Bureaucracy, Environmental Extremism, & Labor Costs Are Rapidly Destroying American Competitiveness

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The Port of Charleston

“… America changed from a nation that celebrated getting things done to one that celebrates people and groups who prevent things from being done.” ~ George Will

George Will, a syndicated writer for the Washington Post, addressed the new America in an article today, Running Competitiveness Aground,” which I’ve paraphrased here. The article focuses on the fact that a port enlarged by five feet will seriously damage our ability to compete in the globalized world.

We cannot compete, despite our new found zeal for exports, because we cannot get things done. There are the environmental studies, labor costs, and nearly insurmountable bureaucratic regulations that stand in the way of any progress.

Containerization makes globalization work by moving commodities quickly over long distances. The port of Charleston, S.C., the 4th largest on the East Coast, is 45 feet deep but the world’s ships will be too large to pass through the canal within the next two years. An enlarging of this canal, according to Jim Newsome, CEO of S.C. Ports Authority, will be “the biggest game changer in the history of containerization.”

None of the SE ports are 50 feet deep and the harbor in Charleston will be the cheapest to deepen to 50 feet. The money would be quickly recouped by the net benefits.

The studies for deepening Savannah’s harbor were first made in 1999. As of 2012, the environmental studies have not been completed. When and if they are completed, the project will take another five years.”But before that, says Newsome laconically, “they’re going to be sued by groups concerned about the environmental impact.”

Newsome says that because of labor costs, America has essentially no deep-sea shipping industry. (Editor’s note – thank the unions for this). This is one facet of the deindustrialization of our nation.

Newsome praises the Army Corps of of Engineers and knows it must comply with the ever-thickening layers of laws.

As George Will says, “The Empire State Building was built in 14 months during the Depression, the Pentagon in 16 in wartime. Is it necessary to take eight years – just two years less than it took to build the Panama Canal with yellow fever and without computers – to ddepen this harbor five feet?” Read more: George F. Will

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