being taken by maritime officials and approved by consultants and economists were obviously illogical and wasteful.
From a health standpoint alone, advocating a giant “hub-and-spoke” concept of port operations was, and is, nothing short of criminal. Heart-breaking statistics have been published in the media and are readily available from medical authorities. In addition, the well-publicized heavy concentration of traffic to and from these “king ports” now requires funding for the restructuring of heavily-traveled and badly worn bridges and highways.
Why is it, though, that of all the links in this cause-and-effect chain, authorities are pushing the one that matters the least? The restructuring of what they refer to as “infrastructure”. As we pointed out earlier, why spend billions (which we don’t have) on new highways and bridges when our unemployed citizenry will no longer have the wherewithal to purchase vehicles?
Nothing will happen … nothing … until we provide paychecks to people. That’s the starting point. Without jobs we’re without consumers. Without consumers there’ll be no demand for low-cost products imported from overseas manufacturers. Forget about goods manufactured in the U.S.- we’ve priced ourselves out of every market. But at least the overseas worker and the shipping line will be back in business, right?
No they won’t, and they won’t be until we find a way to employ the erstwhile kingpins – the U.S. unemployed consumers. As we’ve been saying, there’s no other starting point. The only way to free ourselves (and everybody else in the world) from this economic quagmire is to begin the shipbuilding program we’ve been discussing, and to revitalize dozens of our smaller and underutilized ports while we’re at it. While that’s being done, some 50 million Americans would find employment, the supply chain would be reinvigorated, and happy days would be here again.