The Jones Act, originally passed in 1920, is a law that requires ships that service U.S. ports to be entirely U.S. owned and operated. This protectionist measure unnecessarily increases costs on American consumers (and producers), especially in places like Puerto Rico and Hawaii, which depend on ocean-shipped cargo for much of their consumer goods. Our friends at the Cato Institute have long recognized how destructive this law is, and have recently made getting it repealed one of their top goals. Read “The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear” from June 2018 for the full story.
They describe their goal like this:
The Cato Institute seeks to raise awareness about the Jones Act and lay the groundwork for the repeal or reform of this outdated law.
Since 1920 the Jones Act has mandated that the sea transport of cargo between U.S. ports must be performed by vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S. flagged, and U.S.-crewed. Justified on national security grounds, the law was meant to ensure a strong maritime sector to bolster U.S. capabilities in times of war or national emergency. These envisioned benefits, however, have proved illusory while the Jones Act has imposed a very real and ongoing economic burden. Despite this, the law survives thanks to well-connected supporters and ignorance of the Jones Act and its costs by the general public.
The Cato Institute aims to shake up this status quo by shining a spotlight on the Jones Act’s myriad negative impacts and exposing its alleged benefits as entirely hollow. By systematically laying bare the truth about this nearly 100 year old failed law, the Cato Institute Project on Jones Act Reform is meant to raise public awareness and lay the groundwork for its repeal or reform.
In addition to the general explainer video above, Cato has also released the video below, focusing on how increased costs from the Jones Act impact a particular business in Hawaii, the Koloa Rum Company:
- “Rep. Dave Brat's Pro-Competitive Free to Fly Act Is a First Step in the Right Direction” (Marc Scribner, 2/15/18)
- “So, What Regulations Did Trump Eliminate?” (Wayne Crews, 12/27/17)
- “No Reason for Denying Puerto Rico a Jones Act Waiver” (Marc Scribner, 9/27/17)
- “Readers Contest Factcheck.Org's ‘Oil Spill, Foreign Help, and the Jones Act’” (Hans Bader, 7/12/10)