Lodes of Opportunities

California, according to reports, is in deep financial straits. And so, in fact, are all the other U.S. coastal states. They shouldn’t be, of course, because our highly profitable seaports are located in those coastal states. In our Vol. VIII, Art. 14 commentary, Mr. Wilson Lacy, the Port of Oakland’s Maritime Director, you’ll recall, even referred to container ports as “the gold mines of today.” He may be having second thoughts now though because of the ravages of the “Great Recession”.

That’s what the alibi is anyway – but that isn’t anywhere near the truth. Our container ports are becoming a drain, not because of the foundering economy, but because of mismanagement and plain stupidity.

For example, back in Vol. IV, Art. 15, we discussed the size of the Southern California port complex – the adjoining container ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach. The primitive container handling operations in those two ports are taking up more than 10,000 acres of the most valuable land in the whole world, and not many people have been pleased with the ports’ persistent and costly expansion programs. Instead of being a drain on California’s economy – and the cause of widespread health problems – those thousands of acres should be a source of billions of tax dollars every year to the state. What could be simpler?

– First of all, much of the chaotic operations at the complex should be transferred to other West Coast port locations – as suggested by ex-DOT Secretary Mineta.

– Officials in both ports have been advised that our patented container handling systems would enable them to achieve “… the most efficient, space-saving, timely and cost effective transport of goods to the consumer” – and we’ve made that quite clear in our website.

– Our systems can handle twice the current volumes of these two ports on less than 300 acres.

– Scarce waterfront property – where available – is selling for between 3 million and 5 million dollars per acre.

– At, let’s say, 4 million dollars per acre, the selling price of that freed up 9,500 plus acres would bring in an immediate $ 38,000,000,000 to the state.

– And those now-taxable acres would bring in maybe another 38 billion dollars every year to California’s beleaguered tax collector.

Add it up. That’s a lot of money. In just a few years, the state of California could arrange its own “bailout” – if they’d just take their heads out of the sand.

Then there’s New York, Norfolk, Charleston, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, etc. – all our ports could be “gold mines” again.