How to Prepare for Freedom in an Emergency : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

May/June 1999: Point of View


How to Prepare for Freedom in an Emergency by Deborah Moeller Deborah Moeller is director of publications at The Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based public policy research institute. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- A national emergency can be anything from a hurricane or earthquake to a world war. Crises like these are accompanied by fear and a feeling of helplessness, and the cry goes up from the public for "someone" to "do something." The entities that most often answer the call are state and federal governments. In the heat of the moment, we seldom ask whether they should.

In his 1984 book Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, Robert Higgs analyzed the way the federal government has expanded in size and scope as a result of periods of crisis. He described a "ratcheting effect" wherein the government expands significantly during a crisis, then shrinks down afterward, but never to quite as small a level as before the crisis.

My home state of Utah has not been exempt from this process. In the late 1920s, property taxes accounted for about 83 percent of the state's tax revenue, but by 1932, because of the Depression, the non-payment rate was up to 22 percent. As a result of this fiscal crisis, the legislature passed the "Emergency Revenue Act of 1933," which allowed the state to assess a sales tax of 0.75 percent on all retail purchases. Because this was only an "emergency" measure, the act included a provision for the termination of the tax. By the end of the summer of 1933, the legislature had repealed the provision for termination and upped the sales tax rate to 2 percent.

Why revisit these historical details now? Because new crises are always looming on the world's horizon: terrorism, the shaky global economy, nuclear proliferation, and global warming, to name a few. Any of these could serve as an excuse to expand governmental power. One of the most disturbing possible crises is the "Millennium Bug," also known as "Y2K," that will bite on January 1, 2000.

While it may not be necessary to expect a doomsday scenario in which the world is plunged into chaos, it is equally unreasonable, given the scope of potential problems and our general lack of preparation, to assume there will be no significant disruptions. Likewise, while we may not expect martial law, it is likely that expansion of power will be proposed as governments respond to crises if and when they arise.

Forms of martial law, as repugnant as they are, could become a reality in the case of a domestic emergency. Executive orders have been in place since the Kennedy administration to permit federal agencies to take control of food stores and food production facilities, energy production facilities, and transportation systems if the president declares a state of emergency. These orders were drafted out of concern about nuclear attacks, but they are also applicable to disaster scenarios.

More recently, in 1994, the Department of Defense issued a detailed directive on providing "military assistance for civil disturbances," in which civil disturbances are broadly defined as "insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions and circumstances." Such widespread federal involvement is rare, but it would not be without precedent in the twentieth century. What's more, according to Higgs' theory, even when the most draconian controls are lifted some federal expansion would remain in the form of limited rights or increased government spending.

The dominant factor in resisting this trend, Higgs writes, is ideology. If people do not believe it is appropriate for government to expand its powers for the sake of a crisis, they won't call on their representatives to do so. Even if they do, their representatives may not share that belief, and will resist the call. Such was the case in the 1890s with Grover Cleveland, who resisted pressure from the public to take the United States off the gold standard in the face of a severe recession.

Higgs warns that this will not be the case in the future. "We know that other great crises will come. When they do, governments almost certainly will gain new powers over economic and social affairs."

If a crisis should emerge, citizens will have to work to keep government in its place; if they do not, government power will balloon as it did during the Great Depression and two world wars. As an alternative, citizens would do well to concentrate on reasonable personal preparedness and voluntary support organizations like the Red Cross, churches, food banks, and shelters.

Above all, we should resist the ideological instinct to cry out to the government if Y2K or any other problem blossoms into genuine emergency.

-- OR (, June 30, 1999


My heart felt thanks OR. Really gives one reason to pause and take stock. NOT!!!


-- corrine l (, June 30, 1999.

corrine I think your stupid one liners would be more weclomed at DeBunky or GNBFI. Here you just come across like, well someone who resorts to one liners because they don't have anything better to say.

-- (, June 30, 1999.

thanks for advice der bingle. a penny for your thoughts. oops pennies are hard to come by. no prob, so are your thoughts.


-- corrine l (, June 30, 1999.

See also ...

FEMA--Federal Emergency Management Agency & Y2K--Revisited 0011Pe

QUESTION: What Does It Mean When A Presidential E.O. Declares A National Emergency? 000Wc6

And ...

The Governments Critical Infrastructure Protection Plans -- Presidential White Paper (Think Y2K -- Link From State Guard Association) 000X6G

-- Diane J. Squire (, June 30, 1999.

Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Retail companies, here and overseas, are among the best prepared for Y2K. Try telling that to the customers, though.

Stockpiling: the Real Y2K Threat

Stockpiling by a frightened public before the end of the year, according to the Financial Times, is emerging as a big concern.

The fear is particularly unsettling for supermarket food chains, reports the respected British financial and news journal. We are watching buying patterns closely in order to monitor customers actions, Peter Cox, I.T. systems director for Waitrose, a supermarket chain in the UK, told FT. To figure out what they will stockpile and when they will start.

Whats even more puzzling is that the industrys confidence in its preparedness to handle the Y2K bug is growing daily. Industry-wide initiatives have underpinned this, FT reports, by organizing those larger companies which have been well advanced in their preparations to share their information and experiences with less well-equipped groups and organizations. The Institute of Grocery Distribution, for example, has been running its Initiative 2000 program for over a year. Knowledge relating to Y2K by the organizations members has been pooled and disseminated. The IGD says that this has been of particular help to medium and smaller retailers.

Americans, far and away better prepared than any nation on earth, arent letting that stand in the way of a good panic. The Sacramento Bee reports of Nevada City resident Dennis Edwards, who has invested $17,000 on a survival kit for the new millennium. It includes a propane generator, a water tank, a greenhouse and some rabbits and chickens.

Edwards isnt a survivalist, but a normal, mild-mannered salesman who volunteers at the local health-food cooperative. According to the Bee, hes thinking about buying a gun, too. Im not crazy about the idea, but I have a family, said Edwards, a father of two.

Almost every informed observer and agency dealing with the Y2K problem acknowledge that unjustified public panic could well be worse than any technical glitches arising from the failure of some computer systems to read 00 as 2000 instead of 1900. Nightmare scenarios include runs on banks and supermarkets, and the Federal Reserve has authorized the printing of billions of extra paper notes to handle such craziness.

Waitrose used one of their stores in Chelmsford that was closing down to run a comprehensive year 2000 test on its in-store systems. The result, says Cox, was encouraging: We found the concern surrounding embedded chips, from our point of view, was overdone.

As will millions of other slightly sheepish stockpilers, no doubt.

-- cd (, June 30, 1999.

Ratchet - what a great way to view the process. And exactly right.

Those aren't crickets you hear, it's 'dem ratchets at work.


--Got Tools?

-- Greybear (, June 30, 1999.

Poor Mr. Edwards. Just another of the many described by THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES as, "Cowering in churches waiting for the World to end, determined to buy desert land and hoard gold, bullets and 'Skoal' in their pickup trucks." -OR- poses a good point. This 'leader' voted into office twice will be running the upcoming show. The suggestion is to avoid asking for assistance from the Big Kahuna himself. Why? because you will be wasting your precious breathe. Can we rely on the Big Kahuna to make judgement calls in the best interests of anybody but himself? Not likely. Will we cower in churches as he describes? Don't count on it Billy-Blow Job. What about the rest of America, caught off guard? Well, Billy boy, I suppose that all depends on just how *enraged* they become over your OBVIOUS lack of concern, empathy, responsibility, leadership, patriotism, ethics, comprehension, honor, trust, guidance, planning, protection, consideration, thoughtfulness, bravery, common sense, determination, enlightenment, quick thinking, valor, commitment, faith, respect, kindness, direction, morals, philosophy, pride, character, love, BUT MOST OF ALL, *honesty*.

In closing, it has been my observation that William Jefferson Clinton is an EGREGIOUS waste of human flesh that should be removed from this country of OURS. What does this tell us about the 'fabric' of our voting majority? That this country is in serious, trouble. It is a country of citizens just begging for a crisis, and crisis they shall have. My focus on helping the wounded clueless is waining with each passing day. They will have done this to themselves. My focus is on the rebuilding of a country, who's 'selfish and ungrateful' citizens have abandoned, every bit as much as their President has.

-- Will continue (, June 30, 1999.


-- Will continue (, June 30, 1999.

and a crackling, star spangled salute to you, you little buttered body of badacious bunting.

-- corrine l (, July 01, 1999.

Will continue,

Right on the mark!!! .....o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave. HUH? Who is he talking about? Patriot's, arise from your slumber and get ready for a fight.

-- preppin' hard (get re@dy, July 01, 1999.

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