Does Revisiting /amending the ‘Jones Act’ Have Merit?

In consideration of the case ‘for’ further amendments of the Jones Act or abolishing and draw up new Merchant Marine Act :
see links :

June 28, 2019
Policy Analysis

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These are pretty good articles.Thanks for posting them.
But it seems to be a little skewed one way.
It definitely should be revamped to keep up with the times, as it is now originally rather old.
But ultimately I think the intent of “U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S.-flagged, and U.S.-staffed” as the core concept should not be changed.
Expensive shipyards here in the states are becoming a major problem no doubt. I’ve not done one S/Y in the USA in the past 10 years, due to astronomical cost compared to someplace like Sembawang. I’ve always liked the workers there, but damn, that’s a fuggin hard life to be employed by a Singaporean S/Y.There are some pretty questionable things being done there too, as Im sure anybody whos been there would agree. Some of those guys are getting $20 a day, working every day for the past 15 years…Not Okay. But then again its not all that simple… right?

I also have a few friends from Australia that had a sort of equivalent to “Jones Act” that has been slowly eroded to nothing. To my knowledge the mariners can no longer get the jobs that the Bangladeshi mariners will do as smiling “indentured servants”.
This is an International industry and we as Americans are in competition with some very low paying flag states, with different standards of acceptable living and working conditions.
Personally, Ive never felt overpaid for what Ive been doing for so many years. American shipping HAS to be protected some how by a Merchant Mariner Act.

Revamp - Absolutely
Abolishment - Not as long as I can do something about it.


Both of those articles have been discussed on here ad nauseum.


The El Faro being old and shitty wasn’t caused by the Jones act as all competing vessels are subject to the same build requirements. It was caused by being on a very competitive run with low profit margin, in which case even foreign flagged ships would be old shitboxes.

The Cato Institute is an extremely biased source (pro big business, anti worker) and their analysis (intentionally?) omits important cost factors.


The articles made vague promises of cheaper goods to consumers which to my knowledge have never eventuated and neglected to inform you of who the main beneficiaries would be from the repeal of the Jones Act.
As one who worked in just about every sector of shipping I saw how structured supply lines, GPS systems and quick and easy movement of experts made knowledgeable sea staff redundant. The last refuge of seafarers receiving a living wage living in a first world country was the oil patch.
The horse is gone leaving only something good for growing roses. I made sure that my children did not consider a seagoing career.


No point to be made from these facts; just something to ponder.

US Airlines fly Airbus, Embraer, Bombardier, etc airplanes…flown by USA Citizens with cabotage laws. Many airline pilots (at least at the majors) make significantly more than US Mariners. Imagine what it would be like if only USA made planes were allowed.


Imagine what it would be like if there were only one Maritime officers Union and all sailing officers had to be a member.

Something like Nautilus?

How does that get more ships built and more US maritime deep sea jobs?

Crewing ships is a variable cost. Building new ships is a huge capital cost. The former is easily addressed once the new ships are in place.

It doesn’t, it addresses the pay issue you brought up.

The pay “issue” is a little more nuanced. Only a small percentage of airline pilots make the “big money”. And many times, they don’t reach that (due to seniority) until they are in their 40’s or 50’s. It is very possible, if not normal, for somebody to be sailing master/chief by their mid 30’s (if they want to and are not a dumbass).

There are also multiple airline pilot unions…and not all are union (jet blue was non-union for a long time).

Regardless, the point is that the lack of new airplanes is not the limiting factor in airline pilot job creation. If all planes had to be made in the USA and the factories did not compete on the world market, it is likely a Boeing would cost 4x+ what other planes cost.

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