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A REMEDY DEMANDED AND A MEANS OF PROVIDING IT.
A faithful effort has been made in the foregoing chapters to show by a conclusive array of fact and circumstance how deeply our domestic welfare and our national defense are involved in the re-establishment of an American merchant marine. No other
problem now before our people so vitally concerns their future prosperity or their military security. And no other presses upon us so urgently for solution.
These highest interests may have been just as much at stake in years gone by as they are at present. Our well-being as a nation may have demanded action just as strongly then as now, but we either would not or could not comprehend the importance of dealing decisively with this far-reaching question. We preferred to pursue the course of least resistance, to calmly dissipate our
heritage, to surrender our standing as an ocean carrier, and to leave the fate of our foreign commerce in the hands of ungenerous aliens.
It has taken the demoralization of a world war to move us. Only the complete derangement of all foreign relationships, the utter collapse of the entire international trade structure could force upon us the realization that our faith had been misplaced and that our fancied immunity from danger and damage was founded upon shifting sands. But disillusionment has come, and with it a challenge that we must heed. We must act now, and act definitely, for the protection of our over-seas industry, or else confess that we are incapable of meeting a national emergency and unfitted to grasp a national opportunity.
The conditions are all spread before us. We know, at last, exactly where we stand. We know our necessities, and we know the extent of our native resources. We know
the fatuity of further reliance upon the foreigner to do our work, and we know the price we must pay if we undertake to do it ourselves. We know that the markets of half the world are wide open to us, and we know that we cannot enter them without the means of delivering our goods. We know that there are millions, yes, billions of dollars to be made, and we know that they cannot be made unless we establish and maintain direct ocean communication with our customers. We know that the exigencies of war have crippled our trade rivals for the time being, but we know, just as surely that soon or late they will come back. These are, briefly, the profit possibilities which the events of the past two years have defined
But that is not all. We have learned, without having to go to war, the steps we must take in order to prepare ourselves for effective self-defense. We have learned that we have no means of moving an army
corps, at one time, a thousand miles from
We have learned that we have
no facilities for supporting our fighting fleets while they are at sea. We have learned that we have no marine service for the training of a naval reserve. We have learned, in other words, that we could not carry on an expeditionary campaign, that we would not dare send our men-of-war into midocean to destroy an enemy, and that we could not replace with trained recruits the men we might lose in a naval engagement. This is, in brief, the information we have acquired about ourselves from a naval and military standpoint.
These revelations might disturb us, even to the point of panic, but for others reassuring in their effect. We have found, for instance, that many of the earlier disadvantages under which our shipping labored have disappeared. We have found that our superb terminal facilities can be adapted to the use of our foreign trade. We have found
that we can build ships at home for about what we would pay abroad. We have found that we can admit to our registry any foreign-built vessel and can import free of duty any amount of ship material. We have found that our measurement laws are substantially in accord with those of other countries. We have found a taxation margin overwhelmingly in our favor. We have found that money for marine investments can be secured at smaller interest rates than ever before, and, what is more important than any of these considerations, we have found that by the use of oil for propulsion we can man and operate mercantile ships with American seamen more economically than at any other time in our history, and in successful competition with the world.
Briefly stated, these are the conditions which the American people have to face in solving the problem of a merchant marine. On the one hand, we may visualize our national necessities in the light of admitted