Shipping: Breach in the Dike

A squat little Japanese freighter, the Taian Maru, churned through the Pacific last week on a historic journey. On its way from Coos Bay, Ore., to Puerto Rico with a load of Pacific Northwest lumber, the Taian Maru is the first foreign flag ship in more than four decades to carry cargo from one U.S. port to another.

Since 1920 the Jones Act, designed to preserve the U.S. coastwise fleet so that it will be available during national emergencies, has awarded all trade between U.S. ports to American ships, regardless of the higher cost to U.S. shippers. The consequences...

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