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Keeping up with the Jones Act

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  1. Capt. Ed Enos

    For better or worse, the JONES ACT is a “Policy” first, supporting America’s security by providing sealift capability to our military forces in times of PEACE and war. Most people have no idea how much cargo is moved for the DoD on civilian hulls every day. As an active working Harbor Pilot, I do. I’m aboard those ships daily here in Honolulu, Hawaii. MATSON and PASHA/HORIZON LINES bring in thousands of tons of cargo into my island home each day. Much of it is for US military bases here in Hawaii. How else does the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard get their equipment, spare parts, and vital components to their war machines? Most people think the Navy brings ‘cargo’ into Hawaii. No, they do not. They never have. We, civilian merchant mariners, do aboard civilian hulls, built in US yards. Why on earth should we choose to “outsource” yet another industry to Asia? Will we rely on other countries to build our future Naval platforms? Yes, the Jones Act might have some faults that should be addressed now. But the direction should be to LOWER the cost of production for US yards from penalizing regulations and taxes that INCREASE our costs. Shouldn’t we as a Nation look to improving our own industries FIRST to remain competitive in the global market? Why is handing over more shipbuilding to China a positive thing for Americans? Finally, as a resident born and raised in Hawaii, I loathe the constant whining of Puerto Ricans and their complaints about the Jones Act. They’re in the economic condition they are due to their own gov’t corruption, as we see right now. Who were the first people to jump in ‘post-hurricane’ and bring relief and aid when they needed it most? CROWLEY and TOTE, two US Flag cargo carriers committed to their Jones Act trades. If the cost of non-US flag carriers would mythically be so much cheaper, why does Hawaii consistently have the highest-priced energy in the nation??? I bring in tankers that are foreign-owned, foreign-manned, from foreign countries in SE Asia all the time. They are carrying raw crude or refined products, to anchor or to their berths. Yet, SOMEHOW we still have the highest-priced gasoline (and energy) in the nation. Tell me again how foreign flag ships carrying cargo will “automatically” ensure a guarantee of lower retail prices for consumers. Is that because the Chinese shipowner is a nice guy and feels sorry for us? It might look great on paper in all these apples to oranges comparisons. But “reality” is quite different.

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Trevor Willingham

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