According to the White House press release, President Barack Obama signed an executive order called National Defense Resources Preparedness. It's based upon the Defense Production Act of 1950 which is supposed to allow the nation to mobilize industry and resources for the defense of the nation.
This new executive order, however, does so much more. This order applies not just to times of war, but in times of peace as well:
The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.
It also states that the powers of the act apply during non-emergency times, giving the government the ability to dictate to companies what purchase orders they fulfill and when:
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.
The executive order gives the government the ability to "control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market." The government can also decide to force production of certain items and then stockpile them - if creating stockpiles is determined to be necessary for 'national defense.'
What this executive order does, essentially, is create the format for peacetime martial law. The order says 'preparedness' and includes numerous references to 'peacetime' actions. It gives the government the power to seize, use and stockpile food (raw and produced), livestock, fertilizer, farm equipment, any and all forms of energy, all civil transportation - including private vehicles, boats, planes, and any other material it deems 'necessary' for the nation's defense in both emergency and non-emergency conditions.
If the government decides that construction equipment is needed somewhere - they have the authority, under this order, to mandate the production of such equipment. If the producer's facility is not sufficient for the production need, they can mandate the expansion of the facility and provide loans (at their own set interest and repayment rates) for the expansion. Can you say Solyndra?
They can also install government-owned equipment in private facilities to meet their government-determined production needs.
All this they can do in order to not just meet the needs of a national emergency - but to 'prepare' for any such emergency. Of course, the government itself gets to decide what is 'necessary' and 'appropriate' in order to meet future national defense needs.
Think about it...under this order Pres. Obama could 'determine' that the nation needs sufficient energy needs in case of an emergency. This order would allow the government to mandate to electric supply companies that they restrict your use of an air conditioner in the summer in order to ensure that an 'appropriate' amount of energy is available for any potential emergency that might arise.
This order gives the government the authority to determine what foods are produced and stored. And it gives the government the authority to dictate to farmers what food they will plant and grow - and whether or not the food will be sold or stored.
The government could decide that transportation out of hurricane areas is a part of the national defense of the nation. They could, under this order, mandate the confiscation of all privately-owned vehicles and use them to move people out of the path of hurricane. What's more, they could, in the 'preparation' of such a use, require registration and tracking of all such vehicles so that they would know where they are when needed.
You may think this is ridiculous and no president would go so far. But then, I never expected that any government would install cameras throughout a city in order to monitor its residents.
Some - if not all - the provisions in this order and the act upon which it is based may be prudent and necessary in wartime. Many say this is just an update of previous executive orders which contained similar language and authority. Others will say that such an order is fine when issued by a president they like - but not okay when done by a president they don't.
For me, I believe that when the government expands their defense authority to peacetime and non-emergency situations, it has gone too far. I think the government has gone too far in many things, but this order is the equivalent of a peacetime martial law - or a communistic form of government where the government is in control of everything, including the private sector economy, though in this case, they'd claim it was for 'national defense.'
This type of order from this particular President of the United States scares me - primarily because too many of my fellow citizens will look at it and say, 'sure - that makes sense ... let's just let the government do whatever it determines in order to keep us safe.' But these are the same Americans who have overlooked other infringements of their liberties by this President and Congress simply because of political party affiliation. As Ben Franklin said:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
This is the same logic which has us removing our shoes and taking Kleenex out of our pockets so some person in a hidden room can view our naked bodies via a scanner before we board a plane. It is the same 'logic' that presumes our desire to fly in a plane is probable cause enough for a search of our persons. It is the same 'logic' that says the owner of a vehicle photographed running a red light is the guilty party and the only way for that owner to prove their own innocence is to produce the person who was, in fact, driving, regardless of any other evidence that proves the owner could not have been the driver.
And since we're so afraid why shouldn't the government be given complete control over everything so it can be 'prepared' - even if there is no war?
What was it that Joseph Mengele said?
"The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it."