The case of pirates off the coast of Somalia does raise a number of questions, such as: even with the pirates charging fees for passage, is it still cheaper to import goods to Somalia than if, e.g., the U.S. government were running the show? How to pirate fees compare to duties and other costs of bringing goods in the U.S.? This is worth looking into
firstname.lastname@example.org posted this interesting message to a Mises list:
Given how much press attention these shipping adventures off the coast of Somalia are receiving lately, I was thinking how much more effectively the free market could address these situations.
The U.S. government is sending large ships such as this into the area (as are other national governments):
Notice how this particular ship may require a crew of 270!
And yet, this same ship took 6 hours to respond to a distress call!
The USS Bainbridge is the guided-missile destroyer that was behind the three navy SEAL snipers whom were recently propelled into the media spotlight for doing such a top-notch job, but it is important to note that the SNIPERS were the specific element that accomplished the mission–guided missiles were not involved.
Obviously, if one needed a banana, they would not necessarily need to grow a banana tree.
But shouldn’t this be a complete joke? I mean, talk about using a sledgehammer to do the job of a chisel! U.S. guided missile destroyers are being used to defend PRIVATE (and International, no less) ships?
It would be far more effective to allow private ships to arm themselves with a few M-16s and/or even 50-caliber machine guns/mortars; would it not? Even if it is the U.S. navy’s theoretical job to patrol International waters for private merchants (which it obviously should not be), would it not make far more sense to only allow a few Navy seals to station themselves solely on those private ships registered with U.S. corporations that volunteer to have publicly paid soldiers aboard, and/or, to ensure the private ships in question pay at least half of the public soldiers’ pay for the time they are protecting their private interests?
[Note: U.S. government forbids the ships from arming themselves]
Some of these private ships are cruise ships–I do not see how paying for someone’s cruise is my job as a taxpayer!
It seems like this should be an extremely easy problem to fix, but then again, the U.S. government isn’t exactly in the problem-fixing business.
I only mention it here because I haven’t heard much from any Austrians on this issue and I think it would be hysterical to point this out to all of our federalist friends. Heck, even Jefferson goofed up when it came to dealing with pirates in American history.