This opinion article originally appeared in the Vicksburg Post on July 21, 2021.
By Austin Golding
Spending the Fourth of July with friends and family gave me a chance to reflect on many of the things that make this country great. American independence is not a given, but rather something we have to cherish and defend. From the hotdogs and hamburgers to the gas in the grill, the Fourth of July celebration, like every other day of the year, is dependent on the health of our supply chains — and their importance, and fragility, are more evident than ever.
When the Mississippi Senate passed Senate Resolution 25 and the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 63, our lawmakers were indeed recognizing the importance of safeguarding our domestic supply chains. Led by Senator Briggs Hopson and Representative Kevin Ford, these resolutions affirmed Mississippi’s support for the Jones Act, the federal law that underpins America’s domestic maritime transportation industry.
The Jones Act guarantees that every bit of cargo moved on domestic waters between two U.S. locations is on a vessel built in American shipyards, owned by American companies and manned by American mariners. Both resolutions recognize the Jones Act as an integral part of America’s independence. Thanks to the Jones Act, we do not have to rely on foreign governments, foreign ships or foreign crews to put groceries on the shelves, cool our homes or fuel our cars. Thanks to the Jones Act, the hard work of Mississippi mariners and the high standards of Mississippi shipyards guarantee that American commerce keeps moving, and does so safely.
Security is a vital part of American independence, and these resolutions recognize the Jones Act’s role in keeping our ports and waterways safe against hostile foreign actors. Whether on the Mississippi, the Tenn-Tom or Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, American mariners are the eyes and ears of our waterways. Without the Jones Act, we would have to rely on ships with foreign allegiances and crews from all over the world to care about keeping our communities safe and supplied.
These resolutions also recognized the significant impact the Jones Act has on Mississippi’s economy. Mississippi has over 13,000 maritime jobs, and because of the Jones Act, those jobs are not going anywhere — they are going to stay right here in Mississippi, providing more than $728 million in annual income that goes into the pockets of American families and gets spent in our communities. The Jones Act means economic opportunity, serving as the foundation for Mississippi’s maritime industry, and positioning those who work in it to take care of themselves and their families in the course of sustaining others throughout the United States.
Senator Hopson, Representative Ford and those who cosponsored these resolutions deserve thanks and recognition. In passing them, Mississippi is showing the rest of the country that we value the safety, security and opportunity that the Jones Act provides to all Americans. By proposing and adopting these resolutions, our legislature recognizes the importance of preserving that which makes America an independent nation.
So, with a renewed patriotic spirit and an eye to the future, I am thankful the Jones Act is here to preserve Mississippi and America’s domestic maritime industry. As the Jones Act celebrates its 101st birthday this summer, let’s be thankful for and celebrate those who help ensure it is here to stay.
Austin Golding is President of Golding Barge Line, based in Vicksburg.