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Letter for Saturday, October 10, 2020

Let’s talk about the Jones Act

In Other Voices on Oct. 4, an article written by Keli‘i Akina, Ph.D., insisted that Hawai‘i has been taken to the cleaners by the Jones Act, which is stripping the state of over a $1.2 billion a year and causing over 9,000 lost jobs.

For those who weren’t satisfied enough by the loss of U.S. jobs due to NAFTA, then you will love repealing the Jones Act and giving our shipping contracts to the lowest foreign bidder, instead of U.S. companies. The Jones Act requires ships to be built in the U.S., owned and crewed by at least 75 percent U.S. citizens, if they are shipping between U.S. ports.

It is unconscionable that Akina goes so far as to claim the Jones Act is causing us lost jobs. In going to his Grassroots Institute of Hawai‘i site to see exactly where he got his bloated figures for his claims of what the act is costing Hawai‘i, there was nothing but claims based on no facts whatsoever.

Shipping is a small fraction of the costs of buying goods in Hawai‘i. The cost of goods in Hawai‘i has historically been high because, as an isolated state, consumers were trapped. More recently, a few big-box stores and internet shopping has helped to reduce that somewhat.

But for those who would rather pay the lowest bidder to build, own and crew shipping in our waters, then you will be happy to believe this claim and instead pay shipping costs to China, Indonesia, UAE, Taiwan or any other country who will not pay a living wage, and would leave us with no guarantee that our goods will become even noticeably cheaper.

Until we get an independent, in-depth study done on the costs and benefits of shipping, with and without the Jones Act, rhetoric is not enough reason to suggest repeal of the Jones Act which ensures U.S. jobs for U.S. workers.

Paulo Tambolo, Wailua Homesteads
Source: The Garden Island

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