Sunday, September 17, 2006

First they came for our, well, everything

COOPER CITY · The city has given itself the right to seize its residents' personal property for public use in an emergency.
Noooo, that's not the sort of thing that has massive potential to be abused. I mean, it'd only happen in an emergency, right? Residents should be assured though:
"There's always the possibility of abuse of power," Commissioner Elliot Kleiman said, "but it's not going to happen here."
[. . . ]
Kleiman said Cooper City residents should be happy because their city has taken preventative steps to ensure their well-being.
Yeah, best intentions and all that. Forgive me if I'm leery of a government, any government, extending its power and control over its citizens, especially when that extension includes the ability to legally seize property under the subjective condition of "emergency." Oh, and it's not just seizure of property that's now legal:
Under the city law, once the city declares a state of emergency, officials would be able to regulate fuel and alcohol sales, close any place of public assemblage and prohibit public possession or display of firearms. In addition, they would be able "to confiscate merchandise, equipment, vehicles or property needed to alleviate any emergency condition."
I'd be speechless if I was speaking this instead of typing it. So the Cooper City government, after declaring an emergency, a term that can be defined by the Cooper City government, can now do anything from giving away fuel to forbidding its sale, doing the same for alcohol. It can block public access to any place large enough to hold a public assembly, without defining what exactly constitutes a "public assemblage;" is it 3 dudes talking on the sidewalk? 2 or more families meeting in a church? Dogs and cats living together? What?

And what exactly is "public possession or display of firearms" anyway? If a concealed-carry permited, background-checked citizen walks out of his/her front door with a legally-purchased, never-been-used-in-a-crime, holstered handgun discretely secured under his/her jacket, could he/she conceivably be arrested or otherwise detained?

What if the city government declares an emergency and decides that your home is worthy of confiscation; would your home now be considered a public area? If you happen to have a beat-up shotgun or something locked in a gun case, you better hope not; under the set of circumstances possible with this new law, that'd be verboten.

Yeah, I know those are hypothetical, over-the-top situations, and I know that the government cannot reasonably have resources standing by at all times, ready for any emergency situation. C'mon though, this law just seems a little over the top; neighboring cities down there have their own emergency powers laws, but, according to the article anyway, and to some family of mine who live around FL, those cities' laws are not as intrusive or as wide-reaching as Cooper City's.

Here's the most heinous and disgusting part though, in my eyes:
The plan was advertised in local newspapers for several days before it became law. Commissioner Bart Roper said only one resident complained during a public hearing, when the item was discussed and approved by a 4-0 vote.
That wet thud you just heard was my laptop impacting my forehead with sufficient force to draw blood.

Yep, the bill was publicly advertised multiple times, in multiple locations, and, except for 1 guy, the citizens said and did nothing. Instead of taking a look at what their local government was planning and taking steps to prevent such a law, the residents are left to complain after the fact. The citizens apparently didn't want this sort of law on the books, but they did nothing to prevent it. Look people, it's up to you to take a proactive stand on how your government operates, no matter if that government is local, state, federal, Evil Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance, whatever. If they're doing something you don't like, SAY SOMETHING! Threaten their positions during the next election, rally like-minded citizens to your position, but for God's sake, do something! Even if you fight a losing battle, at least you fought.*

The government will try to take everything they can if they can get away with it. It's the nature of power; no matter how little or how large, power always wants more of itself. It is up to us to make sure the government cannot do what we don't want it to do. If we do nothing, they'll come for, well, everything.


*Unless your government really is the Evil Galactic Empire; Palpatine would just have you killed, and that would suck. You probably wouldn't even rate a Vader Force-powered choke hold, you plebeian slime.


  1. Though the idea of a rampant government over-reacting or ginning up an excuse to declare an emergency in order to assume dictatorial control over their citizens is a serious issue, there is another consideration:

    What is the incentive for the individual citizen to be prepared for an emergency if they know that their preparations could be for naught?

    Why purchase an expensive generator, self-defensive firearms and ammo, a supply of emergency food, batteries, flashlights, first aid gear and water in order to sustain your family during a crisis if, upon onset of said crisis, the city is going to come take away the stuff that you put the time and effort into making available for your family and giving it to people who showed no such motivation or foresight? (Holy run-on sentence Batman)

    So, basically, what the city is saying to its citizens is "don't bother preparing for an emergency for we will simply take from you the fruit of your labors". Oh, and the ones who DIDN'T have the foresight and dedication to plan ahead...well...they are just the "less fortunate" and have just as much "right" to your emergency supplies as you do.

    As for only one person showing up when the ordnance was being debated...sounds like the residents of Cooper City have exactly the government that they deserve.

    "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."

  2. Just wait until they decide that a Republican getting elected to the Presidency is an emergency.