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March 18, 2012

Why does this smack of "Atlas Shrugged"? [Fritzworth]

Drudge and Memorandum both had links to an executive order issued by Pres. Obama on Friday. It appears to have to do with delineating responsibilities among Cabinet members during times of emergency, so I chuckled in light of the mocking of the MSM over the efforts of various states (such as Wyoming) to do the same thing.

But then I read the following paragraph and wondered if there might be more to this directive than meets the eye. Note the highlighted language:


PART II - PRIORITIES AND ALLOCATIONS

Sec. 201. Priorities and Allocations Authorities. (a) The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

(b) The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions. Each Secretary shall authorize the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, to place priority ratings on contracts and orders for materials, services, and facilities needed in support of programs approved under section 202 of this order.

Haven't had time to analyze the whole thing yet, but that II.b clause gives me a bit of pause for thought, particularly talking about Cabinet secretaries issuing "regulations to prioritize resources" under "non-emergency conditions" in the name of "national defense".

For those of you who don't have the time or willpower to read Atlas Shrugged, let me give you a few quotes from that all-too-prescient novel. First, in response to the invention of "Rearden Metal", the creation of the John Galt railroad line between the East Coast and Colorado, and the subsequent relocation of businesses from the East Coast to Colorado:

The Union of Locomotive Engineers was demanding that the maximum speed of all trains on the John Galt Line be reduced to sixty miles per hour. The Union of Railway Conductors and Breakmen was demanding that the length of all freight trains on the John Galt Line be reduced to sixty cars.

The states of Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona were demanding that the number of trains run in Colorado not exceed the number of trains run in each of those neighboring states.

A group headed by Orren Boyle was demanding the passage of a Preservation of Livelihood Law, which would limit the production of Rearden Metal to an amount equal to the output of any other steel mill of equal plant capacity.

A group headed by Mr. Mowen was demanding the passage of a Fair Share Law to give every customer who wanted it an equal supply of Rearden Metal.

A group headed by Bertram Scudder was demanding the passage of a Public Stability Law, forbidding Eastern business firms to move out of their states.

Wesley Mouch, Top Co-Ordinator of the [Federal] Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources [think: Tim Geithner at Treasury], was issuing a great many statements, the content and purpose of which could not be defined, except that the words “emergency powers” and “unbalanced economy” kept appearing in the text every few lines. (p. 299)

And as the country is falling apart later on:

Six weeks ago, Train Number 193 had been sent with a load of steel, not to Faulkton, Nebraska, where the Spencer Machine Tool Company, the best machine tool concern still in existence, had been idle for two weeks, waiting for the shipment — but to Sand Creek, Illinois, where Confederated Machines had been wallowing in debt for over a year, producing unreliable goods at unpredictable times. The steel had been allocated by a directive which explained that the Spencer Machine Tool Company was a rich concern, able to wait, while Confederate Machines was bankrupt and could not be allowed to collapse, being the sole source of livelihood of the community of Sand Creek, Illlinois. The Spencer Machine Tool Company had closed a month ago. Confederated Machines had closed two weeks later.

The people of Sand Creek, Illinois, had been placed on national relief, but no food could be found for them in the empty granaries of the nation at the frantic call of the moment — so the seed grain of the farmers of Nebraska had been seized by order of the Unification Board — and Train Number 194 had carried the unplanted harvest and the future of the people of Nebraska to be consumed by the people of Illinois. “In this enlightened age,” Eugene Lawson had said in a radio broadcast, “we have come, at last, to realize that each of of us is his brother’s keeper.” (p. 911)

I am not a paranoid man by nature, and I firmly believe in checks and balances and in the Syrup of Ipecac theory of political dynamics. But I think this executive order -- part of a Friday night document dump (and pre-St. Paddy's day, at that) -- is worthy of more careful scrutiny. ..fritz..


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posted by Open Blogger at 10:00 AM

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