The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear

24 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2019

See all articles by Colin Grabow

Colin Grabow

Cato Institute

Inu Manak

Council on Foreign Relations

Daniel J. Ikenson

Cato Institute

Date Written: June 28, 2018

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the Jones Act by examining its history and the various burdens it imposes on consumers and businesses alike. While the law’s most direct consequence is to raise transportation costs, which are passed down through supply chains and ultimately reflected in higher retail prices, it generates enormous collateral damage through excessive wear and tear on the country’s infrastructure, time wasted in traffic congestion, and the accumulated health and environmental toll caused by unnecessary carbon emissions and hazardous material spills from trucks and trains. Meanwhile, closer scrutiny finds the law’s national security justification to be unmoored from modern military and technological realities. This paper examines how such an archaic, burdensome law has been able to withstand scrutiny and persist for almost a century. Lastly, this paper presents a series of options for reforming this archaic law and reducing its costly burdens.

Keywords: Jones Act, Infrastructure, Transportation, Costs

JEL Classification: G28, G38, F13

Suggested Citation

Grabow, Colin and Manak, Inu and Ikenson, Daniel J., The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear (June 28, 2018). Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 845, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3359786

Colin Grabow (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Inu Manak

Council on Foreign Relations ( email )

1777 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

Daniel J. Ikenson

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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