America needs help cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and we need it now! So why are we turning down assistance from thirteen other countries? Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations have all offered assistance to help with this tragedy. The Dutch in particular offered ships equipped with oil-skimming booms as well as help building sand barriers which would protect the delicate marshlands of the Gulf coast. Shouldn’t we be jumping at the offers for help?
We’re not. Why? Our government is claiming that the Jones Act of 1920 prevents them for accepting help from foreign countries. Also called The Merchant Marine Act, this law says that all shipping on U.S. waters needs to be done in U.S. flag ships built in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. This all sounds good under normal circumstances (it’s not as good as it sounds, but we won’t get into that). But right now is a not normal circumstance. We are dealing with a catastrophe here and we should be accepting whatever help we can get. In past emergencies this act has been suspended temporarily in order to address situations when we needed help, such as was done following hurricane Katrina. Why is our government not suspending it now? What’s your opinion? –Julie