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The Editors

Still Playing Politics With U.S. Ports

The Jones Act survives only because of narrow commercial interests.
Where economic reason goes to die.

Where economic reason goes to die.

Photographer: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Who actually benefits from the Jones Act, the 1920 law stipulating that all maritime commerce between U.S. ports has to take place on ships that are built, owned and crewed by Americans?

The American Maritime Partnership, a lobbying group, will tell you that the act supports nearly half a million jobs and each year generates $10 billion in taxes and $46 billion in additional U.S. output. Even if you take these statistics at face value, they fail to allow for the jobs, taxes and output lost in the rest of the economy.