Central Planning, Clarified

Last Friday, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order on “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” and it’s gotten no small amount of attention. It seems to commandeer the entire economy — pretty much anything the government needs — in cases of a presidentially (not congressionally) declared “emergency.”

The powers are vast.

The checks and balances, vague.

The whole thing is matter-of-fact, sporting that business-as-usual style we’ve come to know and . . . view suspiciously. A few clauses at the end of the document build up to a sort of finale of weirdness with this clarification: “This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.” It may be about “national security,” but the government has certainly protected itself. Against us.

Reasons for angst? Yes.

But the angst should not be conceived as new.

Economic historian Robert Higgs, writing for The Independent Institute, notes our long history of what he calls “fascist central planning.” Citing his own milestone work Crisis and Leviathan, he fingers warfare as the major rationale behind the centralization of power and industry. Under the Defense Production Act of the Truman Era, “the president has lawful authority to control virtually the whole of the U.S. economy whenever he chooses to do so and states that the national defense requires such a government takeover.”

It’s breathtaking. It’s sweeping. It’s almost ancient.

And it shows how important actual peace is to our freedoms, our property rights, our very lives.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar
    21
    10:35
    AM
    John F. Brennan

    War has always (unconstitutionally) benn used as an excuse to diminish personal freedoms, including the right to contract and the protection of private property. Post-war the rights usurped are never fully restored. The War on Terror, on Drugs, on Poverty are termed “wars” to allow the incursion of the government into protected rights for defense and security.
    Freedom has always been and shall remain expensive, both in treasure and blood.
    We are fools if we cannot see, and act to stop, this progression.
    As these “wars” are all based on a false premises, victory unattainable in a free society and they become everlasting. Therefore all of the rights lost in the “emergency” are never restored.
    What is “national defense” or “an emergency” and why, in its name, should the government attack its own citizens.
    The concept fiat sovereign immunity appears to me to have been addressed in the the First Amendment which stated Congress shall make no law preventing the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    The executive is to administer and enforce the constitutional laws of the United States as passed by the Congress, not usurp its powers and deny the citizens their guaranteed rights.
    If that right can be negated by a simple executive order, how is it there was ever a debate regarding the “weak executive”?
    Have we reached the point where we actually have a “king of a term”?
    I would hope that the other branches, and well as the States and citizens, will react swiftly and firmly to this self coronation.

  2. Mar
    21
    10:47
    AM
    Drik

    Now all he needs is a declared war.

  3. Mar
    21
    12:24
    PM
    Brian Richard Allen

    …. Economic historian Robert Higgs, writing for The Independent Institute, notes our long history of what he calls “fascist central planning ….”

    And why would he not so call our federal government’s administrative and judicial branches’ long history of accruing to themselves the kinds of DEFINITIVELY fascist central powers of which once-great Britain’s George the Three could not have begun to conceive?

  4. Mar
    22
    12:03
    PM
    Brian Wright

    Not so much that war is the health of the state, as war IS the state.

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