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1.19.12 - Ken Hocke Blog photo Bloomberg off base on Jones Act


January 3, 2013

It didn’t take long for the first editorial calling for the abolishment of the Jones Act to appear in 2013. On New Year’s Day, an opinion piece on Bloomberg View, “How a Disaster Called the Jones Act Blocks Disaster Relief: View,” said that the Jones Act has outlived its usefulness.

The editorial points out that President Obama had to temporarily suspend the maritime law in order for foreign ships to help carry needed supplies to Hurricane Sandy ravaged areas. “Within days of the president’s actions, gasoline prices declined and filling station lines, which had required police patrols to keep the peace, soon disappeared,” the editorial said.

Fine. That’s why the president has the ability to do that when a natural disaster occurs. Looks to me like the system worked.

Yet that’s not good enough, according to Bloomberg.

The editorial goes on to say, “U.S. islands such as Puerto Rico and Hawaii, along with the state of Alaska, feel the effects of the Jones Act more than most localities.”

Well, scrap the Jones Act and see what happens to the oil and gas industry in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico — a move that would affect every state in the U.S. Only the strongest of second-tier shipyards would be able to survive when offshore service vessel companies build their boats in Asia and elsewhere and then send them to work in the U.S. Gulf. In addition, U.S.-based OSV companies would hire cheaper foreign workers or U.S. crews willing to work for far less than they are receiving now in order to compete with foreign companies.

The last thing the U.S. needs is thousands of shipyard workers and boat crews either unemployed or underemployed. This is another way to move U.S. jobs overseas.

So. you don’t believe it will happen? Ask yourself how many container ships and big tankers are built in the U.S. Stripping away the Jones Act will change that scenario for the better? No way.

The Jones Act is not perfect. But letting everyone into the pool is not the answer. A better system requires compromise — something this country is in short supply of at the moment.    

Expand/View Comments -  4 Comments
01/08/2013 18:20:10 DON MCGRADY says:

People like Bloomburg haven't finished destroying our country, don't worry they will succeed if we keep sittjng on our hands.

01/08/2013 17:21:13 JACE REPPOND says:

I agree with you! I don't know about you but I'm getting sick and tired of those that don't have a clue talking about things that they don't even have the facts on! When was the last time they (or anyone that wrote the article) put to sea? Funny how they want to impact our jobs! Wonder how they would act if we could impact theirs?

01/08/2013 17:02:41 Richard Sanchez says:

Ken, I completely agree with you about the Jones Act. The Jones Act seems to be everyone’s favorite punching bag. When critics of the Jones Act sight higher shipping cost for Hawaii and Alaska, they fail to see the broader economic and national defense benefits. One of the major benefits of the Jones Act is that it protects the US shipbuilding and work boat industries. It’s one of the remaining manufacturing industries that are still strong in US, providing good paying US jobs. Not every industrialized country has an energetic shipbuilding industry. Anyways, TWIC cards are already an annoyance to US mariners can you imagine the system they’d come up with for foreign mariners going in and out of US ports?

01/08/2013 16:06:05 WINSTON RICE says:

And what Bloomberg also fails to point out is that there were more than adequate fuel stocks available in storage and to the tri-state area after Sandy! It was only damaged roads and streets that prevented these available fuel stocks from being transported overland to replenish filling stations in short order. Furthermore, there was also available after Sandy more than adequate, available US flag, coastwise-qualified tanker tonnage to supply whatever the needs of the tri-state area might be. Thus, Pres. Obama’s order suspending the effect of the Jones act was totally uncalled for, and its only real effect was to open the gate for foreign flag shipping to undercut our already struggling coastwise-qualified tanker fleet.

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