Emergency power is something we identify with the two-bit banana republic dictators who regularly "suspend the Constitution" when faced with dissent. There everything becomes an emergency with the fate of the nation at stake -- like when when the Hilton will not let the Presidente use the premises for a conference (just nationalize the hotel).
In the U.S. it is not so easy to suspend the Constitution. More subtle measures are necessary to circumvent the charter developed by the founders. Yet it its done. The time proven measure to avoid Constitutional constraints is to argue that the Congress can do anything that is not expressly forbidden in the Constitution -- despite the fact that the 10th Amendment reserves to the states and the People all of the powers that are not expressly granted in the Constitution. The power granted the Federal government "to regulate commerce among the several states," originally intended to assure free movement of trade between the states, has morphed into the power to control all commerce, and commerce touches almost everything. And the Constitutional power to enact any laws "necessary and proper" to support the other powers granted by the Constitution has been used as the back door to justification for all sorts of legislation that has only an arguably tenuous connection to any power enumerated by the Constitution. Thus, rather than suspend the Constitution, Presidents and legislators alike simply argue that the Constitution authorizes their action. That is how they rationalize an omnipotent United States government.
Those in power realize that if they can enact legislation, it is especially difficult to repeal. And in the case of entitlements programs, it is well-nigh impossible to undo. Moreover, under today's Constitutional jurisprudence, it is even more difficult to get the legislation struck down in its entirety by the courts. The only real threat to the designs of omnipotent government here is opposition by the voters before legislation is enacted. And the way to avoid that threat is to treat the voters like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them cow manure), and to move fast before the voters realize what is happening. So, it is an emergency. Earth altering consequences will occur. Populations will be wiped out. The economy will be destroyed. The government is all-powerful; they should dooo something -- quick!
Here are some examples:
The Health Care Crisis:
One wonders why, after more than 200 years as a republic built on individual rights, we are just now realizing that government mandated health care is an "right"? Why, now, is it such an emergency that 15% of the economy needs to be set on the inevitable road to nationalization? Why is it such an emergency that Congressional leaders oppose giving Congressmen and the public 72 hours to read legislation before calling for a vote? Why was it such an emergency that the leaders of Congress strove mightily to ram through an unread 1000 page bill only a few days after its introduction?
The real emergency was that the Congress and the Administration all knew that if the American people had time to understand what was really being done to them, a majority of the voters (those whose wealth was being redistributed) would oppose what the lawmakers were doing. Fortunately, the tactics attempted by the Congressional leaders to eliminate due deliberation about health care legislation failed. And we now are beginning, after careful and public analysis, to understand the logical consequences of the legislation being proposed.
And who caused the so-called problems with the health care system in the first place? Who placed an army of bureaucrats and clerks between doctor and patient and caused the individual to become disconnected from the cost of his own care? Who is forcing hospitals to take people into their emergency rooms who will not pay? Who has allowed a legal system that encourages medical malpractice suits and causes doctors to take extreme and costly measures to protect their reputations?
The proponents of change do not appear to have studied the reality of the "high cost of health care" in the U.S. Some of the costs reflect beneficial contributions to the quality of health care (See "Health Care Mythology"). Perhaps as advocates for a certain result, they conveniently overlook these separate elements in the overall health care costs.
The proponents of global governance and those who see an opportunity to line their own pockets with a new government tax and bureaucratic system, have attempted to create a panic about global warming (now called climate change because no one could see any warming), rushing to draw conclusions from pseudoscience and theories about data that support a variety of conflicting conclusions, none of which seem to establish scientifically that reduction of industrially-created carbon dioxide will have any significant influence to cause the climate to remain the way it is now. The viciousness with which scientists who disagree with the proposed government control are attacked smacks of postmodernist tactics, which are used when a proponent knows he cannot prove his case by civil discussion and debate.
The Credit Crisis
You have read enough on this blog and its links to the commentaries of others to know that the so-called credit crisis is a circumstance that was caused by The Creature from Jekyll Island and other monsters and policies created and imposed by the Federal government, described in detail here. The debacle which the Bush Administration predicted would happen unless they were given a blank check to bail out anyone without oversight was one that should have been allowed as a catharsis to purge the financial system of toxic assets and practices. Instead, we have zombie banks and a central bank that now has toxic assets on its own books, circumstances that guarantees low real economic growth for a decade or more. The "crisis," which was an economic event that should have been left alone to cure itself quickly, has instead been used to justify the nationalization of all sorts of private businesses.
The Next Crisis: The Swine Flu Pandemic?
