Thursday, March 09, 2006

On the Waterfront

Linda Chavez, a columnist at Townhall, writes about a problem I alluded to in this post on the Dubai Ports World buyout of P&O's Terminal Operations. The problem is the International Longshoreman's Association (the ILA).

That the Mafia has close ties to the ILA is an "open secret" in the steamship business. Cargo "shortages" are not new. Containerization has curtailed much of it, but stuff still disappears. (Once an entire refrigerated container of frozen meat destined for the Mediterranean loaded on the ship in Savannah and disappeared after the ship arrived in New York. The empty container was eventually found on the dock.) Where the loyalties of the Mafia are is uncertain.

I have not studied the Mafia extensively and do not pretend to be an expert. However, from the little I have read about them, it appears that the Mafia's primary loyalty is to itself in general and to their Family in particular. There seems to be a certain quid pro quo expected in dealing with the Mafia. Forget that and you disappear. Or are publicly dead.

Would Mafia leaders sacrifice Americans for a price? Or does their concept of "Family" include the country of their birth? I can see where their honor would not allow any "outsiders" to harm the U.S., especially the cities where they live. On the other hand, there is money to be made. And if the Mafia leaders feel insulted or slighted, all bets are off.

But now that DPW has backed out of the port operations deal and "some American" company will take over, port security, port operations, and who's controlling the labor will fade into the background. No one wants to tackle this particular hydra. Frankly, I don't blame them.