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The Jones Act
Old 06-15-2010, 04:08 PM   #1
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The Jones Act

A few years ago I read Alaska by Mitchner and learned of the Jones Act (1920). I saw the act in action when the Holland American cruise ship that I traveled on from Alaska (non-American crew) was required to dock at Vancouver rather than Seattle. As I recall it's a union protection measure that was instituted to help American maritime businesses.

I had given it little notice until I ran across this recently~

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From a transcript released by the White House of the daily press briefing with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, we learn that some of the best dredgers and skimmers from countries like Belgium, The Netherlands and Norway are being kept away from clean-up efforts in the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico because of the Jones Acta protectionist law that requires vessels working in US waters be built in the US and be crewed by US workers.

Waivers to the Jones Act were granted by the administration of George W. Bush in the days following hurricane Katrina. And today, the Obama White House said waivers might again be considered. If there is the need for any type of waiver, that would obviously be granted, said White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.
"The Jones Act" of 1920 - We don't have Dutch skimmers because of the Jones Act - Democratic Underground


I find it interesting that old laws can still produce unintended consequences 90 years later. Wonder what's taking so long to grant the waiver?
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Old 06-15-2010, 04:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
I find it interesting that old laws can still produce unintended consequences 90 years later. Wonder what's taking so long to grant the waiver?
Probably political sensibilities, and since it's not really related to retirement issues, I'll leave it at that.
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Old 06-15-2010, 05:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
A few years ago I read Alaska by Mitchner and learned of the Jones Act (1920). I saw the act in action when the Holland American cruise ship that I traveled on from Alaska (non-American crew) was required to dock at Vancouver rather than Seattle. As I recall it's a union protection measure that was instituted to help American maritime businesses.

I had given it little notice until I ran across this recently~


"The Jones Act" of 1920 - We don't have Dutch skimmers because of the Jones Act - Democratic Underground


I find it interesting that old laws can still produce unintended consequences 90 years later. Wonder what's taking so long to grant the waiver?
The Jones Act is just one manifestation of a far older concept of Cabotage that dates back at least 500 years. It comes more from protectionism in general than from union activities...though unions would general favor restriction of Cabotage.
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:02 PM   #4
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I don't think that the above is the case at all...

Remember the Gulf War?? Jones Act vessels can be 'drafted' by the military. For this risk the US gov helps pay for the construction of the boat in the USA. This keeps US ship builders alive. Shipyards are critical to the existance of the US Navy but the Navy doesn't build enough ships to keep the industry going. To 'encourage' the construction of Jones Act ship a law was passed to prohibit non-Jones Act ships from calling on two US ports in a row.
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:53 AM   #5
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The Jones Act also keeps foreign cruise lines (like NCL) from totally monopolizing the Hawaii inter-island cruise industry.

So NCL came up with an itinerary including a 600-mile dash to Kiribati, which totally jumpstarted that atoll's economy.

NCL finally obtained an exception to the Jones Act allowing them to bring foreign-built/flagged ships to the inter-island cruise itinerary (without the Kiribati run) as long as they hired an all-American crew and abided by American labor laws. And that's where the trouble started-- it turns out that NCL is accustomed to working its international crews to much harsher standards than American labor laws. Their American-crewed ships did a terrible job for many months with high turnover before things began to settle out.

It's going better now, but they're down to just one ship making seven-day interisland cruises. I'm not sure how Kiribati is doing...
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:21 PM   #6
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I think the US gov't does that kind of thing with a lot of industries. I have heard (from reputable sources) that the normal, civilian mkt for ammunition isn't as big as the gov't's needs in time of war so the gov't buys ammo during peacetime and burns it in "deactivation furnaces." This keeps the mfgs in business and at a capacity they want. During a war, they shoot the ammo at the enemy instead of burning it. They sell the lead bullets and brass cases as scrap so they are completely wasting ALL of your money!

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Originally Posted by Brat View Post
I don't think that the above is the case at all...

Remember the Gulf War?? Jones Act vessels can be 'drafted' by the military. For this risk the US gov helps pay for the construction of the boat in the USA. This keeps US ship builders alive. Shipyards are critical to the existance of the US Navy but the Navy doesn't build enough ships to keep the industry going. To 'encourage' the construction of Jones Act ship a law was passed to prohibit non-Jones Act ships from calling on two US ports in a row.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
I think the US gov't does that kind of thing with a lot of industries. I have heard (from reputable sources) that the normal, civilian mkt for ammunition isn't as big as the gov't's needs in time of war so the gov't buys ammo during peacetime and burns it in "deactivation furnaces." This keeps the mfgs in business and at a capacity they want. During a war, they shoot the ammo at the enemy instead of burning it. They sell the lead bullets and brass cases as scrap so they are completely wasting ALL of your money!

Mike D.
Actually, in the case of the ammunition and the shipyards, we clearl;y get something for our money: an option on the ability to do what is needd when the chips are down. I might not like the fact that this is all in the name of war readiness, but I would not describe it as wasting money.
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:48 PM   #8
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The issue with the Jones Act ships during the Gulf War is that many operators could not (would not) make their ships available.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:37 AM   #9
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To 'encourage' the construction of Jones Act ship a law was passed to prohibit non-Jones Act ships from calling on two US ports in a row.
Here's the kicker, they are still prohibited form doing this, unless Customs and Border Protection signs off on the request to go coastwise. How difficult is it to get them to sign of? It is actually very easy all the ship's agent has to do is ask the Customs and Border Protection Officer for permission and provide a couple forms filled out. Then the officer must stamp and sign the forms and permission is granted. It is done so routinely now that the congress might as well get rid of portions of the law.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:01 AM   #10
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Reality about the effectiveness of the Jones Act ships for military use set in during the Gulf War, the ship owners weren't forthcomming and the Gov wasn't willing to arrest the ships. In fact I thnk many avoided comming in to US ports during the window of time when they could be of use. At least that is what I heard from my son who was then at CMA.
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