I have been writing in support of the Jones Act for many years, long before the El Faro tragedy. My arguments are well-known and have never been refuted by any reputable commentators.
The main proponents of a repeal of the Jones Act are political special interest groups or politically connected and funded front groups who seek to enrich their backers at the expense of U.S. national security and the U.S. maritime industry. The arguments for a repeal of the Jones Act aren't only wrong - they are dangerous. And immoral. They are dangerous to both our national security and our economic security. The arguments also put human lives at risk.
The main argument against the Jones Act come down to one thing and one thing only: Money. However, people are far more important than money. And U.S. security and economic prosperity are far more important considerations than the "bottom line," at least for most decent people.
Recently, some of these groups have gone too far. For instance, The National Review, once a magazine of robust ideas and debate, has published an article advocating a repeal of part of the Jones Act, in particular the provision that requires that vessels moving goods or passengers between American ports be American-built. The National Review wants foreign-built and foreign-crewed ships to basically take over, as they undoubtedly will, because the U.S. maritime industry cannot compete with cheap shipbuilders building ships manned by cheap, unskilled labor. The U.S. maritime industry would not be playing on a level playing field. But the advocates don't care about human beings as long as they can save a little money.
Having been unable to make much ground in their efforts to repeal the Jones Act, the commentators are now trying to connect the El Faro tragedy with the Jones Act. This is bad reasoning, entirely premature in any event, and is immoral.
I am reminded of a quote during the McCarthy era, when lives and careers were ruined by false claims of Communist sympathy. It applies to efforts to connect the El Faro tragedy and the Jones Act: "Have you no decency? At long last, have you no decency?"
So let's get one thing straight once and for all: The Jones Act did not sink the El Faro. Any argument that the El Faro tragedy is the result of the Jones Act is complete and utter nonsense. And anyone who uses a tragedy like the El Faro incident to justify a political position should be ashamed.
We can have debates on the Jones Act (although I think it is crystal clear that the benefits far outweigh any perceived problems, and, as I've written before, I think the money arguments are dead wrong too).
But do not use the loss of 33 lives in an effort to push a political agenda.
People are more important than money. It's long past time for these Jones Act critics to recognize this simple fact and stop using tragedies to support their political agenda, or, alternatively, that we all fight back hard against these callous groups who want everything to be about money, even at the expense of human life.