Archive for March 18th, 2009

The new format


The final rule for the consolidation of the MMC (Merchant Marine Credential) has been published and caused a great uproar from mariners across the country including license holders within the ranks of the USCG.  The subsequent comment period was ignored by the rule-makers when it came to the actual license itself.  The issue that is contested, almost to a man, concerns the proper format of the “traditional” license.  The new M.M.C. abandons the old style license in favor of a passport style booklet.  It’s understandable that the need for consolidation can and should be accommodated but the traditional license should have never been left out of the mix.  It was apparent during and after the issue was proposed that the MMC was going to happen, the surprise for the Coast Guard came when the unholy din arose surrounding the diploma style license we all know and respect.   After the final rule was published, Capt Joel Milton ran an article on his blog displaying a response from a Mr. Jeffrey Lantz who was apparently caught in the crosshairs and forced to give an explanation of our feckless Coast Guard’s behavior and failure to address this issue as part of the final rule, and he sounded surprised that there was an uproar.

I won’t go into the entire letter, I’ll just take this opportunity to “cherry pick” a gem from within said response.  In their haste to accomplish their main goal of reducing the number of documents we need to carry,(by the way, thanks for that) and the numerous appearances said documents require, the Coast Guard demonstrated an incredible lack of concern regarding the document we all recognize as our ticket.  When it comes to the Office of Marine Inspection the USCG may spout tradition and honor as a mantra, but it certainly falls by the wayside in a hurry when it suits their needs.  And as I read Mr. Lantz’s letter, it seems it’s being denigrated as quaintly sentimental and a hokey kind of traditional.  What a pair!

The issue of maintaining a proper diploma style license was supported by every mariner asked, not a few but all.

MERPAC was generous and accommodated the issue of the new MMC but also recommended the traditional license be offered as an optional issue.  I submit the license is more important as a badge of honor than a credential.  By the way, how does one post the new passport style booklet?

I noted a patently ridiculous statement in the response from Mr. Lantz, specifically;There are numerous factors to consider in deciding whether or not to also provide a “suitable for framing copy of the license.” These include the availability of Coast Guard resources, including personnel, paper stock, hardware, software and equipment, and the process for determining and collecting fees.”

Is he kidding me? One piece of paper?  Doesn’t that infrastructure already exist? Is it too much of a reach to tack a fee on the application to include the “traditional framing copy” and process it along with everything else. What issue would any of us have with a note on the document stating it is “for display only”.   How many lawyers do you need to consult regarding those three words?

The next time you walk into your doctor’s office, take note of how many diplomas he  or she has on the wall.  Does it inspire confidence to see proof out in the open that your practitioner is well qualified to handle your situation, or would you rather ask to see some ID just as you’re disrobing for an examination?  C’mon Doc, let’s get out the wallet.

The time it would take to send the data to a printer and the ink it would require wouldn’t amount to 2 minutes or cost more than a dime. The paper adds a quarter, and the personnel time load would be an additional 10 seconds to enter the check mark and push enter. Paper, equipment, personnel? I’m sure there will be about 200,000 license blanks going to a landfill if these folks don’t come to their senses.  Talk about a waste.  Hey, think green!

Enough with the bullshit already….charge another $5.00 and issue the license we all want.  If we have to cough up a couple of bucks it’ll be worth it to you to keep us quiet and you’ll have pin money for the next budget shortfall.

Don’t thank me now, but feel free to drop me a line if you need any more help.

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