them Grace Line, United Fruit Co.,nWeyerhauser S.S. Co., PrudentialnLine, Lockheed Shipbuilding Co., andnGeneral Dynamics).nShip operation has proven to be anmarked casualty of the decline in thenmerchant marine. Competition fromnforeign lines and other forms of internalntransportation have resulted in thendemise of most of the old-line companies.nIn the past ten years, more thann60,000 seagoing jobs have vanished,nand about 35,O0O jobs in shipbuildingnwere also lost in this same period. If thenpresent rate of loss continues, anothern35,000 will go by the board in the 90’s.nThe disruption to our economy hasnbeen enormous, especially when wenconsider the loss to widely dispersednmachinery and equipment manufacturers.nNot to be forgotten either is thenserious loss of skills when workmennabandon so precarious a trade.nPorts of the United States are facingna leveling or loss of revenue. This is anresult of severe competition amongnthemselves, overbuilding of facilities,nand reduction in federal assistance. Butnof all segments of the industry, thenports are least affected by the reductionnof United States shipping because theynstill accommodate foreign ships.nWith all the facts before it, ourngovernment can do no more thannstumble over its feet. During PresidentnNixon’s administration, a cargo preferencenbill was proposed to Congress.n(Cargo preference, somehmes calledncabotage law, requires that a givennpercentage of goods originating in thenUnited States must be transported innUnited States ships.) Congress failed tonpass the legislation when certain elementsnwithin and without the industrynvigorously opposed it. In the Fordnadministration, a somewhat revisedncargo preference bill was again introduced,nand this time Congress passednit only to have President Ford vetonthe bill.nOther nations encourage their peoplento build and operate ships by providingnoutright financial subsidies andnalso indirectly, by means of tax benefits,nlow interest rates on loans, advantageousnaccounting practices, contractsnfor carrying mail, and cabotage laws.nThe reason for this encouragement is,nagain, that shipping directly and indirectlynimproves a nation’s economy.nFunds that are generated for an econo­n54/CHRONICLESnmy by shipping more than pay for thencost of building and running the ships.nThat is why England, Germany, Japan,nTaiwan, Holland, the Soviet Union,nPoland, France, Italy, China, Israel,nGreece, Norway, Sweden, Australia,nand many other nations have fleets ofnships. Our federal government mightnwell adopt this same course to its ownneventual benefit. The returns would benfar greater than the expense.nConsider also the much-discussednimbalance of foreign trade, by whichncost of imports far exceeds the incomenof exports. In an effort to alleviate thenforeign trade deficit, the governmentnhas devalued our money (to little effect).nIf we operated sufficient shippingnto move a much greater quantity of ournproduce, we would be taking a big stepnforward to correct this imbalance. Legislationnhas been passed that requires usnto transport 50 percent of UnitednStates-produced goods in our nativebuiltnand -manned ships, but we havenfailed to implement these laws.nFinally, in terms of national defense,nhistory has shown that ships cannot benbuilt overnight. Most of us are not oldnenough to remember that not one shipnof the emergency fleet built for WorldnWar I was completed on time to sailnwith war goods. The invasion of Europenin World War II was delayed anyear for lack of supply ships, evennthough we had a going merchant fleetnat the time. Not until a cargo fleet ofnsufficient size was assembled could wenassure our soldiers that they wouldnhave all the ammunition, food, gasoline,nand other supplies they needed tonavoid being left high and dry on thenbeaches of Normandy. Many livesnwould have been saved and the warncould have ended a year earlier if wenhad the ships on time to support thentroops.nAs for the present, we completednonly eight major new merchant shipsnin 1986 and 1987. No orders for newncargo ships have been placed sincen1984, though there may be a fewnorders in 1989. Even with respect tononly transporting military cargos, ournoperational fleet is dangerously small.nIn the event of an emergency, wenwould be woefully unprepared to movenmen and supplies. Our reserve fleet isnuseless for this task and is fit only fornscrap. Putting soldiers, crew, and cargonin these relics to send them overseas innnntime of emergency is unthinkable. Wenhave no right, morally or logically, tondepend on what is left of these decrepitnreserve fleet ships; they are too few, toonslow, too inefficient, and too worn.nShould we become involved in anothernmajor conflict, we will again bencaught without the ships essential tonfight a war unless adequate preparationsnare made in advance. In the past,nwe built ships in a hurry and paid atnleast twice the price they would havencost normally. In spite of the difficulties,nwe managed the job. But therenmay no’t be a third chance. As formernCNO Admiral Thomas Hayward succinctlynremarked about the next conflict,n”It will be a come-as-you-arenwar!”nMorris Guralnick is a naval architectnliving in Oakland, California.nMEDIAnNewshoundnby Janet Scott BarlownBack in September, USA Todayn(circ. 1,400,000), in its equivalentnof the man-on-the-street interview,nasked citizens at random, “Do we needna federal death penalty for drug-relatednmurders?” That same week, the AdairnCounty ‘News-Statesman (circ. 3,800;nadvertising slogan: “The only newspapernin the world that covers AdairnCounty”) asked its man-on-the-streetnquestion: “What do you think aboutnthis cool weather we’re having?” Bynjournalistic standards, these two questionsnwould suggest that a large mass-n