I found one point in the Forbes article below interesting. It remarks that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is set up as a cooperative scenario where all ports share the trust fund. It is funded by a tax on goods moved through, so large ports pay a larger share in than small ones.
But of course ports are in competition, and the question of fairness arises. A large port like LA uses on a per unit basis a lot less of the fund than a small eastern port. So is there a cooperative solution, a way of allocating the fund each year so everyone is well off? Those with large traffic contributions get large amounts, those small ports don’t? It’s hard to say. In general, allocation by usages does not match the needs well.
One alternative is to convert the allocation into a strategic game in which ports compete in the political arena using their representatives to negotiate deals. It used to be called earmarking, and is not in good repute today. But politics is still part of the process. Does this lead to fair allocations? Unlikely.
Mike Blaszczyk of USF brought this article to our attention.