Here is Akina's opinion piece: In the quote above, general and philosopher Sun Tzu of ancient China was writing about military tactics, but this piece of wisdom is equally valuable when it comes to understanding how contemporary lawmakers often react to campaigns for legislative reform. In essence: Put together a coalition of voices behind one cause and you instantly become "strong," worthy of attention.
All of which goes to explain the impetus behind the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i's recent webinar on the Jones Act. For this event, we brought together experts representing Hawai'i, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Guam to explain how the Jones Act makes life more difficult for those U.S. states and territories. The idea was to demonstrate the common bond that unites these outlying jurisdictions and foster a lasting relationship between them aimed at updating the Jones Act.
The webinar certainly revealed how the Jones Act creates special challenges, beyond just raising costs, for each area. In Hawai'i, we already know that the Jones Act costs the average family approximately $1,800 a year. However, Bob Gunter of Koloa Rum on Kaua'i provided insight on how the Jones Act is a burden for local business, too.
Gunter recalled that when his company first expanded its distribution to Australia, he wanted to ship his goods directly to the Land Down Under. But since there were no direct connections, he had to send his products eastward first to the U.S. West Coast. The trip to Los Angeles, he said, cost $6,000, while shipping it from LA to Sydney only cost $1,900.
Gunter said that as Koloa Rum has continued to expand, he has become convinced that the Jones Act is a, "major component of the costs that we incur for doing business here," and that it is an, "impediment to our continued growth and viability."
Representing Puerto Rico, Rafael Velez, president of Atabey Capital, explained that one study found that the Jones Act was equivalent to having a 7.2% tax on all of Puerto Rico's food and beverages. Meanwhile, almost 30% of the island's electricity is generated by liquid natural gas, yet Puerto Rico must import LNG from places such as Russia, since there are no Jones Act-compliant LNG carriers.
Then there is Guam, America's most remote territorial outpost, which is at least exempt from the U.S.-build requirement of the Jones Act. However, as Grassroot Scholar and Cato Institute policy analyst Colin Grabow explained, this significant exemption hasn't helped Guam as much as you might expect. This is because ships bound for Guam from the West Coast generally like to stop in Hawai'i first, rendering Guam's exemption moot, since all carriers traveling between the West Coast and Hawai'i must comply with all of the Jones Act's mandates.
In any case, Monday's webinar made it clear that Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam and Hawaii are natural allies in reforming the Jones Act. They all would benefit from increased competition and lower shipping costs. Even something as simple as modifying the U.S.-build requirement could make a difference, as the case of Guam has already shown.
During the webinar, Grabow noted that in Washington, D.C., the Jones Act debate is "asymmetrical." For the groups that benefit from the Jones Act, defending it is their highest priority. Meanwhile, those who are hurt by the Jones Act tend to treat it as one of several issues they care about. In order to move the needle in Washington, we need to demonstrate that there is a broad coalition of groups that care about reforming the Jones Act.
That's why events like this week's webinar are important. Hawai'i residents aren't the only ones who are paying extra to prop up the Jones Act. By allying with our friends in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam and elsewhere, we will finally be able to make Washington understand why it is time to update the act for the 21st century.
E hana kākou! (Let's work together!), concluded the Grasroot Institute leader.
|Learn about the soprano Ululani|
Photo from www.himusicfestival.com
Shoremount-Obra will also present a concert on Sunday, July 25 livestreamed from Pāhala Plantation House with Hawai'i International Music Festival. It's at 5:30 p.m. with limited in-person seating.
GOLF & MEMBERSHIPS for Discovery Harbour Golf Course and its Clubhouse: The Club offers Social Memberships, with future use of the clubhouse and current use of the pickleball courts as well as walking and running on specified areas of the golf course before 8 a.m. and after 3 p.m. to enjoy the panoramic