Cato Jones Act Criticism Prompts Industry Backlash
From Jones Act Gazette, Cato Foundation, September, 2019
For over a year the Cato Institute has been highlighting the costly failure that is the Jones Act—and backers of the law have taken notice. In late July, John McCown, the former CEO and chairman of Jones Act carrier Trailer Bridge Inc., penned a column in maritime industry publication American Shipper accusing Cato of “analytical gobbledygook." Rife with half-truths and outright falsehoods, the piece largely centered around the alleged flaws of a report regarding the Jones Act's impact on Puerto Rico that was neither written nor published by Cato. For a debunking of McCown's error-ridden column, please see Cato's rebuttal published by American Shipper here.
Cato staff were not the only ones to notice the flaws in McCown's column. Michael Hansen, a maritime expert who serves as president of the Hawaii Shippers Council, published his own critiques which can be found here and here (piece appears about halfway down the page). The actual author of the report McCown used as the basis for his Cato criticism, meanwhile, also took to American Shipper to raise his own objections.
This episode was not the only evidence of the Cato Institute getting under the Jones Act lobby's skin. Evidently smarting over Cato's billboard campaign that encouraged motorists to visit BlameJonesAct.com, the American Maritime Partnership—a pro-Jones Act advocacy group—registered BlameJonesAct.org which directs visitors to its own website.
The Jones Act lobby is concerned that evidence of the law's failure is attracting increased attention. We will continue to press the case for reform.