I’ll take care of this piracy thing | VailDaily.com

I’ll take care of this piracy thing

Ryan Bowers
Vail, CO, Colorado

A copy of the following will go into the mail to Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall on Monday morning:

Dear Senator, I am writing today to formally request issuance of a Letter of Marque and Reprisal against pirates operating in and around the waters of the African continent. Article one, section eight of the U.S. Constitution enumerates this among the powers of Congress, so while constitutional authority has not thus far been a subject of concern for the current administration, this would actually within the bounds of what the government is allowed to do.

While such letters were banned by the Declaration of Paris in 1856, the United States did not actually sign that treaty, and honors it only as far as a gentleman’s agreement. Clearly, this is not binding, and in the face of having U.S. shipping interests captured and held for ransom by pirates, some response above “tut-tut” is in order.

Remember, the last time this situation arose, the U.S. Marine Corps added a rather memorable line to their official hymn, one which kept would-be riff-raff at bay for over 200 years.

As recent events have demonstrated that a modern multi-billion dollar navy is no match for Somali pirates, I feel it is neither out of line nor inaccurate to note that as a private citizen using my own resources, I can perform a task the U.S. Navy is currently failing at for a much greater cost efficiency.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

To go a step further, such a letter would generate revenue for the currently desperately cash-strapped government coffers, as the proceeds generated by any captured vessels would logically count to my personal taxable income.

While I don’t feel it particularly fair to hand over a share of income earned by personally cleaning up after a government agency’s failings, such is the nature of taxation.

Naturally, any income generated from anti-piracy operations on the high seas will be diligently reported to the IRS with the same honesty and accuracy as the very secretary of the treasury himself. Fair is fair, after all, and I’m sure the economy in the area where seized assets would be processed are quite compliant with the tracking and reporting needs of the IRS.

If you’re still unconvinced, senators, consider that granting my request would benefit not only U.S. shipping interests, but would also benefit our allies. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a decrease in pirates makes shipping easier for everybody.

With one simple letter, the United States could regain the goodwill of other nations plagued by these modernized anachronisms. Can you place a dollar value on the thanks of a foreign nation (and if you can, would you be agreeable to deducting that amount from what the IRS will claim I owe)? Tales of Somali pirates terrorizing vessels operating under nearly any flag you care to name have been in the news for quite some time now, and it is within the power of Congress to take steps to if not eliminate, at least severely reduce the losses suffered by many countries, and many more private companies.

Finally, consider the risk-to-reward ratio. A Letter of Marque does not grant me any special assistance from the government. It will cost only the price of the stationary on which it is printed, and should I fall victim to the pirates myself, it would be nobody’s fault or responsibility but my own.

When I succeed, however, the government will generate revenue, make the seas a safer place, and stop the financial hemorrhage incurred by having U.S. Navy resources operating in the area. How many sailors are drawing a paycheck across how many ships in order to have a staring contest with one small lifeboat? My private operations would be able to save the United States literally hundreds of millions of dollars once the cost of the ships and weapons are factored in, and given current government spending practices, every last penny of those savings are desperately needed.

Thank you for your time and consideration, senators. I look forward to receiving my official letter as soon as possible, as clearly there is much work to be done.

PS: Anybody know where I can scare up a crew? I should be covered on paper sometime next week.

Ryan Bowers

Support Local Journalism