Cato’s New Jones Act Billboard

Check out the color scheme, that’s one of the new low cost Alaska Marine Highway ferries.


By getting so the long haul tricks off the road…

Minor point but If I remember correctly, there was a pilot program in the early days of NAFTA that allowed Mexican trucks in but there were too many safety violation and it was shut down.

I ignore most what comes out of the Cato Institute. The Koch clan are John Birchers from way back. They are pro oligarch pro immigration guys. They like their cheap labor much as the crowd in Silicon Valley do and Trump for that matter. Illegal or H2B visas are cheap labor that depress wages for US workers. Many qualified high tech US workers are passed over or have been laid off so that cheap foreign workers get hired. Try that in one of those “socialist countries” in Scandinavia .
Trump asked for 40 H2B visas for workers for his house in Palm Beach last year and has done so for years at his resorts so he is a hypocrite that makes a Pharisee look like a saint. Don’t expect much but BS from him on the matter of immigration that counts for US workers.
Once the Jones Act is fully enforced it will be changed and likely not to US mariners benefit. It is a simple matter of economics. Mariners don’t have enough money to buy laws. One hundred thousand letters to congress for mariner jobs will be negated by $100,000 in “campaign contributions”.


A message from the horses (or is it a gazzel?) mouth!

Please feel free to join in on our conversation Colin. I can’t promise a warm and fuzzy reception but I can state that the gCaptain forum welcomes all perspectives and has never shied away from a good debate.

Love this

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This campaign might be successful for one simple reason, it plays to the average person’s ignorance of our industry. Sadly, our industry does a terrible job of fighting back.

I live in Hawaii, the ‘ground zero’ of this battle. We are one of the bluest states in the USA and thus, our congressional representatives are hardcore #JonesAct supporters. NOT because of their political affiliation, that’s too obvious. But Hawaii is also the state with the highest organized labor population (per capita). We have the nation’s lowest voter turnout. So the few who go and vote, are unionized labor, and the vote as ordered…for the usual suspects in the Democrat party.

Otherwise, the vast majority of the people here HATE THE JONES ACT and believe the voluminous material pushed forward by ‘anyone’ about the evils of the Jones Act. Hawaii is a very expensive place to live and THAT is directly attributed to the Jones Act.

The Cato Institute and their funding from the Koch brothers will win the argument because the Koch’s have unlimited wealth to support their effort to push back against the Jones Act. Second, the Koch’s will find many Republicans to listen to their lobbying effort, while also accepting campaign donations. Third, it doesn’t take much to convince the average (ignorant of the specifics) person the Jones Act is bad.

I suggest an industry-wide effort at all levels to “educate” rather than try to fight everyone’s opinon.

Example? Most people in Hawaii think cargo MUST go from Asia to the west coast, then Hawaii…BECAUSE OF THE JONES ACT! No. But repeat the lie enough times and people eventually think it’s part of the 10 commandments.

Fact? There are two liner service companies (APL and ONE) that run between Asia and Honolulu directly each week. I know that because I’m a Harbor Pilot that brings those ships in all the time. But most people don’t know that. When I tell them they can get their stuff from Asia direct, fast and cheap…their heads blow up?! “What??? I never knew that?!” is the usual response.

WE HAVE TO DO BETTER at correcting the myths and false statements that people hear, read, and see (on these stupid billboards, for example) every day. The AMP should buy Billboard space right behind this sign that has another simple short message in support of the Jones Act.

Americans are ignorant of the law and what it’s benefits are…because they don’t know. That’s not their fault. It’s our fault for not helping them to understand.


“Americans are ignorant of the law and what it’s benefits are…because they don’t know. That’s not their fault. It’s our fault for not helping them to understand.”

At best they would only see this as a choice between some group of jobs and another group of jobs none of which are theirs, so why should they care? To me though, the billboard seems awfully poor effort to sink a point into American consciousness, “Hey, you see any trucks? That’s because of the Jones Act!”

Couldn’t it also be about underutilized rail? Underfunded roads and highway infrastructure? The GWB ain’t gonna get wider. Why does the maritime community get the blame for what’s going on on the road? Does anyone really believe that the cost of building and operating ships is a primary factor to seeing trucks and congestion? That’s a heck of a leap when a simpler answer exists for the dominance of trucking over marine in US freight movement. The markets have spoken and especially for freight moving in the US, for non-bulk commodities especially, the truck is the preferred option especially in low distance moves. And why not? It’s one intermodal exchange, off the ship, or off the loading dock into the road system to final delivery, not off the ship onto feeder ship or rail line for further interchanges and the need to end up on the road system later possibly with more complicated intermediaries, often between companies and that’s a more complex transaction, paperwork, etc… just put it on the millions of chassis from the dozens if not hundreds of trucking companies (saturated market, cheaper due to competition, unlike maritime) and send it. More reliable to schedule, less weather impacts, trucks are more likely to break, stop and get fixed versus sink (typically), once it’s on a chassis, you can change the trucks easily in the event of casualty, more flexible dispatching, and (I was thinking), probably better insurance options given limits of liability in marine.

