The Deep Dig

As Bob Herbert so correctly stated in his recent column, “What’s really happening, of course, is the same thing that’s been happening in this country for the longest time – the folks at the top are doing fabulously well and they are not interested in the least in spreading the wealth around.”

And we might add that the folks at the top are also not interested in the least in any changes in the status quo. Those folks are all aware of P.T. Barnum’s well-known assessment of the average American: “There’s a sucker born every minute …” he said, and he no doubt was referring to us taxpayers. We’re like the frog in the pot of water. We don’t even know we’re being cooked.

Here’s just one illustration of what Mr. Herbert and Mr. Barnum tried to point out. There are almost 50 million Americans on food stamps and almost 30% of the work force is unemployed. That means that the buying power of U.S. citizens is not what it used to be – to put it mildly.

So if our buying power has been dramatically reduced it stands to reason that our demand for overseas products has correspondingly diminished and when there is no demand, there is no supply. That’s what we learned in Economics 101. But Mr. Barnum – as well as our modern day shills – knew that the average guy and gal would soon forget that simple rule. And that’s why “the folks at the top are doing fabulously well and are not in the least interested in spreading the wealth around.”
And that accounts for the strategy and the rants we’re hearing from U.S. port authorities and from Panama’s infamous Senor Sponge: “Dredge! Dredge! Dredge!”

The Associated Press on February 7th gave us this: “East Coast ports are engaged in their own ‘big dig’ competition, or ‘deep dig’, as the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014 looms ever closer with the promise of much larger containerships making the transit eastward.”

Honest to goodness, that’s what the AP story stated. But the story also stated: “Meanwhile, there is a mad dash for permitting and taxpayer money to dig down for the rest of the field of port players.”

Canadian Business chimed in with this: “With a major expansion of the Panama canal projected to be finished by 2014, these gargantuan vessels will be able to sail between Asia and the East Coast. The canal expansion is pitting seaports up and down the Atlantic coast in a race to dig deeper harbors capable of handling the so-called post-Panamax ships.”

The article quoted one of the ones “born every minute” – a longshoreman – as stating, “If we don’t get the project done, we’re afraid the ships may go to other areas. Our workload depends on the ships coming up the river. If the ships don’t come, we don’t eat.”

Well guess what. Those gargantuan ships won’t be coming because there’s no demand . And although that longshoreman may not be eating as a result, those “folks at the top will be doing fabulously well” because of taxpayer money siphoned off by “the rest of the field of port players.”