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10 ways to revitalize the U.S. merchant marine.

The merchant marine has been in decline in the United States since World War 2. If we believe that a strong merchant marine is necessary for national defense as well as domestic and international trade, then reversing this trend is necessary.

    1. The USMCA (or TPP or any other trade agreement) should include a clause that all goods shipped between the signatories must be carried by ships owned and operated by citizens of the signatory countries

    2. The government should offer free college education to merchant marine officers.

    This would be similar to how the Army offers free college education to ROTC officers who commit to at least five years of service after graduation.

    3. A modern version of the "Jones Act" (which requires US-flagged ships for all domestic shipping) should be passed.

    The original Jones Act was passed in order to support the fledgling domestic shipping industry in World War 1 when it appeared that German ships would take over the industry if we didn't support it.

    4. Give incentives for domestic shipping companies to merge and consolidate into larger entities so they can compete with foreign companies.

    For instance, UPS and Fedex merged but there's no reason why a merger between a few smaller U.S. shippers couldn't happen as well.

    5. Make it easier for foreign companies to set up operations in the US so they can compete with us on shipping within our borders.

    For instance, Amazon has its own fleet of trucks now but why can't Alibaba set up its own fleet of ships here? This would make it more difficult for Amazon to raise prices since their costs would go up as well.

    6. Invent new technologies that make shipping faster, cheaper, safer, etc

    For instance, hyperloop technology could dramatically reduce shipping times between major ports like LA and NYC (where 90% of all containers pass through)
    It could also reduce costs since you wouldn't have to build out as many ports along the way since you could travel such long distances in such short time periods (compared to traditional ocean freight)

    7. Create a national network of charging stations for electric trucks that will allow them to compete directly with diesel trucks in terms of cost per mile traveled and safety/cleanliness/etc

    It's estimated that an electric truck can do about 80% of what a diesel truck does but costs only 10% as much due to lower maintenance costs (no oil changes), less weight (electric motors are lighter than engines), etc

    This is already happening but an incentive program from the government could help accelerate this trend further
    Again, this would make it harder for Amazon or anyone else who relies on heavy duty trucks for their business model because suddenly those trucks are going from $100k each down closer to $30k each if they are electric and don't require any fuel at all (and again, travel longer distances without having to build out charging stations along every route)
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