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Lionel Mandrake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-24-11 11:21 PM
Original message
Bye-bye, American shipping lines
An article in the Financial Times
By John Gapper
Published: February 23 2011

The two largest US-owned companies, Matson and Horizon Lines, occupy places 30 and 36 on Alphaliners table of container lines. Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping of Switzerland and CMA CGM Group of France are at the top, followed by others from Taiwan, Chile, Singapore, China, Japan, Germany and Korea. The US does better than that at World Cup soccer.

There are few such clear examples of an entire industry being blighted by trade protectionism as the US merchant marine fleet. The 1920 Jones Act, intended to protect US ships and shipping from international competition (or war) has effectively wiped them off the high seas. The US Navy, still the biggest and most powerful fleet in the world, has no substantial commercial counterpart. ...

The UK, which imposed the first of the Navigation Acts to protect its ships from Dutch competition in the 17th century, abolished its equivalent of the Jones Act in 1849. Yet the US still insists that all domestic cargo must be carried in US ships made in US shipyards, crewed by US citizens. As a result, it has a small container fleet that expensively supplies Guam, Alaska and Hawaii. ...

The expense of ferrying containers in Jones Act ships and unloading at strictly-unionised ports means that most non-bulk cargo is now taken by road or rail instead. That has severely weakened the US industry the two biggest US-owned lines, McLeans Sea-Land and American President Lines, were acquired by Maersk and Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore in the 1990s (the US arm of Sea-Land became Horizon).

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onehandle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-24-11 11:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. We're Number Zero! We're Number Zero! We're Number Zero! nt
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DeSwiss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-24-11 11:50 PM
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2. While I hope for a day.....
Edited on Thu Feb-24-11 11:51 PM by DeSwiss
...when Americans, indeed all citizens of this planet have useful and meaningful work. Work that aids, builds and sustains us. Renewable and replenishing work. Work that adds, not just takes away -- the loss of U.S. container ship businesses whose main task is to ply the oceans dropping-off more and more plastic junk to us and elsewhere, plastic junk that will just end up floating in that same sea, well that is little loss to me. Maybe actually a gain. This paradigm we've had going now since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution is spent. It doesn't work. And there's little point trying to blow life back into it's decrepit lungs. Let it die.

- It's time to do something new and stop worrying about losing the old cancerous past that has driven to the point of extinction......

So in FY 2012 the Pentagon will just have to struggle along with $719 billion while the president calls for a five-year freeze on "non-security" discretionary spending such as---in the words of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich --- "programs the poor and working class depend on---assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like."


While the number of Americans suffering in poverty increased to 36 million and more families lose their homes and lines lengthen at soup kitchens, President Obama has dollars galore to build 67 new warships at a cost of nearly $25 billion, according to a new analysis of his budget by the National Priorities Project of Northampton, Mass. Yet, according to Wikipedia, "The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined" and it operates 11 super carriers as part of a 286-active ship fleet with 3,700 aircraft able to radiate power on all continents. This is but one example from the Pentagon's Department of Wretched Excess.

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Lionel Mandrake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-25-11 12:59 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. International trade is here to stay,
and so are containers, which carry most non-bulk items. What has largely disappeared is the US shipping industry.

Containers carry cars, TV sets, computers, appliances, ... you name it. They have taken over because they move goods efficiently on ships, trains, trucks, or any combination thereof.

Plastic trash in the oceans is a serious environmental problem. We need to make sure that plastic items are recycled as much as possible, not carelessly thrown away. Some cities are better than others at promoting recycling. This problem would persist even if international trade were abolished (which it won't be).

You're right about the bloated US "defense" budget, which soaks up money while infrastructure crumbles and poor people suffer.
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EC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-24-11 11:52 PM
Response to Original message
3. Well, if it costs manufacturers more to move product
here, will they start building plants here? Or break the longshoremens unions and change the laws? Well, I wonder? :sarcasm:
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Xicano Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-25-11 02:07 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. They've ALWAYS tried to break our union.
I am a 16yr ILWU longshoreman (local 13) and Harry Bridges indeed created a very strong and very dedicated union.

Here's a video we produced called "Eye of the Storm" I posted to google video: Eye of the Storm

Anyway, if you watch it all you'll see the last union busting hired gun the companies hired and how it went.

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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-24-11 11:53 PM
Response to Original message
4. drove my Chevy to the levy, but the levy was dry.
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-25-11 12:14 AM
Response to Original message
5. Not all of this is accurate.
The reason for using trains rather than ships is speed. From Seattle to New York through the Panama Canal takes three weeks, 5 times as long as by train. Cargo from Yokohama can be in New York in less than 2 weeks using inter-modal. Ports all over the world are Unionized. And it makes no difference what flag the ship is.

The Harbor Pilots in Kaoshiung, Taiwan send their kids to private schools in Switzerland on their pay.

The problem with the US Merchant Marine is the fragmentation and cross purposes of the participants. It is also the result of US transportation policies that waste huge amounts of energy.
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Lionel Mandrake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-25-11 01:13 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Harbor pilots do very well in LA and Long Beach, too.
The problems with the US Merchant Marine are perhaps too complicated for such a brief discussion.

John Gapper sees the 1920 Jones Act as the main problem, and he presents his case persuasively.
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-25-11 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Group Captain,
You are correct on both counts.
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