Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another Good Reason for Sunset Provisions

An Executive Authority That Allows The Prez to Control Industry in Time of Peace - or "Emergency"

President Obama issued an executive order on March 16 of this year. It's called National Defense Resource Preparedness. It allows the president to control production of resources that the country needs for defense in peacetime and times of emergency. It utilizes an old Act of Congress called the Defense Production Act of 1950. And according to Hot Air, the authority goes back some 70 years (though not continuous prior to 1950) - and in recent years it was updated by Clinton and Bush - twice. So, Hot Air is not alarmed. is alarmed.
Advocates of the freedom philosophy have a dual concern: that the executive has virtually unchecked authority to declare an emergency and that in an emergency the private economy would be commandeered by government officers.
And I was alarmed when I read's article (a copy of Sheldon Richman's article on The Freemen).

This harkens back to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which was signed by Obama with the promise, through a signing statement, to never use military detention of U.S. citizens (on U.S. soil?). A promise is not legally binding for the president (because it's not a contract?), so Obama is not bound by his promise. And his successor is not bound by his signing statement. Any president can use military detention of U.S. citizens, if they are deemed connected with "terrorism" (whatever that is). That Act sounded like it needed a sunset provision. Which makes a hell of a lot of sense when you're talking about a form of law that is issued every year.

President Obama's Executive Order is not a sign of impending government takeover of every aspect of our lives. Though, I think we are far closer to that now than in 1950. But it is a sign of the rot within our government, and it gives the government a very easy avenue to declare an economy-related resource emergency at will.

Any law that protects our individual rights against any government intrusion is worth keeping around (e.g. H.R. 4269: Protecting Lawful Transportation of Firearms).  But the opposite is true for the Defense Production Act of 1950. Executive Order #13603: National Defense Resource Preparedness is another good reason why any law that empowers the government should have a sunset provision.

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