Weighed down by the world's highest taxes, labor and construction costs, the U.S. merchant fleet survives only by dint of vast Government subsidies:
$416 million yearly. Any attempt to pare the handouts or change the fleet's special-treatment laws is usually torpedoed by the industry and its combative unions. Last week a Government task force headed by Commerce Under Secretary Alan Boyd bravely launched a drastic program for shipping reform.
» End all U.S. passenger service by 1977 simply by not replacing the 13 luxurious but mostly money-losing U.S. liners as they wear out. Estimated ultimate saving: $47 million yearly.