Trump on the Jones Act


WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was weighing permitting foreign-flagged vessels to ship relief supplies from U.S. ports to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, but noted U.S.-based maritime carriers opposed the move.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came after a group of House Democrats and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona asked the Department of Homeland Security to waive the restrictions, contained in a 1920 law called the Jones Act, which they say will burden the relief effort and increase the cost of bringing critical supplies to islanders.

“We’re thinking about that,” Mr. Trump told reporters when asked if he would lift restrictions on foreign vessels’ operations, “but we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people… who work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now.”

Not justified. This law shouldn’t exist. Millions of Puerto Ricans are suffering because somebody won’t let cheap shipping hit their shores. Even when the people in question are desperate.

It’s also why Hawaii looks like a pseudo-middle income nation, instead of the American version of Singapore.

I have a friend who graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy. After going back and forth with him on this for years, the best excuse he can give me is “but the environment!”. Because he’s seen how mass shipping ports get grimy and polluted.

… Pretty sure a few oil slicks would be pretty low on any Puerto Rican’s list of problems right now.


Well here is the issue: Trump has inherited a law, dating back to 1920 that NO POTUS has seen fit to change, kill or alter. On the surface I want to say kill it, but still waters can run deep (no pun intended) and before he takes action it might be wise to get some advice from DoJ or who ever is the Functional Proponent for this law.

Can we kill it or lift it and if so what are the ramifications? I want and answer and recommendation in 24 hrs.


It’s anti-capitalist anti-free market protectionism. It can be killed with impunity. It should be killed permanently immediately. However, it is in harmony with Donald Trump’s economics, which is not free market capitalism.

In this instance, how it hurts Americans is acutely demonstrated instead of being hidden among a variety chronic socialist disorders.


Oh dear God — it is literally cheaper for ranchers to ship their cattle by 747 then by shipping from Hawaii, because of the Jones act:

There are only 73 ships that are actually compliant with the Jones act today. They divide between them and set the price of all the shipping in non-contiguous areas of the U.S. The “national security” argument is complete bunk. It stagnates economies, kills entrepreneurs, and it make the cost of living for Alaskans, Hawaiians and Puerto Ricans far higher than it needs to be. End this protectionist BS already.


Even still, even the people who are affected by it refuse to comprehend basic economics:

“I’m sure there was some good intention and purpose for (The Jones Act) back then. But I would like to know one good reason that it is a good thing for Hawaii and its people today,” he says.

No way was there a good reason then. Whatever it was is the same as the reasoning now. The guy should recognize how crappy the law is and just call the spade a spade.

Returning to the story.

“Open competition is the remarkable motivator of the free market. Competition is healthy and brings better rates, services, productivity and innovation,” says Ken Schoolland, an associate professor of economics and political science at Hawaii Pacific University.

This QFT.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono adds, “Hawaii is at least 80 percent reliant on imported food. We’re hundreds of miles away from major shipping routes. Relying on foreign shippers that can easily decide a stop in Hawaii is not profitable, or who would charge us big fees to veer off their major routes, doesn’t guarantee that our hotels and shops have the food and goods they need to support our economy and communities.”

But then they would still have their American shippers. If they disappeared, and then foreign shipping companies decided not to serve Hawaii (all unlikely I should think), then there would be an unserved market with excellent opportunity for profit. Incentive would drive new shippers into business. These folks tell half the story all the time.

Hirono addresses the issue of higher shipping costs by saying, “If we want cheaper shipping and more competition, we should support reinvigorating our domestic shipbuilding and maritime industry and developing clean, affordable shipping fuel.”

Maybe a subsidy? Just how?

If the law was changed to allow foreign carriers, Hull speculates, these ships likely would not provide the same frequency of service, which is needed to keep local retailers fully stocked with goods. And, because Hawaii has a limited warehousing capacity, shortages of food and other goods would likely occur.

But why does Hull speculate this?

“If you changed the law, a new operator could come in with brand-new ships and operate a more efficient service,” says Hansen. “(The carriers) don’t want to be put in that position. But if you can’t build new ships, you’re going to go out of business anyway. So please stick your head in the sand.”

One reason the “national security” angle is BS.

