Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is This Really a "National Emergency"?

Obama declares swine flu a national emergency

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.

The declaration, signed Friday night and announced Saturday, comes with the disease more prevalent than ever in the country and production delays undercutting the government's initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million doses of the vaccine could be available by mid-October.

Most certainly, "forewarned is forearmed" and it's always better to be over prepared than under prepared, but is this truly a "National Emergency"?

Much of the news on this Swine Flu, excuse me, "H1N1", seems a bit overblown and many of the statistics are unclear. A declaration of a "National Emergency" should be based on hard facts, and the decision to make such a declaration should be made with the utmost seriousness.

Upon review of Declared National Emergencies 1976-2007 (see table, pp.16-18), there seems to have been "National Emergencies" declared for any number of reasons, some very serious in nature, and some somewhat frivolous when viewed from the perspective of history. These declarations have been made by a variety of Presidents, from both parties.

Expansion of Executive Branch power should always be viewed with a healthy dose of scepticism, and in this case, I must say that I am sceptical that this particular situation rises to the level of "National Emergency". My scepticism is fortified by this particular administration's lust to control everything from American business, to our free press.

After all, it was Rahm Emanuel, the current White House Chief of Staff, who said:

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

Granted, he was speaking of the "energy crisis", but philosophy is philosophy, and this administration has followed this same philosophy on a number of issues; using crisis after crisis to expand the reach of government.

Now, we have a declared "National Emergency" as a result of this H1N1 virus, and I have to ask myself, "is this really an emergency, or another instance of the administration seizing an opportunity?"

I suggest you ask yourself the same question.

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