[B]Economists: Efficiency through Economy of Scale[/B]
Right now, six separate Academies, six college presidents, six gaggles of various vice-presidents, and you get the image. All of that administration places a big burden on the cost of operating any college or university. Add to that six sets of engineering and deck simulators, the buildings and utilities to serve them, and you have a very expensive continuing state investment that’s difficult (if not impossible) to share among the other State Maritime Academies. Then there’s six STCW programs, complete with periodic USCG audits, the costs of travel and entertainment for all of the engineering and deck officer faculty to meet and discuss STCW, Maritime Administration, and the USCG—hey, and the cost of all of those faculty. Just think what other programs those states can offer, if those capital and operating expenses are liberated?
If the other posters are correct, dropping job prospects and employment opportunities, doesn’t argue in favor of all of these states producing graduates to compete for jobs one Academy can fulfill. In fact, what happens when one unemployable graduate can’t find a job, and sues his/her alma mater? Ask the Law Schools. That’s happening now.
[B]All Politics Are Local[/B]
State General Assemblies, Governors vote with their diminishing dollars to best meet the job market needs of their own states and respective labor markets. If prospects drop, their contributions drop and tuition and fees increase. When user fees increase, federal financial aid and loan program funding increases. And, what about the repayment rates of those graduates who can’t find employment? This is really a race to the bottom.
Maritime programs are both capital intensive and feature high operating costs, like health care. The difference: There is a continuing unmet demand for healthcare professionals. It won’t take too long for state legislators to realize that funding now spent on a declining US maritime industry can be better spent on healthcare we all need. Meanwhile, the federal government can, and should, continue its commitment at USMMA through good times and bad. The federal government can shrink or expand the Academy’s program to meet the changing maritime employment market. The states cannot do the same cost-effectively for their taxpayers.
And, if local power companies want mechanical engineers to staff their power generating facilities, then offer degree programs without the STCW competencies, the maritime simulators, the staffing and cost of the school ships, and all of the regimental “stuff.” Local power companies do not need yet another operating subsidy, especially one that is “billed” to the maritime industry.
[B]Maintenance of Effort (MOE)[/B]
The federal government isn’t stupid. If federal dollars going to Kings Point went to the states instead, each newly arriving federal dollar would be allow each state to withdraw one of their state dollars. That’s why other federal programs require state programs to maintain their MOE, if they want federal dollars as well. Unless, of course, you want to fund six separate state academies, all of their overhead, all of their capital investment all with federal dollars—not state dollars. Those “cost-effective” state programs would finally show their true cost, if all state funding disappeared, and the whole cost had to be funded by the federal taxpayers. [See economy of scale above.]
And what about those school ships? The state maritime academies are campaigning for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal investment for how many ships? Operating subsidies? And, now they’re sending their cadets to the commercial maritime fleet to gain sea time. How is that? [Again, see economy of scale.]
[B]Only the Federal Government Can Do This[/B]
If the recent maritime disasters happened off the coast of the U.S., we’d have the 1936 legislation all over again. U.S. citizens will demand safe, secure shipping, navigation, and engineering. In fact, if LNG shipping really took off in this country, the prospect of floating explosives—even without a disaster—would create the same sense of urgency. There are some things ONLY the federal government can do. Unfortunately, federal ownership causes everyone to forget that 50 state FAA agencies wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, we focus on the problems of the FAA, but we really couldn’t live without the FAA. Get over it.
Remember this: We are an ocean trading nation. Unless we expect coal, commodities, and foreign cars to arrive in individual size packages, shipped by Boeing and Airbus, and sold to us by Apple, big ships, the Panama Canal, harbors and ports, and safe passage are a fact of life. Jones Act? Okay, a disappointment, and right now everyone but the U.S. is in a superior position. Yet, every country has its own version of the Jones Act, and one day China can become a net importing country, and the U.S. will once again become a world exporter the way it once was. What comes around goes around. Ask Smith and Schumpeter. You and I may not see it, but it will happen.
[B]So, What Is This Really About?[/B]
It’s about poor stewardship by the DoT and the Maritime Administration. The relationship between the Academy and the Maritime Administration has always been troubled. The Maritime Administration lost its regulatory responsibilities, isn’t viewed by anyone in the maritime industry as an advocate, and without the RRF, it only has the Academy. All of that firepower and talent has no target, but the Academy. So “oversight” becomes “micromanagement.”
There is little doubt the Secretary wants the best for the Academy. Unfortunately, secretaries are surrounded by political hacks and flacks—the folks who drove the campaign car and did all of the unpaid advance work in support of their candidate. America has the government it deserves. Add that to the Maritime Administration—the little engine that could, and what Superintendent at the Academy stands a chance of success?
Finally, when they tell the tale of the KP Alums, you hear “rags to riches” stories funded by the federal taxpayer. Are these guys appropriately thankful and gracious for a gift from the taxpayers? No, they want to have a “say,” in what happens, but pony up the cash? Show their support and gratitude? With several noteworthy exceptions, they are a disappointment and a disgrace. Actually, that’s a libel to the terms “disappointment” and “disgrace.”
It takes a village to raise an idiot. Congratulations. We have the village.
[B]Blog Sites and Cowardice[/B]
My name is Howard Weiner. I’m the recently retired CIO of the Academy, and I wrote this posting. If you want me to respond to your thoughts, then tell us who you are! Blog sites, in general, and this one in particular, have become the last refuge for cowards. Each of whom is so brave, when they post less than civil (and recently racist) comments and hide their true identity. I had no idea the men and women of the US commercial maritime industry harbored so many cowards.