Tyranny And Emergencies

Dave Killion — February 12, 2013

I’ve written before about the astonishing powers the British Columbia government allots itself during ’emergencies’, but neglected to point out how common such legislation is. In fact, you can be assured that there is at least one level of government, either local, state/provincial, or federal, that maintains that under certain situations it is authorized to do, quite literally, anything to anyone. The latest storm to strike New England and the Maritimes provides a chilling example

” (Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick) signed an executive order banning traffic on the state’s roads as of 4 p.m. on Friday (February 8). The ban includes all roads, with exceptions for public safety officials, hospitals, utilities and others.

Kurt N. Schwartz, undersecretary for emergency management, said the law allows for penalties for motorists who violate the 4 p.m. ban on traffic, including a $500 fine and up to one year in jail.”

A spokesperson assured the public that enforcement would be flexible, reasonable, and would permit travel for ‘necessary functions’ when it is ‘safe to do so.’ There was no guidance on how that determination would be made.

The number of deaths attributed to the storm stands at nine, and I don’t know that any of those deaths are a result of the travel ban. However, I think it’s safe to conclude that many people went cold, hungry, and in need of aid or comfort because they were too frightened by what the government would do to them to dare exercise their right to travel. Happily, no other governors or premiers felt the need to flex executive muscle, but they most certainly could have. And when an emergency strikes your area, they just might.

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