Depending on whom you ask, The National Defense Resources Preparedness Order signed by the President on Friday is either a sign of a coming dictatorship, or it is nothing more than reauthorizing the Defense Protection Act of 1950.
Even if it is harmless in intent, it is jarring that a President can sign an order making him the sole dispenser of all resources in the nation. And yes, he would have control over pretty much everything. And even if it is nothing more than a bit of legislative housekeeping that has been going on since the Cold War it does raise some interesting 10th Amendment Issues.
Granted, it may be part and parcel of how the U.S. has done business for the last 60 years and we may only be finding out about it because the digital age throws open the door on a whole host of things heretofore unknown by the voting public. But it does beg the question: does one branch of government really need all that power?
Just because we’ve been doing things that way since 1950 does not make it a sound principle of government, no matter what party is parking their stretch limos at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.-Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
After all, what constitutes an emergency? And of what size must that emergency be before the Executive Branch can begin directing what happens to food, water, livestock, or as one line states: “Upon such approval, the Secretary of the resource department that made the finding may use the authority of section 101(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(a), to control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market.” What are the criteria that will allow a cabinet member to control distribution of a product or service?
Now I am not saying that the need for such an order would never arise, it may well. There could be any number of attacks or catastrophes that might merit such an intervention. But are there safeguards in place to prevent an unmerited intervention? Who ultimately makes the decision to hand so much power over to the Executive Branch? Where are the checks and balances that make certain that no one branch exercises its will over another?