Cato Institute Project on Jones Act Reform

The Cato Institute seeks to raise awareness about the Jones Act and lay the groundwork for the repeal or reform of this outdated law.

Since 1920 the Jones Act has mandated that the sea transport of cargo between U.S. ports must be performed by vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S. flagged, and U.S.-crewed. Justified on national security grounds, the law was meant to ensure a strong maritime sector to bolster U.S. capabilities in times of war or national emergency. These envisioned benefits, however, have proved illusory while the Jones Act has imposed a very real and ongoing economic burden. Despite this, the law survives thanks to well-connected supporters and ignorance of the Jones Act and its costs by the general public.

The Cato Institute aims to shake up this status quo by shining a spotlight on the Jones Act’s myriad negative impacts and exposing its alleged benefits as entirely hollow. By systematically laying bare the truth about this nearly 100 year old failed law, the Cato Institute Project on Jones Act Reform is meant to raise public awareness and lay the groundwork for its repeal or reform.


Featured Work


The Jones Act
A Burden America Can No Longer Bear

For nearly 100 years, a federal law known as the Jones Act has restricted water transportation of cargo between U.S. ports to ships that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-registered, and U.S.-built. Justified on national security grounds as a means to bolster the U.S. maritime industry, the unsurprising result of this law has been to impose significant costs on the U.S. economy while providing few of the promised benefits. In this paper, Cato scholars Colin Grabow, Inu Manak, and Daniel J. Ikenson examine how such an archaic, burdensome law has been able to withstand scrutiny and persist for almost a century, and present a series of options for reforming this archaic law and reducing its costly burdens.







Multimedia

More on the Jones Act

Commentary

Alaska Lawmakers Must Get Serious About Jones Act Repeal

By Colin Grabow. The Hill (Online). October 10, 2018.

Duncan Hunter Should Stop Supporting the Jones Act and Sink This Rusted-Out Hulk of a Law

By Colin Grabow. Riverside Press-Enterprise. August 5, 2018.

No Truckers? Let’s Try Ships

By Colin Grabow. National Review (Online). July 26, 2018.

Cato @ Liberty

It’s Time to Put the Jones Act Under the Microscope

By Inu Manak. November 16, 2018.

The Jones Act Isn’t Working. Just Ask Its Supporters.

By Colin Grabow. October 23, 2018.

Another Jones Act Absurdity

By Colin Grabow. September 21, 2018.

Cato Studies

The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear

By Colin Grabow, Inu Manak, and Daniel J. Ikenson. Policy Analysis No. 845. June 28, 2018.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Does the Jones Act Endanger American Seamen?

Thomas Grennes. Regulation. Fall 2017.

America’s Welfare Queen Fleet: The Need for Maritime Policy Reform

Robert Quartel. Regulation. Summer 1991.

Events

The Jones Act: Charting a New Course after a Century of Failure

Featuring Daniel Griswold, Colin Grabow, Manuel Reyes, Bryan Riley, James W. Coleman, Jennifer Danner Riccardi, Ted Loch-Temzelides, Daniel J. Ikenson, Steve Ellis, Nick Loris, Robert Quartel, Christopher A. Preble, Keliʻi Akina, Thomas Grennes, Howard Gutman, Michael Hansen, Inu Manak, George Landrith, & Brett Fortnam. December 6, 2018. Conference.