LETTERS

LETTERS

Overcoming obstacles

I must have been overly "animated" and probably talking much too fast, so would like to make a minor correction to the Snapshot piece of June 10: In the paragraph on FastShip, the 2 percent of the ocean market we expect FastShip to attract fills half of FastShip's capacity ? the other half comes out of standard airfreight, which FastShip will do at half the price.

The article also reports that some regard FastShip as a "preposterous fantasy." I remember people using the same words in relation to jet aircraft and even in relation to containerization. So nothing new here; indeed nothing new since Alexander Hamilton in his "Report on Manufacturers" submitted to the House of Representatives on Jan. 15, 1790, so wisely wrote:

"Experience teaches, that men are often so much governed by what they are accustomed to see and practice, that the simplest and most obvious improvements, in the (most) ordinary occupations, are adopted with hesitation, reluctance and by slow gradations. The spontaneous transition to new pursuits, in a community long habituated to different ones, may be expected to be attended with proportionately greater difficulty . . . To produce the desireable (sic) changes, as early as may be expedient, may therefore require the incitement and patronage of government.

"The apprehension of failing in new attempts is perhaps a more serious impediment. There are dispositions apt to be attracted by the mere novelty of an undertaking ? but these are not always those best calculated to give it success. To this, it is of importance that the confidence of sagacious capitalists, both citizens and foreigners should be excited. And to inspire this description of persons with confidence, it is essential, that they should be made to see in any project, which is new, and for that reason alone, if, for no other precarious, the prospect of such a degree countenance and support from government, as may be capable of overcoming the obstacles, inseperable (sic) from the first experiments."

Christopher J. Rankin

New York