Walter E. Williams
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When Thomas Paine said, "(G)overnment, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one." He added that when it's self-inflicted, "(O)ur calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." The Gulf of Mexico disaster has been made worse because of Washington acts similar to Great Britain's tyrannical acts that caused our founders to rise up in rebellion in 1776. Let's look at it.

The Navigation Act was that name given to laws that regulated trade and commerce between Great Britain and its colonies. First enacted in 1651, and often amended, the law stipulated that no merchandise was to be carried to Britain or its colonies except by British ships built and manned by British subjects. The act stifled American manufacturing, increased the cost of goods and gave rise to smuggling and increased resentment against the mother country. The purpose of the mercantilist Navigation Act was to protect and enrich British interests.

You say, "Williams, the history lesson is nice but what does it have to do with the Gulf oil disaster?" Foreign companies, with extensive successful experience in oil spill cleanups, have offered their services but have been refused by Washington. Why? A Coast Guard spokesman said that Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian vessels are being barred from the Gulf region because they "do not meet the operational requirements of the Unified Area Command." That's another way to say that the 1920 Jones Act, a protectionist law not unlike Britain's Navigation Act, requires vessels working in U.S. waters be built in the U.S. and be crewed by U.S. workers.

Glenn Beck

James Carafano, researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said, "The unions see it as ... protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived, and they pound on politicians when they do that." Carafano asks, "So are we giving in to unions and not doing everything we can, or is there some kind of impediment that we don't know about?" President Obama has the power to waive the Jones Act to allow foreign vessels and crews to bring their expertise to the Gulf cleanup, but he fears angering American labor unions.

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Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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