“… the face that launch’d a thousand ships …” (Vol. XV, Art. 29 again. It bears repeating.)

Doug Tsuruoka at Investor’s Business Daily tells us that, “Maritime figures show there are about 9,000 ships under construction worldwide – more than at anytime in history”.

In her heyday, even the beautiful face of Helen of Troy couldn’t match that kind of production.

Neither can U.S. shipbuilders. All we build in this country are tugboats, offshore service vessels, ferries and barges. Well, yes, we are building an enormous navy – the way Helen did – but that’s just for war-making, not money-making. So that really doesn’t count. It didn’t count for Helen either. Troy is just a memory. Let’s not share that fate.

We’re building warships and we’re going broke. Other shipbuilding nations build commercial vessels – especially container ships – and their economies are booming.

– In less than 50 years, shipbuilding took South Korea from rags (and rubble) to riches;
– China has already declared its intention to replace South Korea as the world’s leading shipbuilder by the year 2010, and already operates 150 shipyards;
– India’s publicized shipbuilding program assures its position as a future challenger to these world leaders.

Meanwhile, we’re concentrating all our resources in a futile effort to confront “terrorism”, and we’re not making any money at it. In fact, it’s costing us a bundle and it will continue to do so as long as we continue to swallow the “stay the course” baloney we’ve been fed.

Last month, Louisiana’s newly-elected Governor Bobby Jindal and his Economic Development Secretary Steve Moret announced that one of the state’s small shipyards would be granted $ 10 million to expand its operations. The $ 10 million investment will bring 1,000 new jobs with an average salary of $ 54,000, officials estimate. Not bad.

If a $ 10 million investment creates 1,000 new jobs in the shipbuilding industry, how many new jobs would be created if the $ 50.5 billion Department of Homeland Security 2009 budget were directed to the restoration of our now-defunct shipbuilding industry? 5,050,000 jobs, that’s how many.

The taxpayers would love the idea. So would vote-seeking congressmen. We’d now have a darling DHS rather than a snarling DHS. Generous lawmakers and grateful taxpayers would seek a tenfold increase in the department’s annual budget. And why not? 50 million new jobs a year over the next few years would put US back on top again.

Sound like a dream? Yes it does, but it’s the only dream that has any chance at all of coming true because it’s not an impossible dream. We were forced down that road during our last real national emergency – our World War II days. Been there, done that, because we had no other choice back then. We have no other choice today either.