Why Can’t We Get Rid of This Arcane Boondoggle after 97 Years of Folly?

“This maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organization I have run up against in my political career.” — Sen. John McCain

I have a bizarre story to share that occurred earlier this year when I was a speaker on a Forbes magazine cruise.

On its way to New Orleans, the boat traveled through several Caribbean islands and then made a stop in Key West on its way to New Orleans, where Steve Forbes, the keynote speaker, was to be picked up. But Mr. Forbes wasn’t allowed to board the cruise ship in Key West, so he had to give his talk offshore to his followers.

Another strange story is that my long-time friend and professor extraordinaire Ken Schoolland and his wife Li wanted to ship their car from their home in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Shanghai, China, to have transportation during a series of conferences they were planning in China. But they could not ship their car directly from Hawaii to Shanghai, and had to ship it to Los Angeles first, and then to Shanghai at a cost of $3,035.

In fact, many American ships return empty on their way back to the United States, and vice versa. In addition, many foreign-owned cargo ships return empty on their way back to China.

There’s more: A Japanese pulp mill finds it cheaper for the mill to send its product from Alaska to Seattle via Japan than from Alaska to Seattle directly. Recently, the mill shut down.

Big Island ranches in Hawaii charter a weekly 747 out of Kona International Airport to get their cattle to the mainland rather than transfer them via normal shipping.

The cost of shipping a 20-foot container from the East Coast of the United States to Puerto Rico is approximately $3,063, whereas the same shipment costs just $1,504 to nearby Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and $1,687 to Kingston (Jamaica).

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