The Piracy Challenge

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The problem
of Somali pirates, and especially the recent hostage situation,
is being portrayed by many in the media as a challenge for Barack
Obama and his administration. I agree wholeheartedly. In that
spirit, here are the challenges as I see them.

1. I challenge
Obama to admit that the State has no economically viable solution
to the piracy problem and that the free market is the answer.

The Somali
pirates are economically-motivated. As such, they are making cost-benefit,
risk-reward decisions. Their actions are immoral, without question.
But from a utilitarian accounting calculation, the pirates see
their actions as economically viable.

What is the
cost-benefit analysis on the government side? Obama and other
military-minded government heads are using billions of dollars
of taxpayer-funded military hardware and personnel to fail utterly
at stopping the pirates. Furthermore, they are attempting to protect
privately-owned ships that could and should be protected by their
owners at a fraction of the cost. The pirates are using speedboats
and small arms to accost their victims. For relatively little
expense, the owners of the ships could — directly or by contracting
with other agencies — provide security for themselves. They don’t
need heavy artillery or armored flotillas; they need small arms
capable of stopping speedboats, and they need a few trained personnel
on board. That would immediately shift the risk-reward equation
to an unfavorable one for the pirates and put an end to this nonsense.
For the pirates, to upgrade their hardware and tactics would also
tip the cost-benefit out of their favor — they aren’t making enough
money on piracy to fund an arms race with the large enterprises
who own the ships.

By pretending
that a few military vessels spread out on the sea will be able
to protect ships and stop piracy, the State is feeding us the
same line of baloney we’ve been getting for years:

  • It’s not
    working because we’re not spending enough.
  • It’s working,
    even if it’s not perfect.
  • It’s not
    working to go after the individuals; we have to invade their
    home countries.

This is a
bunch of self-serving bunk that Obama and his cohort will use
to justify more spending, bigger government, and expansion of
their empire internationally.

It’s a lot
like the domestic police state: whatever supposed benefit it provides
fails utterly if subjected to a cost-benefit analysis, no individual
protection is available to a citizen, the police want to disarm
private individuals rather than empower us to protect ourselves,
and the State’s failure becomes its justification for ever more
fleecing of the taxpayer.

2. I challenge
Obama to cease all piracy and banditry internationally and domestically.

A pirate
is one who engages in violence or threat of violence at sea for
purpose of expropriation and/or extortion. A bandit is one who
does the same on land.

Obama engages
in exactly those activities when he uses violence or the threat
of violence to bully and plunder Americans by means of taxation,
unjustified restrictions on the use of private property, and coercive
policies on how we live our lives. Furthermore, Obama engages
in piracy and banditry when he uses violence or threat of violence
from the military, intelligence operatives, or mercenaries to
coerce other governments, people groups, or individuals outside
the US to bow to his will.

The Somali
pirates are small potatoes compared to Obama and his ilk. Who
will protect us from the State which is robbing us and pushing
us around with ever-increasing fervor?

3. I challenge
Obama to deal with the problem himself.

We learn
from the Old Testament (2 Samuel 11:1, ESV), “In the spring of
the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab,
and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the
Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
And as a result of David’s dereliction of his kingly duty — that
of personally leading the troops into battle — he engaged in adultery,
abuse of power, and murder that brought tragedy on his own house
and his nation. In that spirit, rather than sending minions to
do his work from afar, Obama should go personally to lead the
battle against the pirates. In fact, the President should always
lead whenever he decides to send the military off on some war
or police action. This would undoubtedly bring more sober judgment
to such decisions.

In reality,
of course, Obama will stay at safe remove from every threat. So
let’s stop pretending that the pirates pose any sort of challenge
to him. The messiah-seekers and celebrity-worshippers would have
us believe that Obama is in some way relevant to solving piracy
and all the other problems of the world. Nonsense! For Obama,
the Somali pirates are merely an opportunity to expand his own
sphere of plundering and bullying.

21, 2009

Myron Weber
[send him mail] is a management
and technology consultant who dabbles in psychology, economics,
theology, autism research, and taekwondo (among other things). Follow
him at

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