Well okay, supposedly the days of the pirates are long gone. As Jimmy Buffet so often tells us he was born a century too late to be a pirate! He is probably as surprised as the rest of us that the profession of high sea, pirating seems to be experiencing a re-birth of sorts. Yet if you really look into it, piracy has been with us all along. Yet somehow DVD pirating or stealing movies and copying them or even taking computer programs and copying them then selling them as originals doesn’t hold the aire of mystery and romanticism as high sea pirating does.
The opening of the CBS evening news last week had Katie Couric saying a first. “I have never opened the news talking about Pirates,” she said with a smile. She had better get used to it. The world wide shipping companies apparently are and their recent reports tell us that there may be well over a hundred ships at this time being held for ransom! Add to that all the main shipping lines off the cost of Africa susceptible to being attacked by pirates? Arghhhh!
Now most of us have romanticized at one time or the other about the life of the pirate I am sure. Oh to be one of a crew down on their luck with a Captain who basically has a heart of gold out sailing the ocean blue looking for bounty, rum, adventure and wenches! Think again. Today’s pirates have cojones the size of grapefruit and fortitudes made of iron. They set out to sea not in large water craft with munitions of cannons and cats of nine tails, but in small boats not meant for high sea travel, armed with ak-47’s, climbing nets and at times only a mere knowledge of the language of the ship they are attempting to seize. Guns tend to speak the universal language of, “hands up!”
At first you might think, how do they do that? We know why for sure. You can make three or four million at a clip and the money comes in American dollars! But just getting on this moving ship has got to be a chore! I mean after all this is not some small thing to do. A ship sailing international waters carrying tons and tons of cargo is quite a large vesicle. How do six or seven guys in little more than a powered skiff do this? Very carefully, but apparently very successfully. And the more successful they are apparently the bolder they are getting.
Major reasons are that once aboard they find the crews are seldom armed. I heard mention that it might be against international law to have an armed crew, but one can only think that out there on the open sea, its everyman for himself; come dressed accordingly! Once seized, the owners figure it is cheaper to pay the ransom than it is to start arming the crews or putting people on the ship that could protect it. In other words, if they can pass the cost onto the consumer, no on gets hurt and well, it’s just the price of doing business. Which leads us with a lot of ifs; if the ship doesn’t get hijacked and chances are it won’t that means more money for them. If it does, they just tac whatever they paid onto the final bill of the delivery. If there are no weapons and no one gets hurts, well it’s a win win for everyone. It is no crime to pass costs onto the customers. It is and shall always be the national anthem of corporate America. But in the long run it leaves one wondering who the real pirates are here.