To defend the right of individual citizens not to be subjected to outside exposure to disease, governments legitimately have a public health function. Part of the proper implementation of that function is to be a competent gatekeeper at the nation's borders. The U.S. government in the enforcement of its immigration laws has not been adequate. As in earlier cases like the bird flu, U.S. public health officials have taken the usual precautions thus far, even though U.S. Homeland Security has declared an emergency. A serious epidemic is always a possibility, and stringent public health measures, such as quarantine and government school closings might be necessary. But look out: the people populating the Obama administration are well schooled in the technique of capitalizing on real emergencies to expand government powers far beyond what is absolutely necessary to deal with the emergency and to integrate the new-found powers permanently into the fabric of government. [UPDATE 12/5/09: See Swine Flu Hoax Exposed:
The majority of the world's population refuses to take the swine flu vaccine. The climategate scandal and hacked emails proving that climate change is a hoax and the realization that those in power are totally corrupt and tyrannical has led to the massive awakening throughout the planet that has the scumbag elite shaking in their boots. People all over the world are shattering the left/right paradigm and realizing that both parties are controlled by the same corporate interests and the same global elite who have the objective for a totalitarian one world government. The people are waking up and reclaiming their individual sovereignty, freedom and taking back their own personal power refusing to sit idly by while their liberties are being stripped away day by day by those who consider us their slaves.
Examples from Earlier Times
From almost the beginning of the Republic a titanic struggle has been waged between those who wanted limited government and those who felt that government could make decisions for citizens better than the individuals could make for themselves. The people thought that the words in the Constitution would protect them; but history shows that eternal vigilance, not words on paper, is the price of liberty. Here are just two historical examples of significant power grabs in an emergency.
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution
The Congressional Resolution that effectively enabled Lyndon Johnson to undertake a war in Vietnam, was justified by the attack by 4 North Vietnamese patrol boats on a U.S. destroyer, which was damaged by "a single 14.5-millimeter machine gun bullet." No Declaration of War, as required by the Constitution, was ever passed by the Congress. Ultimately, over 58,000 American troops died in the conflict, which ended with the total withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.
FDR's Confiscation of Gold from All U.S. Citizens
From Confiscation and The Gold Clause:
"Even knowing that it actually happened, it still is almost unthinkable that the United States government would nationalize the personal assets of its citizens, give paper in exchange at 60% of the value of the assets - and book a profit. The public begrudgingly recognizes that the government can take private property as long as the taking is accomplished by due process (such as an eminent domain proceeding) and the owner receives just compensation. However, we expect those cases to be relatively isolated and infrequent. In 1933, the U.S. government devalued the dollar by 40% in less than eight months, but not before it ordered a docile population to exchange their gold for paper and banned gold ownership and transactions in gold to keep citizens from escaping the devaluation. The combined actions operated as a confiscation of the property of every citizen, all at once, with no compensation."
Apparently working behind the scenes with the Fed, knowing that he could very quickly secure the legal support from the Democrat Congress, he declared a bank holiday on March 6, 1933, two days after his inauguration. (Proclamation No. 2039). Three days later, without seeing the bill and with only 38 minutes of debate, Congress ratified the new President's Proclamation in the Emergency Banking Act, 48 Stat. 1, and amended section 5(b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act to read as follows:Since Thomas Jefferson first lost the debate with Alexander Hamilton over the use of the Necessary and Proper clause, it seems that, to a greater or lesser degree, there has been an unrelenting trend toward more government. It did not start with Bush or Obama. And it will not end without changing the prevailing attitudes of the voters who accept the role that the government has taken in our lives and the futility of changing that role. To do nothing is to join them.
(b) During time of war or during any other period of national emergency declared by the President, the President may, through any agency that he may designate, or otherwise investigate, regulate, or prohibit, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, by means of licenses or otherwise, any transactions in foreign exchange, transfers of credit between or payments by banking institutions as defined by the President, and export, hoarding, melting, or earmarking of gold, or silver coin or bullion or currency, by any person within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof; and the President may require any person engaged in any transaction referred to in this subdivision to furnish under oath, complete information relative thereto, including the production of any books of account, contracts, letters or other papers, in connection therewith in the custody of or control of such person, either before or after such transaction is completed. Whoever willfully violates any of the provisions of this subdivision or of any license, order, rule or regulation thereunder, shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $10,000, or, if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both; and any officer, director, or agent of any corporation who knowingly participates in such violation may be punished by a like fine, imprisonment, or both. As used in this subdivision the term 'person' means an individual, partnership, association, or corporation. [Emphasis added.]Thus, what was solely a wartime measure that many believed had expired was converted into a statute granting war time powers to the President in times of "national emergency," a term which was not defined in the law (and which, if such an emergency existed in 1933, itself had been precipitated by government mismanagement). This law identified a new "enemy" - domestic "hoarders" who would be subject to imprisonment for violating any rule laid down by the President at any future time during a period of national emergency declared by him based on undefined criteria. Professor Henry Mark Holzer's monograph "How Americans Lost Their Right To Own Gold And Became Criminals in the Process" catalogues the events of 1933, and more.