Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Interesting Articles

First, from today's New York Times comes an op-ed piece in which the writers argue that it is time to repeal the Merchant Marine Acts, which limit coastwise shipping to American flag vessels built in the United States. The authors suggest that this has effectively reduced the the attractiveness of shipping as a means of transport within the U.S. and leads to energy waste and lost transit time at higher costs.

This article, from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times explains how Customs and Border Protection mis-allocated so-called Byrd Amendment funds to shrimpers on the Gulf Coast. In one case, a shrimper who should was expecting $210,000 received a check for $2.1 million. It appears that CBP processed the requests without much review. The honest person who received the erroneous refund returned it to CBP, which has now commenced an audit of the refund process. Too bad the Byrd Amendment turned out to be illegal about a dozen different ways (e.g., WTO, NAFTA, free speech, equal protection), because it seems like a good opportunity for less honest entrepreneurs.

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