I think the data bears this out (all from Bureau of Transportation Statistics).


As you can see, Marine (curiously indicated by color green vice either of the two blues used), is a pittance. Rail gains over trucking once the distances increase, no surprise there. Distances over 2000 miles bring a significant increase for marine, probably representative of export and/or island shipping. So when you consider this data, against, the amount of freight moved -


Look at the 250-499 mile cumulative weight percentage, 84 percent of US freight is moved less than 500 miles. Trucks will of course garner the majority share of this in such situations for packages or trailerable cargo. So the congestion isn’t about ships, it’s about living near where stuff comes in (ports and the like), passes through (major arteries and highways used by everyone because why spend on infrastructure, low taxes, too hard to get the land, etc…) or ends up (factories and ports and end users—where the people work and live, no surprise there). Doesn’t seem likely that marine transportation overhead costs would make a dent in why trucks won’t remain dominant (and visible) for anything that can’t be put in a pipeline or shipped in large bulk quantities near an optimized marine transportation system like the barges on the Mississippi.


I see a frightening tendency on both sides of the political aisle to disregard truth in the service of advantage.


Not to mention that while underway, trucks only require a crew of one and they are paid less than mariners.

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Tut tut. Economies of scale dictate that if you take 100 of those 53’ trailers and float them up the river on something with 10 persons working onboard, that salary is moot. :face_with_monocle:

I’m not so sure. Trucks deliver containers from arrival in the 500 mile range directly to factory, warehouse or whatever. Short sea means you now have to unload from a ship to a ship or barge to cover the 500 miles and still need a truck to complete the journey to its final destination.

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You’d need a lot more storage space at the deepwater terminal, seems to me. And some at the other end too, of course.


I expect one of the primary reasons for this is trucks (and all land transportation in general) are significantly faster. By water could be cheaper but it could never be faster.


If the USMM collapses I’ll just go work at a think tank. Get paid to screw over working men and women. I learned how to do the essay with blockquotes in highschool. Just give me a general idea and I’ll pump out some essays and post smarmy tweets.

Nice fucking billboard Colin, you really studied traffic congestion and found it was the Jones act all along. Who woulda thunk.

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If you are shipping very high value computer chips (millions $$$$$ per container) you air freight them because the interest expense per day is a lot more than the shipping cost.

If you are shipping a low value commodity (like hay, gravel, or scrap) that does not incur much interest expense per day, then speed does matter much, but shipping cost which is often more than the initial cost of the commodity, matters a lot.

With rail it depends on volume. If you are a high volume shipper, rail is quite cheap. But if you are shipping less than a full rail car, or in some cases two full rail cars, and you don’t own your own rail cars, trucking, even from coast to coast is usually a lot cheaper.

There are thousands of truck brokers that help small businesses, by helping truckers find low rate backhauls so they don’t have to run empty coming back. There are very few rail brokers, and very few consolidators that will combine less than rail car loads. There are a few brokers for barge tows, but they don’t book partial loads.

FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the common carrier trucking companies are the only option for the average consumer, or 95 percent of US businesses for domestic freight.

Rail, barge, and short sea shipping just isn’t accessible to most US consumers and business, except for shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

For international shipments, the steamship companies and the NVOCCs ship most container loads and LCL freight from door to door, including inland trucking Overseas and in the US, all under one bill of lading.

For domestic trade, most goods are sold are FOB “free onboard” at the seller’s facility, leaving the buyer responsible for transportation and insurance. A great many international sales are CIF or CIS, “cost, insurance, and shipping,” that is the good are sold from overseas delivered to your door with shipping and insurance included.

If a domestic large scale tug and barge, or feeder ship, freight service ever becomes viable in the US, it will be run by the large common carrier trucking companies, not the steamship companies.

We will never be able to compete on a global scale with the East Asian shipbuilders at our current standard of living. Even the vaunted Euro’s have their hulls and machinery built by peasants and towed over to Europe to compete the final installation of their techno-wizardry. So should we just retreat from merchant shipbuilding completely and hope for the best in the event of war? Hope a friendly neighbor will build ships for us? I’m sure that will work and we can safely bet our nation on it…


The kind of war that requires shipbuilding is long gone and if a real war lasted long enough to need a ship there won’t be any need for an American built one even if we could.

Real maritime nations build and buy new ships and replace them after a few years, we have not been a real maritime nation for a very long time - thanks MARAD.

It’s cheaper and faster to buy a low mileage foreign bottom than to revive the victims of political and corporate fratricide in the USA.


Unfortunately I believe our competitors abroad harbor no such illusions about the impossibility of total war in the future. It’s nice that you do, but again I don’t think our nation should bet on it either.

You do realize that this has literally been the predominant argument that was made before every major war in human history.

The bestselling book in the years leading up to Franz Ferdinand being shot shot was written by the president of an Ivy league school. The topic? How world economies are too interdependent to ever go to war again.

That said, it doesn’t matter what you or I think, it matters what the leaders of this country and china think.

Well you don’t have to take my word for what the leaders think about WW3. Trump’s #1 advisor wrote a book spelling out the mindset of both US and Chinese leaders:

Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World

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