Friday, November 21, 2008

It's the Somali pirate's life for me

Often overlooked in the hand-wringing over the slumping global economy is continuing growth and upbeat outlook in the piracy sector. Just last year, Kenya's foreign minister reports, a band of hearty swashbucklers, led by the mischievous Captain Farrah Adid Sparrow, extracted at least $150 million in ransoms from hapless ship owners. As they say in Mogadishu, that's a lot of shillings.

And it'll only get better. Governments and shipping companies whine about it, but $150 million is still chicken feed in the global marketplace. International conglomerates have a lot of money, but not many destroyers. The last time piracy flourished like this, it took about 30 years before the U.S. government got it sorted out. If Farrah Adid Sparrow's men don't start grabbing Carnival cruise ships, they've got a good future ahead of them.

This is African aid you can believe in. No doubt most of the pirate's profits have been earmarked for infrastructure, AIDS prevention and higher education, but if these roguish buccaneers are smart, they'll also take a hard look at the theme-park and movie angle. Fat oil tankers are one thing, but nothing beats a multi-picture deal with Disney.

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