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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Port Security

Talk about your controversies. This news has gotten so much play over the last few days it's hard to know what's right and what's wrong. The extreme left want to make it look like a conspiracy of back door deals involving Bush's cronies. The administration insists the deal won't effect national security. The middle -- including democrats and republicans -- are joining together for completely different reasons. Republican isolationists and democratic anti-industrialists working together to nix the deal.

What's the real truth?

For one thing, there is a bit of cronyism involved.

According to the Wall Street Journal, John Snow, who now overseas the government department that was involved in the ports deal review process, used to head the CSX Corp., from which DP World bought CSX's International Port ops in 2004. Snow left CSX to take the appointment by Bush. In addition, Dave Sanborn, who Bush has recommended for the job of Maritime Administrator, used to be DP World's Europe and Latin American Operations. Is this significant? Not really.

First of all, Peninsular of the UK had been trying to sell their interests in the US ports for awhile. There had been a bidding war going on. Eventually, the highest bidder, DP World, won. It's not likely that any buddy-buddy influence or posturing would create a situation whereby a seller would take anything other than the highest offer. Also, let's not forget how small a fraternity this biz really is. At this level, with these kind of dollars involved, there are only so many companies and so many CEOs and directors. Not many corporations can pony up $6.8 billion for port operations, nor are there many potential maritime executives worth millions in annual salaries. Add to this the fact that a major Ports Op and Stevedore company based in Miami was also bidding on the purchase, which is how this deal made the front page in the first place. When reps from this company realized they lost the deal, they cried foul.

One way to look at this affair is that it's an in house buddy buddy deal, whereby big corporations are making multi-billion dollar deals regardless of the public's interests. On the other hand, DP World is one of the largest maritime business in the world, and where would you go for qualified staffers -- Burger King???

No doubt politics is all about buddies patting themselves on the back and giving each other attaboys, no matter who's in charge. The hard part is having to listen to knee-jerk Democratic opportunists like Schumer, Pelosi and Kerry growling like a pack of hungry dogs. Pelosi, in particular, is so incredibly ill suited to comment on this issue, it's a wonder anybody takes her seriously. How can legislators who've never actually owned a business or operated in a corporate environment know anything about real world business operations?

Meanwhile, the best one can say about this deal is it's either the best thing that could happen or the worst thing. In other words, if we let them in here, with as many westerners as there are already at top positions at DP World, then we have an interest there and they have an interest here. Things are such that what damages us damages them and what damages them damages us. If you ask me, that's a recipe for cooperation and not mutual destruction. Also, look at where Dubai is on the map. It's right next to Iran. It even looks like a damn toe hold. But hey, I'm a Globalist. Like Isaac Asimov was. I believe the future of this planet depends on the interconnection of businesses and economies. I believe in a What-Hurts-Us-Hurts-Them and vice versa global community.

On the other hand, if you like speculating about conspiracies, you might ask what happens when Al Qaeda or whomever get that one guy, that Manchurian Candidate, that Timothy McVeigh? Truth is, if this is the case, there's nothing you can do about.


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