Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Jones Act Waiver, Please by grassroothawaii
July 14, 2010, 9:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Kyle Shiroma

In a recent article from Hawaii Business News, the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast has re-ignited interest in the Jones Act, a maritime law that requires all goods shipped between American ports to be shipped on American made vessels crewed by Americans.

The Jones Act was implemented in an attempt to protect the American shipping industry from outside competition.  However this ‘protection’ raises prices on all consumer goods; prices which are kept high by stringent minimum wage laws and other regulations.   If foreign ships were allowed to carry goods to American ports, prices would decrease due to the increased competition.  In the case of the Gulf Coast and the oil spill, a waiver of the Jones Act would allow foreign made and crewed ships to assist with the clean up effort.  In a local context, a waiver of the Jones Act would allow foreign ships to bring in goods to the Islands, increasing competition and providing an incentive to lower prices.  Hawaii depends on the shipping of goods more heavily than the mainland, as we are an island state and rely almost solely on the shipping of goods to supply the local economy.  The Jones Act was issued under the formal title of “the Merchant Marine Act of 1920,” 90 years ago.  In the 1920s America was going through a period of great prosperity and innovation, a period that later became known as the “Roaring Twenties.”  America’s economy today is in no way as booming as it was 90 years ago, and high prices due to this protectionist act is making it harder for people in Hawaii to buy basic goods such as food, fuel, and other manufactured products.  A waiver of the Jones Act would bring prices down by increasing competition and doing away with this protectionist act.  It’s time for President Obama to see that a waiver of the Jones Act would let foreign ships help with the oil cleanup in the Gulf as well as lower consumer prices here in the Islands.


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