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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are Libertarians "Conspiracy Theorists" or Paranoid When it Comes to FEMA?

On Tuesday I reported some disturbing news in a post entitled "FEMA Camps Go Live in All 50 States." THL reader Dustin Richards (who is also a good friend of mine and one of my debate partners in high school) left the following reply:

Non causa pro causa, Wes.

I'm usually one of the first people in line to bemoan the habits of government overstepping it's bounds but this seems like borderline conspiracy theorism. Until there is a little more than just the temporal cercumstances these events share it might behoov us to exercise patience in our obsevation of the government before jumping to conclusions built firmly attop one the classic informal falacies

Is it fair? Do libertarian concerns about FEMA camps border on conspiracy theory? A lot of people on the outside, and maybe even some people on the inside of the libertarian movement might feel that way. Let me clarify that my concern is not over some intentional conspiracy in the sense that a bunch of corporate overlords and military brass are sitting in a room somewhere smoking cigars and cackling about locking up a million Americans in camps and letting them die in horrible conditions.

But make no mistake, I am very concerned and the nature and substance of my concern can best be summed up in my criticism of the recent, unprecedented, FEMA and DHS-coordinated, federal test of the Emergency Alert System:

Why should it concern you? I’m not suggesting that Mr. Obama and a group of wild-eyed global puppet masters are sitting around a table smoking stogies and stroking gray cats while cackling about their plan to control the airwaves in America. What I am suggesting is that history shows unequivocally that the centralization of power in the hands of a few is a process that seldom reverses course. Every new precedent, every new power that is exercised by an elite few, is seldom ever given back, and typically forms a foothold for the seizure of more power.

Every time the people of this country have given the Washington regime an inch, it has taken a mile. Study the history of any federal tax, regulation, war, agency, or program (especially the ones that were supposed to be only “temporary”), and then try to deny the historical veracity of this claim. Furthermore, history teaches that not only is radically centralized power seldom devolved and inclined to grow (along an exponential curve), but that it is abused, mismanaged, misused, and wielded in favor of the elite and powerful few who pull its strings, against the interests of the many weak, small, humble, and powerless. So why should we stand for Washington to exercise another unprecedented power?

If my suspicion of people with power seems paranoid to you, let me suggest that your trust of people with power is– in the very strongest sense I can possibly use these words– gullible and naive. If this overarching reason isn’t enough to incite misgivings about the upcoming test, let me share with you three more:

1. It’s illegal. As our republic is constituted, the federal government can only carry out actions that are specifically enumerated in the Constitution. All other actions are reserved to the states and the people. Any act of the federal government that is not specifically enumerated as a legitimate power for it to exercise is illegal. Now please search Articles I and II of the Constitution and tell me just where the power to shut down lines of communication is given to the President of the United States? To use FEMA (which was recently created by executive order) to disrupt the press is not only an overreach of power, but I would go so far as to say a possible violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

2. It’s immoral. Forcibly (and what does the government ever do that in the end, does not require force as the last resort to make it possible?) taking over so much private infrastructure and disrupting so much private, commercial activity is a violation of the property rights of those who own and hold a stake in that private infrastructure and its unobstructed use. The government does not own your television and it does not own the company that sends information to your television. As I argue above, it has no legal right to appropriate these things for its own purposes, and I’ll state furthermore that it has no moral right to do so. You can’t just use other people’s things. That’s grade school morality that children are taught in kindergarten.

3. It’s impractical. Does anyone really think the test will make America safer? Does anyone actually believe the premise behind it: that the centralized bureaucracy in Washington is capable of effectively responding to sudden national disasters and emergencies? Did FEMA save the day on 9-11, or did local police and firefighters? Ask the victims of Hurricane Katrina who waited for days for FEMA to simply bring them water whether they think FEMA is effective at what it does? Or examine the many number of blunders, missteps, and malfeasances in FEMA’s short history.

If anything frightens me more than being herded into a government camp by people who want to kill me, it's being herded into a government camp by idiots who want to help me during some major disaster.

Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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