Also, the coalition in Washington, D.C., that supports the Jones Act includes politicians from shipbuilding states, so changing that part of the act could endanger the coalition. In 2010, U.S. Senator John McCain helped introduce federal legislation that would have repealed the Jones Act, but the bill did not receive enough support in Congress to pass.
There’s some of that cronyism. Thank God politicians can run our economy better than we can!

McCain a capitalist? Well, maybe he can be since he represents a desert.

Even today, Big Island ranches must charter a weekly 747 out of Keahole Airport to get their cattle to the mainland because that’s cheaper than Jones Act shipping. There’s something wrong with that picture.”

While that shipping bit is really funny and terrible, why do Hawaiians send cattle to the mainland? Weird. Wonder what genius politician is behind that or, more optimistically, what solid free market incentive causes it.

But, Matson’s Hull says, “The Jones Act is responsible for thousands of American jobs in Hawaii. According to a recent study undertaken by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the Jones Act contributes 23,225 jobs to the state along with labor compensation of more than $1.1 billion annually.”

Does he really think those jobs go away without the Jones Act? How so?Guess that industry is too big to fail, but …

That’s of little comfort to the French Gourmet’s Novak, who, at the height of his business, employed 85 local workers.

Good grief…


WELL, YOU make a believer out of me. My guess is the Jones act is to benefit the Longshoremen UnionL

“About half of West Coast union longshoremen make more than $100,000 a year — some much more, according to shipping industry data. More than half of foremen and managers earn more than $200,000 each year. A few bosses make more than $300,000. All get free healthcare.”

KILL the Jones act now and forever!


My question is what is AS’s issue? Trump did waive the restrictions, but he studied the act which few knew about, so where is AS’s problem? In 1920 The American government was pressured to protect American shipping to All American ports, after WW1. It was never Trump’s fault, but the liberal media makes it so.


AS, how are you so completely sure about everything you write?


It should have been a no-brainer, but it wasn’t. Why is it just for 10 days? Puerto Rico’s going to be recovered in 10 days? The American fleet will be able to keep prices at appropriate levels after that? I don’t think so. It should be repealed permanently. I’m glad that Trump did the right thing. He’s done a number of things right. He’s made some excellent appointments. He’s still a protectionist, and he shouldn’t be. All the reasons for waiving the Jones Act right now are reasons to waive it forever. It is the argument against his protectionism, but that’s the one position he seems to have held consistently in public for almost 40 years.

I’m not the liberal media. Don’t know if the liberal media are blaming Trump for the Jones Act. It would be surprising and silly to do so. Do you have a link where the liberal media are blaming Trump for the Jones Act? Or just not waiving it? Funny that the liberal media want it waived. Waiving it is an actual free-market capitalist position.


He waived it for 10 days. That’s it. The recovery is going to take months, and DHS on its own, as written in the law, will not offer waivers simply for lowering costs, and it’s ******** nuts.

He’s not going to attack it as policy, he’s not going to urge Congress to repeal it, because it squares with the very protectionist rhetoric he employs.

My claim there comes from the article, and it adds up with my own experience from when I lived in Alaska.

$10 for a hamburger, in 1996. The more trained on economics I became, and the more I saw in analysis that cargo shipping is actually cheaper than trucking, the less and less sense this made sense to me. Now I get it:

It all comes together.


The Jones Act was put in place for one reason only–to “protect” America’s Merchant Marine from foreign competition…period. America’s “Merchant Marine” barely exists today–with a mere 74 or 75 American-registered vessels plying the seas.


Then hire them directly into the Gov’t, and quit holding shipping lanes hostage.

Neither me, nor any Alaskan is your exclusive cash cow, NO.

You don’t see them doing this for Air lift; we contract out to Ukrainian Antonovs All the goddamn time!

Airlines aren’t required to have American-made planes, or American crews. Nor are truckers, nor are rail companies, all of which haul around the military just the same as the ships at sea!

This a double standard, and it doesn’t hold up to the barest scrutiny. 73 ships is a pitiful force, and shows that the policy is a failure; maintained solely for the greedy parties who uphold it. They are in the wrong, period.


Where did you get the idea that I FAVORED the Jones Act??? I just explained what it was FOR when originally enacted.