The South Carolina Ports Authority is in the news again. Containers coming through our system dropped 11 percent in 2007. Somehow this drop in cargo should be answered with an expansion of the Charleston port, but no one is explaining why an expansion is a good answer to a drop in demand. Obviously we have capacity to spare at this point. Perhaps we need to update the facilities to attract business, I’m not sure.
There are a couple of things that I am sure of. One is, any call for privatizing the state ports is a bad idea. Sovereign funds have been in the news a lot lately. They’ve been buying up a lot of U.S. banking concerns recently, among other things. This is relevant in a couple of ways.
First, I don’t think we want a Middle Eastern sovereign fund buying up our state’s ports. Or the Germans or the Russians. Oh, maybe the Communist Chinese, I hear they run an excellent port system in Hong Kong.
Second, there is nothing wrong with South Carolina having its own Sovereign fund. A fund that the state, i.e. the citizens of South Carolina own. Right now our ports are probably the crowning jewel of our state’s sovereign fund, one of which I am quite proud of, and I’m not interested in selling it off to any foreign(out of state) concerns.
If the ports need better management, or more legislative help to facilitate improving the infrastructure then I’m all for it. But when you call for the selling off of one of our signature assets to foreign investors whose sole goal is to extract the most amount of profit from our state as possible and take it elsewhere, then I have to say I’m against it.
Keep South Carolina ports for South Carolina.