Free Trade

Let's Scrap the Jones Act

A hundred-year-old protectionist law that makes traffic worse and goods more expensive.


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The Jones Act requires that any vessel sailing between American ports (including those in territories, such as Puerto Rico and Guam) must be American-built, American-owned, and manned by an American crew flying the American flag. Passed as part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 under the pretense of national defense—the claim was that the U.S. shouldn't be in a position of having to rely on foreign ships during wartime—the Jones Act is just a protectionist racket that drives up costs.

Despite "the absence of any measurable benefits, the Jones Act has persisted for nearly 100 years," said the Cato Institute in a 2017 report. Why? "The small number of beneficiaries, which primarily include domestic shipyards and some labor unions, are more powerfully motivated to preserve the status quo than are the far more numerous adversely affected interests in seeking its repeal."

Here's an idea: Let's scrap it!

Written and performed by Andrew Heaton
Produced and edited by Austin Bragg and Meredith Bragg
Music: Happy Happy Game Show by Kevin MacLeod