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Bad Laws

It is necessary for the national defense and for the proper growth of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine of the best equipped and most suitable types of vessels sufficient to carry the greater portion of its commerce and serve as a naval or military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, ultimately to be owned and operated privately by citizens of the United States; and it is declared to be the policy of the United States to do whatever may be necessary to develop and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine, and, in so far as may not be inconsistent with the express provisions of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall, in the disposition of vessels and shipping property as hereinafter provided, in the making of rules and regulations, and in the administration of the shipping laws keep always in view this purpose and object as the primary end to be attained.

That is the introduction of the Jones Act, passed over 80 years ago … and codified in 2006. At the time, the major implication of the law was to ensure the safety of American sailors – by not permitting foreign ships from making multiple stops in the United States. For example, if a ship carrying wool from London to New York wished to pick up some cargo in NY and then head to Baltimore, that last leg of the journey was not permitted. This in spite of the fact that direct passage from London to Baltimore was permitted.

So what?

This act, to ostensibly protect seamen from injury when working on their vessels, now is the same act that does not permit … foreign airlines … to have routes inside the United States. While it is perfectly permissable for Virgin Atlantic to fly from Healthrow to JFK, that same plane can not head down to Atlanta without first returning to London. And yes, flights from London to Atlanta are permitted.

If that’s what our current candidates continue to mean by “Putting Nation First” I don’t want any part of that Kool-Aid.

One Response to “Bad Laws”

  1. Michael says:

    I hear a lot of talk about the importance of this nation having jobs. I figure if that’s all they want, then we should ban buldozers and backhoes. (Based off a story I heard about a dam in China, I think.) This is a silly law that’s supposed to protect American jobs. Unfortunately, we can’t always see the real effects on our economy.

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