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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Jones Act

By Timothy J Droke


January 17, 2018
Wednesday PM

In response to Mr. Art Johnson I would like to put forward some thoughts regarding the Jones Act, which is simply a form of protectionism. With protectionism you see the protected group benefit and those outside the protected group see a negative impact. In this day and age when ships fly a flag of convenience (think Panama or Liberia) the Jones act is ripe for repeal or some modifications. Residents outside the contiguous states such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam all pay out of their pocket higher costs than they should due to this act due to the higher costs associated with operating these US built ships, why should Alaskans pay more for the food on their table to protect a small class of jobs?

You mentioned the cruise ships, well due to the Jones Act these ships all must sail from Vancouver, this could be done out of Washington, creating jobs for Americans yet due to the Jones Act those jobs are all in Canada. This also brings to mind the River cruise company Viking, who had announced plans to cruise the Mississippi by sailing out of New Orleans with various stops along the way but due to the Jones Act they would be required to build 4 new ships in the US at a cost of between 90-100 Million each, they have now pulled out of this plan due to this cost of almost 400 Million dollars a cost at least double what it would if foreign built, once again denying various Americans along the Mississippi further economic opportunity. Jones act shipper Matson will readily tell anyone who will listen that the 4 ships they purchased in the early 2000 s cost 4 times what it would ve if produced in South Korea. One more prime example is the Shale revolution, due to the Jones Act oil companies use foreign flagged vessels to transport the oil from the Gulf to Canadian refineries on the Atlantic coast, not American refineries, once again the Jones Act is denying Americans economic opportunity because we simply don t have enough ships to handle that job, yet those foreign vessels could ve easily delivered that oil to a US refinery, if there was no Jones Act.

Jones Act ships eventually cost more to operate and this is passed down to the consumer through higher shipping costs, it cost more to ship a container from Los Angeles to Hawaii ($8700 and who I believe is trying to get a waiver) than to Shanghai ($780)! This also puts Hawaiian Sugar production at a disadvantage, favoring foreign producers over Americans, once again the Jones Act denies Americans of economic opportunity. Does that make sense? It doesn t yet the consumer pays for it, and that includes Alaskans. In 1999 analysis by the US Dept of commerce concluded the Jones Act cost the American Consumer over 1.3 Billion dollars in higher costs, costs that are un-necessary, further study estimates the Jones Act contributes to 65% of freight costs. Ultimately freight shippers are denied access to over 90% of the world s shipping fleet, and substantial savings. Where is the justification for such protectionism that negatively affects so many Americans?

A few points about the ship building industry in the US, the Organization for Economic development and Cooperation (OECD) notes the Jones Act has shielded US based ship building from economic innovation and technological advancements making our ship building industry less efficient than other countries and has led to an average fleet age of 33 years versus 13 years compared to the Global fleet. . The US had approximately 3,000 large ships in the 60 s, 16.9 percent of the world fleet as of last year we had 169 ships. How about the Jones Act Fleet? Well in the year 200 there were almost 200 ships and as of last year the total was 91 that is an obvious failure to protect those shipbuilding jobs, so why do we need this Act? It s limiting options, thus raising costs.

Earnest Gruening , Alaska s territorial Governor from 1939 1953 assessed the Jones Act by stating Senator Jones (from Washington State) Senator Jones no doubt assumed, and correctly, that this would be most helpful to some of his constituents there (in Washington), as indeed it proved to be, but at the expense, the heavy expense, from that time on, of our vote less citizens of Alaska

The Jones Act is burdensome on the average Alaskan and countless Americans, as is any protectionist measure; repeal is the only way forward.

Timothy J Droke
Mesa, Arizona

About: Tlingit, born and raised in SE Alaska,15 of those years in Ketchikan with plenty of family still in Southeast and I go back the Ketchikan at least twice a year, and against protectionist policies.


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received January 15, 2017 - Published January 17, 2018

Related Viewpoint:

letter Why Protect the Jones Act? By Art Johnson




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