Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shortage of Experienced Mariners leads to Pay Cuts

River Towboat (photo by Copyright 2007 DMichael Burns (wikipedia))

According to this AP article AP IMPACT: Tugboat pilot plan may have backfired the towboat and towing industry is experiencing a shortage of workers. Under the free enterprise system this means, we should be seeing some substantial wage hikes. However according to the article:
The new pilots come cheap, too. An apprentice earns about $175 a day compared with $450 a day for a top-grade pilot.
What do you get for $175 a day?
When a towboat commanded by a sleep-deprived novice pilot pushed a fuel barge in front of a tanker in the New Orleans harbor, the collision sliced the fuel barge in half and spilled 283,000 gallons of oil.
How does it happen that a shortage of skilled pilots leads to a pay cut? I recommend two sites for answers, first Masters of Towing Vessels here and National Mariners Association here

The mariners working on the rivers and harbors have spend a lifetime of long work days moving these heavy, powerful vessels in restricted waterways with heavy traffic, often under adverse conditions. In some perversion of an incentive system a shortage of skilled mariners results in a industry that is cutting wages.

Compare $175 a day for moving cargo on the nations waterways to the $2500 a day employees of Goldman Sachs make for destabilizing the nations economic system.

Something ain't right.

I can understand arguments against more government regulations to protect workers and I understand arguments against unions. But what argument can be made at this point against both government regulations and unions? It is clear we are not dealing with the free market here.

What is the alternative to increasing government power?

From LHote: What if the choice is unions or government?

Say whatever you want about unions-- that they're inefficient, that they're slow to evolve, that they are an affront to free market principles-- they are private entities. They are not wings of the government. And they are a way for working Americans to get a hold of the kind of social guarantees that they are demanding without turning to the coercive legal force of government.
Or is $175 a day for a towboat captain too much and $2500 a day for manipulating financial markets too little?


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